A few quick thoughts on the AEE Pathway 2050 Conference

I attended the AEE Pathway 2050 conference last week that focuses specifically on California energy policy.

A couple of quick thoughts from the discussions and panels:

  • It was an almost unspoken acknowledgement by all participants that the end goal for California should be 100% renewable / zero emissions economy. A panelist from Pattern Energy highlighted this by pointing out that, if we were starting from scratch, 100% renewable is completely feasible. The challenges aren’t technical, they’re a question of market mechanisms and mindsets.
  • There is broad agreement that we have hit the point that piecemeal policies and targets could do more harm than good. A number of government, utility, and private sector speakers all highlighted the need for an overall integrated plan for the 21st Century energy market in California.
  • The role and importance of including time and location variables for pricing, risks, and opportunities on the grid are much more prevalent than in recent years – especially in distribution grid discussions.
  • Questions of data access and customer ownership are going to be extremely tricky as data is the most important commodity for any organization at this point in any industry.  How “Smart” vs “Dumb” energy products and services can be will depend on resolving the tension between privacy & security and data access for (disruptive) innovation and solutions.
  • CPUC Chairman Picker’s recent comments on returning to retail energy are following classic political “trial balloon” phases – we’re still in the ‘stirring the pot’ phase.
  • There is still very little conversation going on in the advanced energy space about heat.

Upcoming post: “The Customer Gets a Vote”

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