The CEO of NRG Energy says rooftop solar, microgrids, and cheap natural gas poses “a mortal threat to the existing utility system.” Utilities unable or unwilling to change are doomed. Distributed energy will be adopted so widely that upgrades to grid may not be needed. Rooftop solar reduces income for utilities and threatens their centralized we-are-in-control business model. NRG Energy gets it and will no doubt survive. By contrast utilities like PG&E that whine about how dreadfully unfair this threat to their monopoly is and probably won’t.
Businessweek has a long, detailed article about the inevitable and unstoppable transformation of of power grid from centralized to decentralized. I recommend it.
“Renewable energy is so unlike fossil fuel energy,” says John Farrell, a senior researcher with the Minneapolis-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a group pushing distributed generation. “You don’t need large amounts of capital to build it, you don’t need to produce it all in one place and use high-voltage transmission lines to transport it somewhere else. The idea that we would continue to have a centralized form of ownership and control of that system is really inconsistent with what the technology enables.”