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Study Emphasizes Importance of Modernizing Utilities

January 26, 2018

As the adoption of distributed energy resources (DERs) like distributed rooftop solar, energy efficiency, storage, and electric vehicles increases — and as policymakers elevate the importance of carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation — one organization believes utilities and regulators must learn to adapt and evolve.

The Rocky Mountain Institute’s report states that meeting the requirement for affordable, universal energy supply and grid reliability will become even more important as electricity becomes more central to the economy and to other energy sectors, including the electrification of transportation and heating.

Representing two ends of a spectrum, utilities can evolve to be a platform for integrating services from other providers, or they can provide these services themselves through expanded ownership of assets. In either case, third parties will play an essential role in the future system, in some cases as direct partners or contractors with utilities, and in other cases as participants in a competitive marketplace. Both models have merit, and hybrid approaches are available.

However, delaying the evolution of legacy business and regulatory models, which were built for different infrastructure investments and operating structures, will inhibit the growth of DERs and the corresponding economic, environmental, and grid benefits these technologies can provide, RMI’s report, Reimagining the Utility: Evolving the Functions and Business Model of Utilities to Achieve a Low-Carbon Grid, said.

Click here to access of the Reimagining the Utility report.

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