‘Utilities 2.0’: The Future May Be Sooner Than We Think

Mar 19, 2014 1:00 PM ET
Source: NASA Earth Observatory

EDF Energy Exchange Blog

Last month, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel called “Utilities 2.0: The Role of Distributed Generation and Demand Response in Evolving Utility Business Models.” The topic may sound esoteric, but to the more than sixty people in attendance, and at least fifty more watching online, the event, which was sponsored by clean energy networking group Agrion, offered insight into how these options will in a not-too-distant future revolutionize the way all of us consume electricity.

The energy industry is abuzz with talk of how distributed generation, which enables consumers to draw power from on-site sources, such as rooftop solar, and demand response, which rewards customers who use less electricity during times of peak demand, are transforming the electric utility industry. A once-in-a-generation paradigm shift is already in motion, and exactly how it will play out is anyone’s guess.

The Agrion panel wasn’t the only crowded event I’ve recently attended where the need for new utility business models was the topic of lively debate. Earlier this month, I joined representatives from utility companies and the New York Public Service Commission as well as other industry stakeholders at a NYU symposium on “The Utility Industry of the Future.” Both of these events came hot on the heels of the Commission’s Order last month requiring Con Edison to support more clean, distributed generation and sophisticated electricity pricing structures based on the time electricity is used.

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