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By Jesse Berst
If I had to pick one word to describe Rocky Mountain Institute, it would be "smug." To be fair, the decades-old think tank has plenty of reasons to be full of itself. It has been a true pioneer in thinking through the path to a greener future. RMI thinks that it knows better than anyone else how to build cars, how to build buildings, how to run cities, and so on.
And RMI also thinks it knows better than anyone else how to run electric power. Ten years after the launch of the smart grid, RMI has belatedly joined with a group of the usual suspects to create yet-another-acronym for yet-another-consortium. (See the press release announcing RMI's Electricity Innovation Lab on page 2.)
On the one hand, we don't need another splinter group; we need ways for the existing groups to work together more powerfully. On the other hand, I am especially encouraged that RMI is not limiting itself to technical solutions. It is also seeking better regulatory and business models.
Here's hoping the effort succeeds. If RMI is even half as smart as it thinks it is, it has an excellent chance to make a real contribution.
Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.
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