The ‘Natural Monopoly’

Unless you have some time to kill, its probably best to refrain from asking a conspiracy theorist about Nikola Tesla.  (Tesla was the eccentric genius who designed among other things the first electric motor and alternating current (AC) transmission.  He was an early advocate of distributed generation, like wind,  hydro, solar. He died alone and broke in a hotel room in 1943).

For more than a hundred years, our electric grid has enjoyed the status of a ‘Natural Monopoly’— centralized electricity-generation and transmission infrastructure, regulated by the State in order to ‘protect’ energy consumers with standardized tariffs.

Fact is, our existing grid is a straight-up stupid– it is neither nimble nor responsive.  Rather, it is a blind system of transmission lines and converters, funneling electricity one-way from big centralized power plants to our factories, buildings, streetlights, shops and homes.

The inefficiencies are ridiculous. Some reports suggest that 65 percent of all energy consumed to generate electricity each year in the US is lost.  Brief periods of peak demand are met by firing up gas- and coal-fired generation held in reserve for this exclusive purpose.

A smarter grid is coming.  A web of clever sensing technologies, allowing users to curb their draw when power is at a premium. Properly designed, a smart grid will be more reliable, more secure, more efficient,  less costly to operate, and far less harmful to the environment.

For the residential and commercial consumer (ie. you an me), an intelligent grid will translate into cost-saving opportunities, including variable pricing (including time-of-use pricing, intermittent pricing) and arbitrage possibilities (ie. energy storage and generation).

At Genability, we are making it happen. We are empowering energy consumers to make better informed energy choices.  We want to give you power over your energy choices.  Please check out our new website at

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One Comment

  1. Posted February 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Good article and a nice summation of the problem. My only problem with the analysis is given that much of the population joined the chorus of deregulatory mythology, given vested interest is inclined toward perpetuation of the current system and given a lack of a popular cheerleader for your arguments, I’m not seeing much in the way of change.

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