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How electric utilities could revive their sagging fortunes and decarbonize the country

David Roberts, VOX
These are gloomy times for electric utilities. After more than a century of fairly steady and predictable growth, they have entered stagnant waters. Demand for electricity is sluggish. Distributed energy resources (solar panels, batteries, etc.) are chipping away at their market share. Climate activists are always yelling at them for burning so many fossil fuels. It’s no fun.
Despite the industry’s much-hyped “death spiral” — in which customers abandon utilities for distributed energy, prices rise on remaining customers, more customers leave, etc. — these troubles are probably not fatal. Even under aggressive projections, most electricity will come from utility-scale power plants through the middle of the century. Utilities will still be needed. But they do seem to be heading inexorably toward a much-diminished role, with much-diminished profits.

Still, buck up, utility execs, all is not lost! There is a possible future in which utilities become bigger and more important than ever. What’s more, it is a future in which they take the lead in decarbonizing the country.

They could be heroes.

That is the good news in a recent paper from research consultancy The Brattle Group. It outlines a scenario in which utilities thrive, greenhouse gas emissions decline, and everyone joins hands in song.

The key to everything (coincidentally, my long-time obsession) is electrification.

Read more at: How electric utilities could revive their sagging fortunes and decarbonize the country – Vox