Microgrids on the March: Utilities Building New Business Models

Pulling a cohesive narrative out of the DistribuTech conference’s thousands of participants and menagerie of electrical doohickeys is like synopsizing James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Amid the cacophony, however, a few trends emerged. The sophistication of software used to manage an increasingly decentralized grid continues to grow, as Jeff St. John observed. Meanwhile, utility representatives expressed caution about the dislocations stemming from that decentralization.

"Our main charge is to make sure our customers have reliable power," said James Boston, manager of market intelligence at San Antonio utility CPS Energy, which recently deployed a demonstration microgrid. "Utilities are generally cautious to make sure these things are tested, are proven, before we put customers’ reliability in any type of jeopardy."