Decentralized energy is the future — and it’s closer than you think (part one)
Crowdsourcing Week
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Perhaps you address this in part two — but the premise of the inevitability of decentralized energy seems a bit rosy for the United States (and other similarly regulated grids/markets). Our energy markets and policy frameworks are, quite literally, bound up by a rather antiquated notion of “natural monopoly” where returns on the massive investments associated with centralized electric power generation and transmission are balanced against a public interest in reliable supply at predictable prices. We have an N=50 problem of regulatory regimes (all underneath a federal umbrella (FERC)) that are statutorily oriented to balancing the interests of utilities (primarily investor-owned) against consumer, commercial and national security interests. That is the crux of the case for (and against) decentralization — without a significant (long overdue) change to the framework of natural monopoly protection of energy generation and transmission interests, we’re pushing a rope uphill. Perhaps we could take a page from the break-up of Ma Bell (remember when you couldn’t actually “own” the telephone in your own house??)…Among other innovations, the Bell Labs propeller heads certainly saw centralized (and shared) computing on the horizon of their natural-monopoly-protected “telecom” frontier. It took the complaints (and lawsuits) of IBM, MCI and others to truly open that frontier — and, boy, did it open.

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