Power Monopolies Lose Their Utility

With electricity demand slowing, the model of continued growth that has kept public utilities in operation for the last century needs rethinking. David Roberts examines how utilities will need to change to suit the coming ‘century of electricity’.

The ‘regulatory compact’ by which utilities provides low-cost, reliable power in exchange for the right to be sole electricity providers was devised a century ago to allow for the construction of the United States’ electrical infrastructure.

But increases in energy-efficiency, distributed generation technologies such as solar panels, and the desire to reduce electricity use are a threat to power companies' “comfortable business model” of profitable investment and return. The utilities “do not like that one bit,” says Roberts.

“As a society, we need energy efficiency and demand response. We need distributed renewable energy. We need to cancel out future power plants and transmission lines. All those things are to the good, economically and ecologically,” Roberts argues. “We need a ground-up rethink of how utilities work, how they are structured, and how they can be reformed in a way that enables and accelerates long-overdue innovation in the electricity space.”


Full Story: Utilities for dummies: How they work and why that needs to change


Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
City Plate table setting

New Arrival! City Plates

City downtown cores printed on gorgeous decorative collectible porcelain plates.
Women's t-shirt with map of Los Angeles

City T-Shirts for the ladies!

Women's Supersoft CityFabric© Fashion Fit Tees. Now available in six different cities.