This blog explores changes in the energy industry from an insider’s perspective as it transitions from the old centralized utility model to the new paradigm of distributed generation.
This blog was previously called Inside the Housing Evolution and focused on energy efficient homes. Ultimately, it’s all linked. Soon, every building will have the potential to generate, store, and sell energy. Welcome to the era of the transactive grid – the greatest shift the electricity sector has seen in over 100 years!
Would you want your tax dollars paying for someone else’s clean energy?
There’s a small community of around 1,000 homes just outside of Austin, Texas that is being used to research how we’ll be using energy in the future. Pecan Street, supported by the US Department of Energy, the University of Texas and some major private partners, is studying families living in energy efficient housing with smart appliances and household energy management systems. The community is powered exclusively with clean energy produced from renewable resources and distributed over a smart electricity grid. It’s an ambitious project that looks at optimizing every aspect of energy production, distribution and use. In their words, they’re “helping reinvent America’s electric system.”
Project partners General Motors and OnStar have offered residents a substantial discount on purchasing the Chevy Volt to monitor the impact of electric vehicles on the electric grid. According to OnStar Vice President Nick Pudar, the project “provides a real-life lab for the automaker to observe charging patterns and how consumers and clean-energy technologies interact and support electric-vehicle charging. “
To me, this project is simply amazing. Fossil fuels are non-renewable resources, so whether it happens in our lifetime or later, eventually all of our homes and vehicles will have to be converted to a fully electric system that uses renewable sources for power. This project brings together academia, government, and major corporations putting serious money towards looking for alternate solutions that can fit with how we currently like to live as a society.
Apparently though, I’m in the minority of people who see this as a good thing. I was surprised when I read the comments on this article to see hundreds of people posting on what a waste of taxpayer money this project is. Based on the comments, it seems that the majority of Americans feel that any government funding into green energy or specifically electric vehicles distorts the free market and leads to inferior products that are forced on the public at higher costs.
To me, this article and the reactions to it point a critical barrier to further adoption of clean technologies. People don’t trust the government to invest wisely and certainly don’t want them subsidizing big business. But without government support, the technologies won’t get off the ground because they’re currently too costly to sell on their energy efficiency merits alone. It’s not a simple problem, and it will take real political courage and leadership to create a shared vision for how we will produce and use energy in the future.
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ABOUT PEAK POWER
Peak Power is a Microgrid project development company focused on delivering innovative solutions to offset the most expensive hours of electric demand. We specialize in optimizing the revenue streams from energy storage, advanced building automation, and renewable technologies for customer sited and utility scale projects. Please visit www.peakpowerenergy.com.