The times they are a-changin’. There have been a lot of discussions around the country of late about the regulatory changes needed to create a 21st century electricity system. New business models are needed to integrate higher levels of distributed energy resources, take advantage of new technologies, meet environmental goals, and address changing customer needs and expectations. In an industry that has been slow to change historically, there is a lot at stake for utilities, advanced energy companies, and consumers. In order to understand what transformations are needed, it’s first necessary to understand how electric utilities make money today.
It’s not the way most companies do. Electric utilities are monopolies, so they have to be carefully regulated in order to protect the interests of their captive customers.