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The utilities are responsible for maintaining expensive grid infrastructure whether or not a home has solar or not. In other words, if you have a home solar system, a utility company is likely losing money on the energy you purchase on cloudy days and on evenings because the amount you spend does not cover the long-term costs of the infrastructure that delivers your energy.
We are clearly in a transitional point in home energy use. There are many emerging sources of energy that can keep us off the utility power grid. However, we all want a reliable supply of power when these energy sources are not available. Thus, we need utilities to provide us a steady supply of power when these emerging technologies are unavailable.
Emerging home energy production technologies are not going away and in fact they are getting better all the time. Tesla, for example, is making a home battery that is much more efficient than other batteries that will allow for greater efficiency in solar energy production and storage. It can keep a home largely off the utility grid. Yet what about the times when a home with such a battery needs energy?
The rapid growth in these home energy systems will impact utilities in big ways. The utilities and energy companies are starting to look like last century's organizations and technologies. According to The Washington Post, their efforts to limit the growth of home energy systems looks bad in the eyes of both conservative and liberal Americans. Overall, I think Americans viscerally understand that it is time to get off of dirty energy--especially imported energy. Yet at the same time, we need utilities to maintain energy grids to provide safe and reliable energy for times when home energy production is not enough and for those who cannot afford the investment in home energy production. Stopping the growth of home energy technologies is not good policy. It might be time for utilities to rethink their pricing and business model.