ORIGINAL REPORTING: Outlines of the utility of the future appear
Time-travel, utility-style: Outlines of the utility of the future appear; Utilities can be partners with the market, a platform for the market, or a little of both
Herman K. Trabish, March 5, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Some utilities change faster than others, but all will either jump at new opportunities or be pushed by what happens despite them.
The delivery of electricity from central power plants to customers changed the world and now the world is changing again because customers can make and manage their own electricity with distributed energy resources (DER). Flattened or falling electricity sales, partly due to DER, initially inspired visions of a “death spiral” for the utility businesses that deliver power. But two-thirds of customer electricity needs will likely continue to come from utilities for the foreseeable future, visionary DER provider Elon Musk recently acknowledged. The question utilities face is not when they will die but how they will live, according to the just-released “Reimagining the Utility” from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).
Utilities like Green Mountain Power are moving ahead with DER in a way that benefits both the utility's system and its customers. Others, like Commonwealth Edison, are building platforms on which customers and DER providers can interact directly to the benefit of customers and the system. The crucial insight forward-looking utilities are reaching is that there are ways utilities, DER providers and customers can benefit from new business models. The driver of change is competition from third party DER providers in the unregulated marketplace, RMI Electricity Practice Manager Rachel Gold told Utility Dive. Such providers may partner with utilities that need their expertise with a product or service like cloud computing or electric vehicle chargers. Or they may take advantage of enabling economic conditions or enabling policies to compete directly with utilities, as they have with rooftop solar and home battery storage, Gold added… click here for more
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