Special Counsel and Director of Strategic Projects,
The electricity industry is changing rapidly, and in fundamental ways. The cost of renewable generation, both central station and distributed, has declined significantly and this trend is expected to continue. Plug-in Electric Vehicles are now in mass production and gaining consumer acceptance. Advanced meter technology, Home Area Networks, and new after-meter technologies can enable customers to program their homes to automatically respond to electricity price signals, reducing use when prices are high. And policymakers are targeting a Net Zero Energy construction future.
One can envision a future in which customers have an array of low emission energy alternatives, ranging from green utility service to third party Energy Service Provider supplied renewable energy, distributed solar, or community solar. At the distribution edge, one can envision a future in which customers increasingly become part of the energy ecosystem in ways that enable them to reduce emissions, provide services, and minimize energy costs through investments in distributed solar generation, plug-in electric vehicles, and after meter service technologies.
These developments create tremendous future potential, but only if a market structure is created that has been designed to support these changes in the long-term. With a primary focus on issues presented by distributed solar generation, the RMI E-Lab paper, “New Business Models for the Distribution Edge: The Transition from Value Chain to Value Constellation,” takes a visionary look at the potential future promise of new technologies in the energy industry, how these technologies have changed and can further change the nature of services provided by and to utilities, and explores how unbundled price signals for these services could make this vision a reality. The paper incorporates a wide range of perspectives, identifies the issues that must be addressed, and presents several potential alternative blueprints for the future.
Tom Brill is currently the Special Counsel and Director of Strategic Projects at SDG&E. Tom has occupied a number of strategic, policy, and legal positions at SDG&E, Sempra Energy and the Southern California Gas Company over the past 25 years.