Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Paragraph to Ponder

From Battery Powered by Steve LeVine in the current issue of Foreign Affairs:

"Then there are the electric utilities.  Last year, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu warned publicly that utilities' ownership of power lines and fossil fuel generation plants was not going to continue to guarantee these companies a profitable business.  Such plants could soon be replaced, he said, by distributed generation: smaller, local sources of electricity, often at the home or building level, that rely on solar or wind power.  Chu predicted that within a decade, the American homeowner would be able to pay $10,000 to $12,000 for a battery-backed solar power system and be off the grid 80 percent of the time.  Such distributed-generation systems could save customers up to a quarter of the charges they would ordinarily face during peak hours.  Within five years, such systems could become far more widespread and pose a live and growing threat to electric utilities.  As a matter of survival, Chu warned, those utilities would have to conceive of a new business model that included installing grid-scale batteries.  Otherwise, they risked becoming relics, in the same way that "the Post Office got FedExed."

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