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The Utility of the Future: Choice, Innovation, Opportunity, and Challenge

Today’s energy customers are increasingly seeking choice in how they manage their energy. They are adopting distributed energy resources (DERs) — rooftop solar, onsite energy storage, electric vehicles, and energy management systems — to achieve cost savings, cleaner energy, conservation, and enhanced reliability.

In response, the industry has begun an era of reinvention to enable these choices and create a clean, reliable energy future.

A modern electricity distribution grid and enhanced utility capabilities will be vital to facilitating these choices and helping customers maximize their investments — while improving the reliability and affordability of the grid for everyone.

Decisions made now on how to embrace this change will have profound implications for how the energy grid adapts to meet consumer needs and reduce carbon emissions for the rest of the 21st century.

Harnessing the Potential of Distributed Energy Resources

To facilitate the transformation to a clean energy future, the local power grid must become a plug-and-play platform that integrates an ever-growing set of DER technologies.

To achieve that, utilities will need to expand their capabilities as Distribution System Operators (DSOs) that plan and manage a modernized plug-and-play grid. By connecting to this platform, DER owners access a grid that supports their needs as customers and markets that increase the value of their investment.

These massive changes to the grid and markets will take time — possibly more than a decade — to accomplish. But, if utilities, regulators, and distributed energy providers come together now with a sense of urgency, the foundation developing now will be established by the turn of the decade.

More on The Emerging Clean Energy Economy (PDF)

Looking Back from the Future

It is June 21, 2030, the longest day of the year, and it is going to be a scorcher. Fifteen years ago, Southern California Edison might have had to turn to "peaker" power plants that run on fossil fuels to keep customers cool on long, hot days.

Today, however, the power grid is running safely, reliably, and efficiently, bolstered by customers' widespread adoption of clean energy technologies.

More on Clean Energy in 2030 (PDF)