Monday, June 10, 2013

An Industry Starts to Pivot: Electric Utilities' Shifting Business Models in the Rise of Solar

Amory Lovins and Karl Rabago saw this coming a long time ago.

Now the Wall Street Journal (not Grist, not Mother Jones, not Rolling Stone) references the EEI distributed solar dispatch from earlier this year and runs with it. Not just early/first mover NRG, but the old guard is chiming in too: AEP, Duke, Southern Co, Nextera, Dominion, PG&E ... you get the

First up is Nick Akins, American Electric Power CEO:
On its face you would look at it and say distributed generation is a threat. But on the other hand we see it as an opportunity because our business is changing. There's no getting around it.
Other big utility CEOs join the chorus and soon the message is unmistakable.

Then from the Oxford-American we get a feature-length article laying out the whole new solar landscape including this comment on security:
Former CIA director James Woolsey is a big fan of small-scale distributed solar because he believes rooftop solar, linked by micro-grids, is a way to avoid a potentially catastrophic attack on our still very centralized electrical grid.
To many this still feels unreal. But to an ever increasing group of companies and customers who are experiencing the shift to distributed solar generation first-hand, it's fast becoming the new normal.

I generally concur with Woolsey's optimism, but will be exploring the potential security ramifications in more detail with industry colleagues soon and will report initial findings here. In the meantime, please pass the Bain de Soleil.


URLs you can use:

Utilities Weigh a Turn to the Sun, by Ryan Tracy

The Revolution Will Be Solarized by Chris Warren

Photo credit: Cobalt 123 on

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