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Sure the utility business model is changing, but not so fast

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, utility business case, distributed generation, electric utilities
The changing utility business model has been the source of considerable debate and handwringing. Yes, there are plenty of challenges confronting utilities now, but is wholesale change really coming soon? Jared Anderson of Breaking Energy recently interviewed an expert on the topic, and he had some very interesting things to say.

Lessons for utilities: How Japan massively screwed up renewables

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, renewable energy, renewables, Japan, Germany
Japan made a series of bad choices in its efforts to adopt renewables, despite having plentiful solar, wind and geothermal resources. A recent blog post from the Rocky Mountain Institute draws what may be some surprising conclusions about what went wrong in Japan coupled with a comparison to Germany’s approach. Click for details.

Quinone-based batteries could reduce need for metals, but project costs are high

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, energy storage, flow batteries, Lux Research
Battery costs must drop if the stationary energy storage market is to grow as hoped over the next few years. New technologies look like promising ways to get around the need for metals like vanadium, but two Lux Research analysts report that project costs remain a concern.

The next big smart grid race? It starts at the end of the driveway (the distribution transformer)

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, distribution transformers, smart meters, grid optimization, electric utilities
The smart grid initiative has so far mostly been taken up with smart meters, and AMI has been regarded as the tool to enable the beginnings of a smart grid. But what’s next? Guest author Brett Sargent points to the distribution transformer and explains why it’s the next big thing.

What utilities forget when they analyze storage (Hint: It has to do with benefits)

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, energy storage, utility business case, strategy, electric utilities
Reducing the cost of energy storage technologies is important. It’s good business. But guest author Rogers Weed points out that it is just as valuable to increase the benefits storage systems provide. As he points out, business cases are referred to as cost-benefit analyses for a reason.

Four ways utilities can fight back against Google

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, smart grid strategy, utility business model, Google, electric utilities
There has been plenty of compelling evidence of Google’s intent to take over the electric grid. So Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck’s four recommendations on how utilities can transform themselves and successfully meet that challenge are very timely.

How to keep customers cool when it’s hot outside (and an idea you may have forgotten)

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid tecnology, transmission, demand response, electric utilities
In areas where summer weather turns hot and often stays that way for days, the electric grid can take a beating. What options do utilities have when their customers come home and turn on all those air conditioners? Guest author Dave Bryant has some ideas and he’s not talking about new generation or more transmission lines.

Why should Black Americans subsidize "largely white, male" net metering users, asks ASU professor

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, net metering, rooftop solar, distributed generation, net metering fairness, low-income customers
While net metering does help popularize green technologies, it does so “on the backs of our nation’s poor,” says Arizona State University professor Matthew C. Whitaker. While the fairness of net metering has been questioned before, he adds a somewhat different dimension to the rooftop solar discussion.

Want resiliency? Here's how to get it. (New Jersey has already started)

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, distributed generation, renewable energy, grid resiliency, electric utilities
How to cope with a future of distributed generation has been a major worry for electric utilities. But guest author Michael Panfil explains there could be big benefits in terms of improved grid resiliency. If utilities want to take advantage of the opportunities a distributed future presents, they need to step up and get in the game. Or someone else will.

Has the UK already invented the utility of the future?

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, policy and regulation, utility business model, UK utility regulation
After a detailed examination, UK gas and electric utility regulators found that the current regulatory model needed to change if utilities were to successfully deliver on the promise of a sustainable energy sector. Guest author Paul Alvarez describes the new UK model and what it is intended to accomplish.

Storage gets a lift from California’s $415 million for behind-the-meter generation

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, energy storage, distributed generation, renewable energy, California energy policy, electric utilities
California legislators have approved $415 million in funding for behind-the-meter power generation from wind and fuel cells to be paired with energy storage. Dean Frankel of Lux Research explains how the program will work and lays out the details. For more, read the companion story on DOE’s funding initiative.

7 ways to solve your low-income utility customer problem

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, consumer engagement, low-income consumers, electric utilities
Low-income customers typically spend a high percentage of their income on energy, and utilities have been wrestling with how to come up with programs and protections to help them for years. Fortunately, a new report from the Distributed Energy Financial Group says there are ways to solve the problem, and smart grids can help.

The 3 steps to snagging a multi-billion-dollar "data dividend"

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, data, Big Data, smart grid opportunities, electric utilities
There is a multi-billion-dollar opportunity electric utilities haven’t caught on to yet: the business value of data. Guest author Gary Wachowicz explains the “data dividend,” what it is, and how utilities can quickly get on board and be competitive.

Utility death spiral: Is decoupling a dumb idea?

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, utility business model, electric rates, rate decoupling
The traditional utility business model that ties revenues to the amount of electricity sold isn’t working now that energy efficiency and conservation are the goalposts for our energy future. Guest author Paul Alvarez says utilities, regulators and others should consider decoupled ratemaking as a possible solution. He explains why inside.

The hard questions to ask BEFORE choosing your smart grid communications system

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, smart grid communications, communications networks, electric utilities
Shopping wisely for the right communications system is a critical step in any smart grid or smart meter project. Contributing author Paul Alvarez offers recommendations on the important questions utility executives should be asking before they buy.

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