Modernizing the Electricity Grid

You Don’t Need An Energy Company When You Can Buy Power From Your Friends

Co. Exist, March 16, 2015

Utility companies are getting disrupted as people sell each other their energy, without the middleman.

While communication networks have evolved a lot over the last century, the electricity grid has hardly changed at all. The system still uses the same basic technology and has the same general form: big power plants delivering electrons over long transmission and distribution lines. Thomas Edison built America’s first power plant in New York in 1882. And as power industry folk like to say, “he would probably still recognize the grid today.”

Not for much longer. With thousands of people now installing solar panels and selling power back to utilities, the grid is changing from a one-way, top-down network to being two-ways and bottom-up. In the future, the transformation is likely to progress even further, with more of us participating, and some of us even collaborating in “peer-to-peer” relationships. The future grid could be like an “energy Internet” where the traditional hierarchies are overturned. Instead of a hub-and-spoke system of utilities to consumers, power and associated services will be transacted between individuals.

Here are some of the ways that could happen:


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