$400 billion dollars. That’s how much money is spent every year on electricity in the U.S. It’s a huge industry. But not for long, because new solar and storage technology can provide many of the same services for a fraction of the price.
The threat isn’t new solar technology, but the ways in this technology is being deployed and paid for. Historically, utilities generate and distribute electricity, and charge customers for their usage. Indeed, about 5 GW of utility solar will be installed in 2015 — more than the commercial and residential sectors combined. But the price of electricity to residential and commercial customers continues to increase. Even though utility scale solar is the cheapest new generating source of electricity, customers are not benefiting. To make matters worse, customers can install their own solar power plants and generate their own electricity for less than the utility charges.
The centralized monopoly utility business model must change because electricity can now be generated, consumed, stored and even distributed on a local level. John Farrell, senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR), focuses on issues surrounding renewable energy, utility power, and energy-generation. Please join me on this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as John shares with us his insights on how utilities are trying to adapt to the new world of distributed generation.