Grandfather’s Utility Threatened by Renewable Islands of Profits

The Washington Post
April 9, 2014

By Will Wade

Tech­nol­o­gy is catch­ing up with Thomas Edison’s elec­tric­i­ty indus­try, eat­ing away at the util­i­ty busi­ness mod­el that hasn’t changed much in a cen­tu­ry.

Clean ener­gy instal­la­tion will almost triple to 290 gigawatts in 2030, dri­ven by a plunge in the cost of wind and solar pow­er, Bloomberg New Ener­gy Finance fore­cast at its con­fer­ence, which fin­sh­es in New York today.

Elec­tric­i­ty from wind and solar is now com­pet­i­tive on price against coal and nat­ur­al gas in places such as Chile and Texas. That’s forc­ing util­i­ties to rethink how they obtain pow­er as the num­ber of places mul­ti­plies where renew­ables holds their own against fos­sil fuels.

It’s not going to be your grandfather’s ener­gy indus­try,” Nan­cy Pfund, a man­ag­ing part­ner at the San Fran­cis­co-based ven­ture cap­i­tal com­pa­ny DBL Part­ners LLC, said at the con­fer­ence. “We’re going to see a par­al­lel evo­lu­tion in ener­gy like we’ve seen in com­put­ing, phones and radio. There real­ly hasn’t been an inno­va­tion cycle in ener­gy in 100 years.”

Read the full arti­cle in The Wash­ing­ton Post.