Distributed Energy: Utilities’ Existential Challenge?

Distributed Energy: Utilities’ Existential Challenge?

March 28, 2017

Distributed energy technologies like rooftop solar are eating away at electric utilities’ business. Can utilities adapt, and at what cost to consumers?

Rooftop solar attracts homeowners with the promise of electricity savings and environmental benefits. Yet every kilowatt hour of electricity generated at home translates into an equivalent amount of electricity no longer sold by a traditional electric utility. As utilities face the prospect of flat and even declining electricity revenue, concerns over their future economic health, and the reliability of the electric power supply we’ve long taken for granted, have been called increasingly into question. Sonny Popowsky, former Consumer Advocate for Pennsylvania and advisory board member of the Kleinman for Center Energy Policy explores how utilities might adapt to the challenge of distributed energy and energy efficiency, and the costs their survival could bring to ratepayers.

Sonny Popowsky served as the Consumer Advocate of Pennsylvania from 1990 to 2012. He served as the President of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) from 1996 to 1998 and was previously Chairman of the NASUCA Electric Committee. Mr. Popowsky served on the Board of Trustees of the NorthAmerican Electric Reliability Council (NERC) from 1997 to 2001 and the NERC Stakeholders Committee from2001 to 2006. In 2010, Mr. Popowsky was appointed to the Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee and was named Vice Chair of that Committee in 2012. Mr. Popowsky also currently serves on the Advisory Council of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the Board of Directors of the Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia, the Executive Council of the Pennsylvania AARP, and as a pro bono member of the Certification Decision Committee of the Center for Sustainable Shale Development.