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Green Heroes

Utilities can transform the world’s energy economy.

Fortnightly Magazine - May 2008

utilities aren’t pushing very hard to change this situation, because it’s giving them taxpayer-subsidized green energy.)

In short, U.S. policies give utilities every reason to view green energy as a political tool at best—and a tree-hugger conspiracy at worst. This is frustrating for utility executives and regulators who view smart (and green) electricity services as a vital solution for the world’s energy challenges.

Utilities need to stop viewing green energy and conservation as a threat to their businesses—and green-energy companies need to stop viewing utilities as villains. Instead, the entire industry needs to ask tough questions about policy structures that are hindering the green-energy transformation. Likewise, policy makers need to accept the political challenge this transformation represents. Transformation is never cheap, and political leadership is necessary to ensure the costs incurred are lower than the costs of complacency.

Creating a greener regulatory compact will require all stakeholders to demonstrate courage and wisdom in the face of major changes. But with policy structures that ensure adequate R&D support and reward utilities for pursuing green business strategies, the U.S. electricity industry can help transform the world’s energy economy into something more cost effective, sustainable and peaceful. The Holy Grail is within reach, if we have the courage to ask the right questions.