Competition from new players will drive innovation in the changing electric utility market.
The blogosphere is abuzz with plans to create a new electric utility business model, one that reduces energy costs and pollution. The power company of the future, many experts say, will feature new electricity rate structures that reward efficiency, finance and integrate local, on-site power generation (like rooftop solar), and put more smart meters in the system to help us better understand and control our energy use.
Back in January when Google announced it would spend $3.2 billion to purchase Nest, EDF knew this was a company to watch. The results of three new reports, released today, confirm that controllable thermostats like the Nest Learning Thermostat are both customer-friendly and useful for energy system planners. Moreover, the reports signal that smart devices, such as those Nest manufactures, have potential for generating marked savings for utility customers.
Since 2000, U.S. homes have ballooned in size -- on average becoming 30 percent larger. Yet despite this fact, newer homes only consume 2 percent more energy, according to EIA data. While some of this can be attributed to more homes being built in warmer regions like the South, a lot of it is thanks in part to improved energy efficiency. Find out what inventions helped achieve those gains!
For several years now, the media story has been that fracking’s success increased the supply of natural gas dramatically, bringing down prices. Which in turn begs the question: why is my gas and electric bill skyrocketing and will it go down with the Spring thaw?
It is the subject no one wants to bring up: bathroom habits. Not what you might think, we are talking about how you use energy and water in the bathroom! It turns out, what you do in the bathroom makes a huge difference not only on your water and energy consumption, but also on the size of your utility bills.
For years, low-cost solar-plus-battery systems were seen as a distant possibility at best, a fringe technology not likely to be a threat to mainstream electricity delivery any time soon. By far, the limiting factor has been battery costs. But thanks to a confluence of factors playing out across the energy industry, the reality is that affordable battery storage is coming much sooner than most people realize. That approaching day of cheaper battery storage, when combined with solar PV, has the potential to fundamentally alter the electricity landscape.
How might these three organic food industry trends—a shift from niche to mainstream markets, growing consumer demand, and an omnipresent price premium—apply to the electricity sector? I recently wrote about the de-commoditization of the kilowatt-hour, comparing electricity from a utility to the produce aisle of the supermarket. But for me this brought up a new series of questions?
Renewables are making headway in Europe and bringing a low-carbon electricity system to the forefront. Renewables were 69 percent of new capacity added in 2012 in Europe and 49 percent in the United States. Not surprisingly, this threatens utilities unwilling to let go of outmoded business models and fossil-fuel generation. Should old, long- and often still-subsidized oligopolies be bailed out or shielded from competition when they bet against innovation and lose?
Ever thought of building your own energy efficient cabin ... for $11,000? Prior to moving to Colorado this past summer to work at RMI, one staffer did just that and shares his thoughts on passive solar design, thermally massive materials, solar panels and wood cook stoves.
2014 brought the polar vortex to our vocabulary, and with the continuing bitter cold in the Eastern half of the US, most of us are wondering: what’s going to happen to my electric and gas bill?