How do you know if a microgrid makes sense for you?

Microgrids are the epitome of Local Energy. As the name suggests, microgrids are miniature versions of the big grid. They generate their own power and they have their own loads. And, if the grid goes down, microgrids continue to operate in what the industry calls “island mode”. Even though there are only a few thousand built so… Read More

AC vs DC: How better economics ultimately beat out a bizarre publicity campaign (Part 2 of 3)

This is the second in a three-part series on the origins of the modern power industry. Part 1 can be found at How Edison, Tesla, and other visionaries invented the modern grid. The sparks that started the AC/DC current wars By the late 1880s, Edison was on his way to dominating the rapidly growing power… Read More

California just required solar on all new houses – will the world follow?

California just made a huge commitment to Local Energy. On May 9,  California’s Energy Commission (CEC) unanimously passed a groundbreaking new building standard. Starting in 2020, all new homes in the state must be built with solar panels. Yes, that’s right. In California, residential solar is now required by law. How does the new building standard work?… Read More

Choreographing electrons and the hidden sophistication of the US electric grid

Flip the switch. Your light turns on. Simple, right? Actually, the light switch is straightforward but the system behind it is anything but simple. When you flip that switch, you are instantaneously connecting your bulb to the most sophisticated machine ever built. Carl Sagan once said, “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science… Read More

Three months into Trump’s solar tariffs – are the promised new jobs in sight?

On February 7, 2018, the U.S. tariffs on imported silicon solar technology went into effect. As we approach the three month anniversary, what, if anything, has happened as a result? A quick history lesson on the US solar tariffs Let’s step back for a brief history lesson. In the spring of 2017, the two largest… Read More

How Edison, Tesla, and other visionaries invented the modern grid (Part 1 of 3)

Take a moment to imagine a world without electricity. You will quickly realize how dependent our 21st-century lives are on this invisible and silent form of energy. The modern electric grid was built from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s during one of greatest waves of invention in human history. The century-old power industry is… Read More

Using new business models to unleash competition and innovation in the power industry

Competition is all about price, features, and customer experience. Right? That’s what business schools have been teaching for decades and it’s largely true. But, if you really want to change an industry, you need to change the rules. You need to create new business models. The untold story behind some of the most disruptive companies… Read More

Three ways to reduce the risks of cyberattacks on the electric grid

As the cyberattack on the Ukraine grid showed the world, electric utilities are the new target for cyber terrorism. A survey conducted by the website Utility Drive reflects the industry’s rapidly growing concern. In 2015 and 2016, utilities ranked threats from physical and cyberattacks as their sixth largest challenge. In 2017, these threats jumped to number one.… Read More

Russia has infiltrated the US electric grid – is this our doomsday nightmare?

  “There is no backup system to the grid.” – Gretchen Bakke from her book, The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future On March 15, 2018, the US government made a chilling announcement. Russian hackers have been successfully infiltrating the US electric grid over the last year, maybe longer. While rumors have been… Read More

Montgomery County Maryland didn’t have the budget for their microgrid so they invented a new business model

It was the summer of 2012 and the Mid-Atlantic was being pummeled by one of the worst storms in years. This was the second summer of heavy thunderstorms and squalls to come through Montgomery County, Maryland, in as many years.  The county leaders were scrambling to dispatch police and emergency workers. But with so many… Read More