A Death Spiral for Utilities?

I’ve been doing some reading about the problems facing the electric utility industry worldwide — and there does seem to be a growing realization that the model under which electricity providers have operated under for decades is undergoing major changes. In January of this year the Edison Electric Institute, an association that represents for-profit electric companies in the United States, published a report that brought attention to factors that posed major threats to the industry, and made proposals to help mitigate those disruptions.

Here’s an outline of the problem from the report:

Today, a variety of disruptive technologies are emerging that may compete with utility-provided services. Such technologies include solar photovoltaics (PV), battery storage, fuel cells, geothermal energy systems, wind, micro turbines, and electric vehicle (EV) enhanced storage. As the cost curve for these technologies improves, they could directly threaten the centralized utility model. To promote the growth of these technologies in the near-term, policymakers have sought to encourage disruptive competing energy sources
through various subsidy programs, such as tax incentives, renewable portfolio standards, and net metering
where the pricing structure of utility services allows customers to engage in the use of new technologies,
while shifting costs/lost revenues to remaining non-participating customers.

In other words, utilities are under threat because of the development of new technologies that have reduced demand for energy from electric companies, and also government policies that have promoted the adoption of these new technologies.

The disruptions outlined above have led some observers to predict a so-called ‘death spiral’ for utilities which goes something like this:

1. New technologies and programs allow more people to become less reliant on the grid for their energy needs.
2. Loss of revenue from these customers causes utilities to increase charges for customers overall.
3. Increased charges causes more people to install cost-saving systems, and maybe leave the grid altogether.

The Edison Institute report raises this alarm:

While tariff restructuring can be used to mitigate lost revenues, the longer-term threat of fully exiting from the grid (or customers solely using the electric grid for backup purposes) raises the potential for irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects. This suggests that an old-line industry with 30-year cost recovery of investment is vulnerable to cost-recovery threats from disruptive forces.

The report proposes that utilities take immediate action to mitigate against these threats by adding monthly customer service charges to cover fixed costs, implement tariffs on customers who use distributed energy resources (such as solar systems), and revise net-metering policies where customers are able to sell energy back to the grid. This debate is already playing out in various places around the world, such as Arizona, where the public utility is claiming that subsidies and credits to solar customers are creating an unfair playing field putting an unfair burden on non-solar customers.

The report also mentions that at present in the United States there are 200,000 (or 1%) customers using some kind of distributed energy resource.

I have to say that while interesting, the report is sometimes difficult to follow because it is filled with business, legal and financial jargon that I am unfamiliar with — it would be nice if they could write something that the average person could easily understand. The bottom line seems to be that the electricity industry is very concerned about future viability of its business model. They are concerned that shareholder value will increase over time, as well as their ability to raise capital if their business model is see being broken by investors.

All the above is considered in terms of technology that is already available. What happens to this scenario if a technology like LENR comes along (LENR is not mentioned in the report, unsurprisingly)? It’s hard to predict the impact when there is so little known about its capabilities and the products that will be produced, but I would guess from the utilities’ point of view it would be seen as an added reason for alarm when looking at the long-term implications.

Maybe it is time for the utilities to look at changing their business model, and moving from a centralized system to a more distributed one. Could utilities be involved in installing and servicing home or community based energy production systems? Or will it turn out that the electric utility will eventually become an outmoded service whose days are numbered? And during any transition period will power get more expensive for those left on the grid (probably less wealthy people), while more affluent consumers can afford to move off?

It’s hard to say at this point, but it seems that this industry is well aware that things are changing, and that the rate of change is likely to increase.

  • andreiko

    Is het RossiEffect 5e aggregatie-toestand waar energie uit vrijgemaakt kan worden?

    • andreiko

      Is the energy released from the 5th aggregatie_toestand Rossi Efect can be?

      • Barry

        I think it lost something in the translation.

        • Dickyaesta

          To say the least… 🙂 , toestand=situation

  • Donald

    The report is absurd. None of the above mentioned renewable junk energy alternatives will replace the power station any time soon. Clearly the Edison Electric Institute is desperate for a buck.

    • Mop

      I feel it’s not junk at all. If the property is large enough, a business can throw up one or more wind turbines and they would only have to buy from the grid if wind isn’t blowing. That sounds like it would be annoying for the planning of the utility company but a good idea for the business.

    • GreenWin

      I agree with Donald, except the Edison Electric Inst. is the elected representative of the U.S. utilities industry.

      And central fossil power is exiting Germany ’cause PV/wind is replacing them.

    • fortyniner

      If I had to guess I would say that gas ‘fired’ fuel cells are probably the greatest hope for home power generation and heating, although of course technologies such as heat pumps may contribute. For DER, CHP installations using ‘conventional’ gas-fired power generation are probably most economic at present, the reduced efficiency of smaller plants being offset by district heating and the absence of power line losses. Most other ‘green’ technologies such as ‘biomass’ burning, methane-from-waste, biofuels etc. depend on fossil fuel availability for transport and processing, and are basically a dead loss driven by environmental fundamentalism.

      As far as grid power is concerned, it seems very doubtful that wind can make a subtantial contribution, although hideously expensive offshore wind farms may be an exception if costs are offset and underwritten by government. Solar power is useful but it seems unlikely that sufficient photovoltaics could be installed to replace fossil fuels, and without subsidies the economics are still dubious.

      At the moment only tidal power (lagoons, barrages and sea-bed turbines, NOT wave-driven generators) could rescue centralised generation – where this energy source is available (e.g., Scandinavia, UK, Denmark, Holland, France, Spain, Greece, etc.). It is currently the only non-fossil technology other than nuclear with the potential to generate multiple gigawatts per installation, and of course is ‘zero carbon’ – if you don’t count the gigawatt-hours of energy incorporated into the structures involved (i.e., using the same ‘energy audit’ as nuclear power stations).

      Of course cold fusion will hopefully enter he picture at some time in the future, but personally I am no longer perched on the edge of my chair…

  • GreenWin

    Happy Labor Day to our friends in the States. Enjoy the last days of summer BBQs, refreshing ocean/lake swims and sunshine. 🙂

    Admin raises a very good topic. Essentially, can utilities bridge the gap to next generation energy? Will these slow moving, century old behemoths adapt quickly enough to the Distributed Energy Resource (DERs) model – or go the way of the ice house? The clarion call raised by Edison Electric Inst has now been confirmed in the revered journal Nature (reprinted in stodgy old Scientific American:) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=us-electrical-grid-on-failure&page=2

    IMO this is all good news for LENR. Because it maps out the new energy infrastructure that will accommodate LENR. Without district, community and residential microgrids, renewables like PV and wind must battle the old and not-so-smart grid. WITH independent microgrids DERs (PV/wind, fuel cells, Stirling gensets, microturbines, LENR, CHP systems) will flourish.

    While PV/wind is a fully renewable DER, it suffers the intermittentcy problem. Various storage schemes smooth the problem but are expensive to scale. Other DERs require natural gas/propane and align well with utility gas companies. This is one way utilities stay in the game. Partnerships between CHP (Combined Heat & Power) and local gas companies build the bridge to a new infrastructure.

    Electric utilities are still facing the death spiral. Do their Boards endorse a war on DERs or do they join the expanding community of renewables and alternatives?? Do they go the way of the ice house or participate in the energy revolution? An immediate way to protect shareholders is to invest in a portfolio of DERs including LENR technology. David Crane’s NRG Energy company appears to be doing this.

    Utilities are faced with a simple choice; adapt and replace lost ratepayer revenue with DER design, manufacture, install and maintenance revenue… or die.

    Either way, I’m goin’ swimmin.

  • Allan Shura

    In basic terms they are renting power production. Often this is to a protected captive market territory. Off grid alternatives have been
    more expensive but that may be changing and the off grid solutions
    also give independence and provide greater security to disruptions as an added benefit.

  • Hope4dbest

    If the utilities go bankrupt and close, what is going to happen to those of us who don’t have the possibility of generating our own energy?

    • BroKeeper

      Should the e-utilities go bankrupt then government would step in, as done with the auto companies, to reduce them to guardians of the grid and regulate price of electricity from independent inputs until grid dependence came to be insignificant enough to supply free E-Cats via social funding.

      The dismantling of the grid would then begin. High LENR device and replenishment tax would replace electric government revenue.

      And the beat goes on.

      • GreenWin

        The dismantling process is modeled by phone companies taking down land lines.

        • BroKeeper

          What?! And beautify the landscape? How dare you!

          • GreenWin

            And long term return the rivers to natural flow, Bro. Someone gotta doit.

          • Omega Z

            Most dams will remain. Only some will be dismantled & some of them will be rebuilt, but more Eco friendly.

            Most dams exist to prevent or control flooding, Navigation & for irrigation systems. Even with Cheap desalination systems, nothing is cheaper then what nature provides for free.

            Regardless of energy needs 1000’s of dams, lakes, ponds are proposed, some just to allow seepage to replenish depleted water tables.

  • theBuckWheat

    The biggest asset that the electric utilities have is the system that has wires to every house. Almost every alternative to the present top-down central power generation system such as rooftop solar will still have a need to provide power when the local source can’t provide enough and as a way for the homeowner to sell any excess he produces. The electric utility is the natural, and indeed the only way this can take place, even if the electric utility is generating less power itself.

    What goes unnoticed is just how many Kwh it takes to recharge an electric car. It is roughly as much as it takes to run the central A/C. This energy must come from somewhere. I hope it comes from LENR, but until it does, it only can come from coal and natural gas via utility-grade generation facilities.

    • Iggy Dalrymple

      Just use large enough home unit. If grid is defunct, then so be it.

    • theBuckWheat

      In short, government will not allow electric utilities to go bankrupt because they need them for their transmission and distribution systems to move power around even if people have home systems.

    • GreenWin

      http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

      PV is adequate in sunbelts. Other places microgrid connected fuel cells, micro-CHP, Stirling, LENR will obviate not-so-smart grid.

      • Barry

        Hi Greenwin, Seems I’ve heard of a recharge idea where they pull out the battery and replace it with a freshly charged one in less time than a gas fill-up. Don’t know what became of it. I think they were setting up a model system in Israel,

        • Iggy Dalrymple

          The company that was based on that idea, recently went busted. It had planned to launch a nationwide system in Israel.

          Elon Musk also looked at that concept but settled on a rapid charging system.

          • GreenWin

            Iggy’s correct. A Better Place spent $500M on a foolish idea. EV battery form factors are not standardized and may never be.

  • Andrew Macleod

    Even with distributed power generation the “grid” is still needed as safety-net and as a way of sharing any wasted energy production. Maybe their new business model should focus on grid matinence and upgrade.

    • Iggy Dalrymple

      I disagree. With distributed energy, there’s no necessity for a macro-grid. Maybe nice to have but if it goes under, no big deal.

      • Roger Bird

        I agree. I think that the grid is so massively expensive and such a delight to the eyes of scavengers (including legal scavengers), that I doubt that it will survive. And all that it does could be done with perhaps say hand carried power stores or sources, or at worse pick-up carried power stores and sources.

        • Iggy Dalrymple

          My next door neighbor is a boat captain involved in salvaging an undersea cable that connects Florida with Africa. He says it’s a copper cable about 4″ or 5″ in diameter.

          • Roger Bird

            ( ( 4.5 × 2.54 )^ 2 ) × π ×4000 (miles) × 5280 × 12× 2.54 = 264211191762 cubic centimeters. Times 8 grams to the cubic centimeter = 2.113689534×10¹² grams of copper. At the current spot price of 0.007208995 per gram, the value of the cable is $15,237,576,667.06 or $15.2 billion. Even if I am off by a factor of 10 because of something I don’t know about, that is still a lot of bread.

  • georgehants

    Science » Technologies and discoveries
    Physics, a culture of criminality.
    By Gary Novak
    There has not been an iota of physics produced since Newton’s laws which is not grossly in error. You say technology works. Engineering is vastly different from science. Engineers use trial-and-error to test superficial effects. Science produces basic reality, which is abstract. You might say that astronomy and optics are easily verifiable. Easy means superficial evidence which does not prove physics to be correct.
    http://english.pravda.ru/science/tech/03-09-2013/125553-physics_culture_criminality-0/

  • georgehants
  • fortyniner

    Some of the ‘big boys’ are already hedging their bets: “Walmart And Other Big Businesses Prepare For Downed Power Grid With Alternative Energies”

    http://www.offthegridnews.com/2013/09/02/walmart-and-other-big-businesses-prepare-for-downed-power-grid-with-alternative-energies/#

    • GreenWin

      The move to SOFCs like the Bloom Box or CUBE furthers the transition from centralized grid to microgrids. But does this help LENR?? Yes. The LENR reactors in view require heat to reach their activation temp. That heat can be from electrical resistance OR a source of natural gas (Rossi’s gas-CAT.)

      As renewable/alternative microgrids replace century old grid connections, it paves the way for NG-fueled LENR. Microgrids are far more secure than any centralized grid. They generate energy from a variety of sources (fuel cells, micro-turbine, PV/wind, LENR.) And microgrids are gas company friendly. In the US where NG prices have plummeted, this is good business.

      With natural gas as a partner, many more Distributed Energy Resources will be adopted; paving the infrastructure road for gas-fired LENR.

      “Unlike a centralized utility, the microgrid operator is free from the obligation to maintain a large power plant online as backup when cloud cover increases or the wind dies down. Thus during “normal” operations the microgrid facilitates further deployment of renewable energy generating capacity.”

      http://www.ensec.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=442:islands-in-the-stream-the-compressed-natural-gas-grid-as-an-energy-security-enhancer&catid=137:issue-content&Itemid=422

      • Warthog

        “Some” LENR reactors currently require high temperatures to activate. However, there are some hints of fuel structures that do NOT need heat to “kick things off” (Dr. George Miley is one). Feed in the hydrogen/deuterium until a certain pressure is reached, and “away things go”. WRT LENR, we are barely in the single cylinder Diesel engine stage. No external heat source necessary.

    • Roger Bird

      I would hope that some of you would leave comments about LENR. I did.

    • Roger Bird

      The slant of the article is that Big Companies are getting off of the grid for evil reasons, but when families do it, they are doing it for good reasons.

  • CHARLES(SWVA)

    One thing that really bothers me about Rossi’s and Defkalion’s LENR capabilities is the total lack of mention by any (or have I missed one/some) major utility regarding the effect that LENR will have on the generation and/or distribution of power. Not the GEs, Siemens, Appalachian Electric, anybody. Did I miss it all or are they in a silence induced by panic?

    • fortyniner

      I don’t think panic is something these people do within the normal business context. Nor do they tend to keep anyone outside their organisations informed about their projections and business plans.

      It seems inconceivable that the people at the top would not be aware of LENR, so they have a couple of options: (1) dismiss it as not representing an imminent danger to their businesses, or (2) investigate and take whatever steps seem prudent to manage this development (including buying into the technology if an opportunity presents). (1) seems unlikely after the Elforsk report and (possibly) DGT’s demo.

      • AlainCo

        Sure they are not aware of LENR.
        like theyr were not aware of subprime crisis planned in 2004-2005.
        as they were not aware of internet bubble crash.
        as Enron boss, and all the top staff, did not sell their shares while trying to hide the huge loses.

        see appendix D patterns of denials
        http://www.princeton.edu/~rbenabou/papers/Groupthink%20IOM%202012_07_02%20BW.pdf#page=67

        they are blind, point. awareness will spread like the Berlin Wall passed from being a deadly border to a rock concert zone.

      • Roger Bird

        “It seems inconceivable that the people at the top would not be aware of LENR” I have absolutely, positively no problem conceiving it. These are busy people (unlike my fellow goofs on this forum) who encounter a hundred trivialities every day that they have to ignore; LENR would just be another triviality for them. I think that it takes a massive ego to think that what we find to be obviously true should also be obviously true for everyone else.

        • GreenWin

          See my post on Ansaldo Energia. Dr. Aparo who spoke at ICCF-17 is the CEO’s Special Adviser on new technology.

        • fortyniner

          Roger, you have a very strange picture of the way large concerns are run – I assume you have never worked within any corporate business. People at the top of these organisations don’t need to inform themselves on technical issues – they have other people to keep up to speed and advise them of the possible effects of relevant developments.

          Since the Elforsk report, LENR has been far from a triviality, and any technical director or company technical adviser who failed to report on it would be incompetent and likely to experience a short career. As the survival of energy concerns depends on acute awareness of trends and new developments, it is clear that cold fusion will now be closely watched, and summaries will be provided to those who take the decisions. This has nothing to do with anyone’s ego, it is just how things work in the real world.

    • Blanco69

      I can guarantee that some of the big global utilities are aware of lenr. Anders Aaberg of Vattenfall has been on Swedish TV taking about a Rossi presentation in Geneva. Plus, I suspect he has had some form of dialogue with Magnus Holm and the Hydrofusion boys. The thing about utilities is that they see themselves as ecat customers not ecat manufacturers so they’ll sit and wait. This is a mistake in my view. Utilities have always enjoyed a fair degree of stability though either regulation or monopoly. This safe and predictable world in which they exist makes them very risk averse and a bit glacial. However,if the ecat is for real then this level of comfort will disappear. I fear that we won’t see a play from a utility until the deal is staring us all in the face.

  • Bernie Koppenhofer

    Let us assume “the powers that be” want to micromanage the transition from fossil energy production to LENR energy production. One important aspect of that transition would be dealing with the electric utility industry losing customers. You tell the industry that “distributed energy” is the wave of the future and get ready for it. (The Germans are not being as subtle) Create some variant of price controls for the industry to ease the transition for the industry and their customers. You allow a huge fracking industry to be established that will supply the gas heat for LENR energy production. Stop and discourage all large traditional energy infrastructure construction. Control the patent process so that “we” do not give away our LENR advantage to “others”. Try to keep the world in one piece so that we can enjoy “free” energy.

    • GreenWin

      Very well reasoned Bernie. Don’t forget the Private off-record meeting Obama had on May 8th with Edison Electric Inst and major electric utility execs. Two weeks later, the Elforsk-Levi report validated Dr. Rossi’s E-Cat HT.

      The USPTO has failed badly with respect to LENR. Others ARE developing this technology. The Italian energy giant Ansaldo Energia, sent Dr. Andrea Aparo to ICCF-17 to discuss their interest in LENR. Ansaldo is now a very hot property on the international energy market, with Doosan Heavy Industries upping their bid from 1.3-1.5B euros ($1.7-2.0 billion.) A half billion dollars higher than previous bids from Siemens AG, and Samsung.

      Ansaldo is minority owned by private American holding company First Reserve, located in Greenwich CT (home to a certain General.)
      The higher valuation of Ansaldo indicates IMO some kind of LENR awareness in the big player energy industry.

  • Roger Bird

    Here is an interesting video: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21134540/vp/52207962#52207962

    However, I think that he is already hooked on the fast neutron paradigm, and I don’t see him being able to transcend it and join the LENR crowd.

    • GreenWin

      This is a sweet media-happy hot fusion tale. Taylor gave a TED talk. The comments pretty well tell the story:

      https://plus.google.com/+TED/posts/h3tCVuXLF8K

      • Omega Z

        One of the articles I read about Taylor included a story of another young man,(A couple years older & don’t recall his name.) who had similar qualities in the same field.

        Instead of Nurture, Monitor & encouraging him, His Friends, Family & Academics tried to suppress & discourage him. He has since ran afoul of the LAW(Regulations Etc.) & is a person of Interest to be carefully watched & observed.

        Such is the Norm today. One wonders how many are destroyed by the present system.

        Taylor is 1 of the Lucky exceptions Due mostly to his Family & a few academics being supportive.

        Someone stated they didn’t think he would be receptive to LENR. I think properly presented he may be. He is Not Yet indoctrinated. He is still bent on proving mainstream science wrong in some of their approach & already has in some areas.
        However, he’d have to due it quietly or rick a short career.

        • Roger Bird

          Young people tend to be more flexible. But remember that paradigm shifting has very little to do with intelligence.

          As far as the “Such [suppressing super-bright students] is the Norm today” implies that we didn’t do it 50 or 100 or 300 years ago. Trust me, we did. There is nothing new about it. And it is done in other countries.

          I alarmed teachers because I was meditative. Now I am a meditator and an inner-naut and a philospher. People freak out over anything that is different. It is the human condition.

          • Omega Z

            Roger

            Your right. I misspoke. Although I think it is probably a little more so these days, It is not new…

  • Omega Z

    E-cat is prime for Local distribution systems.

    It’s far from ready for home use outside of base load winter Co-heating. Only in certain locals.

    When is Cheap Energy Not Cheap. At 1 cent per Kwh- You produce 5 Kwh’s & only use 1. That 1 just increased to 5 cents.

    E-cat at 1/3 conversion efficiency produces about 2300Kwh per month. Subtract energy to operate the E-cat & Maybe- you’ll produce enough for your monthly Energy use of about 1200Kwh. The Average home use.

    Problem is most of you energy use is in very short periods of time. Most of the time you would be producing excess that goes unused. Gone.
    To alleviate this would require Battery rack storage. This option has an Energy cost/Loss in charging & Discharging them. Your short. Your still on the grid to meet your needs.

    Note that Home generators aren’t very robust, Have short life cycles & are expensive. All costs considered, these systems likely cost more then a local distribution system. If it should go down, it’s up to someone else to fix. If yours goes down, it’s up to you to deal with.

    Until there are major advances in LENR technology & several other areas, Home use is very limited. Non mechanical electric conversion is likely the answer & only then if it’s cheap and Advanced Batteries are necessary in most scenarios to be economical.

    Discussing of conversion loss from AC/DC isn’t necessary as their is a technology Not Used but available that is extremely efficient/Negligible loss.

    • Bernie Koppenhofer

      Omega Z, I agree the traditional power distribution system is far from obsolete, but it is very vulnerable to reduced demand resulting in regulated price increases. These price increases will make LENR very attractive and increase the speed of transition. The economics will be very rough on those left behind. We could be talking about countries being left behind, Germany will not be one of them. There is high stakes poker being played.

      • Omega Z

        Bernie

        To be clear, when I state Local distribution, I’m speaking more of a micro-grid as GreenWin indicates.

        A power center based in city zones. A 1 Megawatt Hot-Cat would probably have much higher efficiencies in conversion & ramping up & down according to demand, therefore offsetting costs of power-lines.

        Individual home systems will depend on other technologies catching up to be of cost/benefit worthy along with improvements in LENR Systems.

    • fortyniner

      Entirely agreed. Until some kind of domestic/local electricity storage facility is available, compact home power sources (including LENR) – even when waste heat is used for domestic heating and hot water – are only half the answer.

      Until then some form of grid, perhaps more local in nature as you suggest, must totter on to provide connection to energy storage facilities (simple water pumped systems for the moment) and ‘top up’ generators, to match excesses to demand, and to provide for those who can’t afford home systems, or have other uses for their money.

      Perhaps a series of semi-independent town/area systems linked to one another by interconnectors to cope with exceptional conditions, might fit the bill.

      • BroKeeper

        All good points.

        To support Omega Z comment we should reconsider short underground distant DC over AC micro grids with something like Siemens HVDC PLUS (VSC Technology) for city connectivity.

        DC transmission is more efficiency, simple, less loss, and less conversion expense with storage advantages? Most modern innovations require inefficient conversions back from AC to DC anyhow. So why not rid expensive middle AC processes?

        http://theenergycollective.com/stevencollier/219976/technology-improves-reconsidering-dc-power

        http://www.energy.siemens.com/hq/en/power-transmission/hvdc/hvdc-plus/?stc=wwecc122921

        • Omega Z

          Bro

          Most people are not aware that a few years ago, A conversation between 2 people lead to a simple fix for AC/DC conversion losses. Don’t recall the exact details, but nearly zero. Negligible.

          In discussion, it was determined that manufacture of your charge adapter you plug into the wall for Cellphones etc, would only cost a penny or 2 more. That’s 10 or 20 cents to the consumer, but a great value to everyone in energy savings.

          A patent was issued for the AC/ to /DC conversion. The reverse has not, But it was said a reverse process was very likely possible. However until 1 vendor picks up on this & uses it in their product & sales promo, it sits unused. 🙁

          As to DC in the home: Considering the Cost & Chaos converting everything over, The Cheap fix is much preferable.
          Convert your house to DC voltage & you immediately need all new Electrical appliances, Bulbs, power tools, vacuum cleaner Everything. In fact what little you have that does take DC will also need new adapter or replaced.

          Note that AC & DC both have plus/minus attributes.
          DC has limited transmission range without using Superconductors. Extremely expensive.
          Thus without superconductors, even cities would require multiple Generating nodes envisioned by Edison. Again you create more costs.

          AC has a loss factor over long distances & thou I don’t know the numbers myself, Discussions indicate as much as 50% over very long distance. Like 100 plus miles from generation to customer.

          Local sourced LENR would eliminate most of this. This in it’s self would reduce Utilities as we presently pay for this loss. It’s all figured in.

          Note as I stated above, Charging batteries has a loss factor in addition, regardless of AC/DC conversion. It’s a separate issue.

          Basically it takes energy to Force energy into the Battery. This is why Batteries get warm/hot when charged & could explode. Thus the need for differently more expensive designed batteries for fast charging.

      • GreenWin

        One of the great benefits of district, community, residential microgrids is they inherently provide backup and Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) services. Example: a group of ten community buildings, 8 of which have a 10kW micro-CHP system (e.g. ENER-G, Yanmar IC units or PV and storage) installed. Each unit services its own building AND is an energy node on the microgrid.

        The microgrid supplies energy to the two buildings e.g. church or community center without dedicated micro-CHP. If a node fails – the microgrid load balances providing immediate uninterrupted service until the node is repaired.

        At present this example is expensive without macrogrid. However as LENR emerges, and fuel cell/DER costs drop, the microgrid model becomes viable.

        http://cleantechnica.com/2013/04/03/over-400-microgrid-projects-underway-en-route-to-40-billion-market/

  • Magic Merchant

    Admin

    I would like to purchase a Magic Scrimshaw with enchanted carvings on the remains of a Sperm Whale from your E-commerce portal.

    Is there such an item?

    / Mr Grey

  • Omega Z

    Problem is most Utilities have been squeezed over time to a narrow profit margin. Pretext for this being tho narrow, mostly guaranteed. A captive customer.

    Note that the Utilities that handle the Grid, Not the power generation, are pretty lean. During disasters, they don’t have the manpower to fix-it in a reasonable time. Thus they have agreements among them to transfer personnel from different Utilities across many States.

    Societal Shifts are changing the dynamics.
    1. Economic decline. Recessions. Demand is still down.
    2. More efficient products. Light bulbs, High efficient HVAC. And cases like myself. A new TV that use 40 watts instead of several 100. Multiply by 10’s a Millions. Future Large Screen OLED systems may use 15 watts including the 2-5 watt speakers.

    People who produce Some of their own energy or the Approximately 300,000 people off grid are technically insignificant percentage wise.
    (Considering 150 Million homes plus the Commercial/Industrial base that uses nearly half of all energy in itself.)

    The Utility problems are from several different sectors. No specific 1 at this time. Most of the Fuss comes from Government shake up mostly telling them to get prepared for the future or get left behind. Behind the scenes I suspect Politicals push a different agenda then what we see.

    Aside from that, I expect a change from Central Power systems, to the Power Companies just redistributed (Micro Grids) being the most likely course given present technology.

    Something many here don’t consider. The present technology wont be individualized until it becomes Plug&Play. Simply because the masses don’t want the hassle. The Grid provides convenience. Only a small percentage will opt out.

    As to Drop in replacement of the current system, the vast majority of these systems have or are reaching End of Life-cycle. In some cases have been temporarily extended out of necessity. Nuclear Facilities are totally none reusable.

    Make no mistake about it. The costs to dismantle these will be payed for by the consumer. Directly or thru Additional Taxes. In some cases, Funds have already been collected & are in invested trusts.(Primarily Nuke & Underfunded.)

    The Grid itself, Poles & wire no longer needed. Another option. Let the People do it. Just mark/designate whats up for grabs. Many would remove & use the poles for fencing at their own expense. Rural co-ops have done this in the past.

    And the Copper wire. LOL. GONE. It is already a problem with scrapers helping themselves.(A National phenomena) Long stretches of wire gone. Even substations. You save a lot & it doesn’t take years. Think months.

    Railroads suffer from this. Intermittently used tracks disappear overnight. About 30 miles from me this took place. About 3 miles worth. The people had trucks, cranes & Waved to the Farmers while doing it. No one knows who did it. This has happened Nationally over the years.