Greater decentralization of power generation can, in my opinion, only strengthen the electricity market. Deregulation brought about greater competition amount generators, greater variability among the types of electricity generated, and ultimately a better economic choice for consumers (1).

Not that deregulation is easy. There is still much oversight needed to ensure that the electricity system is not compromised. Transmission and distribution must be maintained; an adequate supply MUST be remain intact; and both generators and consumers must be economically motivated (1,2). There are some systems that may allow utilities and generators to gouge their customers; state regulators must keep a mindful eye on consumer prices, while still allowing a reasonable profit margin for the utilities. With a diversely deregulated generation market, there must be a lower threshold maintained, as well as enough capacity to manage demand spikes. Logistical structures must be put in place to ensure that the system as a whole functions smoothly.

But the benefits can well be worth it. The introduction of more generators make the generation market a competitive one. This will ultimately make generation systems more efficient and drive down prices. It will also allow for more types of generators to enter the market: specifically, environmentally friendly ones. This will allow for a great deal of improvement in battling climate change as well as all the associated pollution risks with traditional power generation. The pressure to increase efficiency will drive the market to create new forms of technology, techs that can be disseminated through the industry. As new technologies develop and efficiency increases, consumers will benefit from reduced rates.

I personally think that there is a great potential for microgrid development as well. There have been several examples of microgrid technology “improving grid resiliency, reduc(ing) emissions, and increasing effiency” for local markets. These microgrids – localized islands of power generation, can provide backup power to cities (3), site redevelopment (4), and commercial complexes (5).

The businesses that can develop in this new emerging market are widespread. They can range from many types of small scale generators, new equipment installers, to consulting groups working with companies to ensure compliance.



5)     “Alstom receives $1.2M DOE funding to advance Philadelphia microgrid project”

Brian Hillard

Regardless of the successes that renewable energy has had in the past decade, there is little doubt that it is still an industry (or subset of an industry) that needs assistance to be viable. Much of the strides have come via government grants, loans, and subsidies. This continues: the wind energy sector has seen a significant drop in installations, due to the federal government’s expiration of the wind energy tax credits. So as the renewable energy industry continues, the biggest question is: will it remain financially viable?

There are still many government incentives available. One key factor is location. Many states provide incentives for renewables, some of them significant. In addition, a reduction in capital costs, especially solar, has led to cheaper installation costs and competitive market rates.

What the funder wants to see is, then, is competitive renewable technology that will quickly recoup the investor their investment and provide a decent return in the following years. If government incentives are a part of the equation, they must be reliable: an investment cannot count on tax breaks or grants that might phase out or expire the next year. In addition, many Pennsylvania solar installations were partially financed by SRECs, or Solar Renewable Energy Credits. These credits were sold by the owner of a solar installation to companies that needed to meet state standards for renewable energy, and provided a big incentive for solar power installers. Any type of government incentive should be guaranteed for the investor to feel confident they will get their investment back.

On top of the financials, an investor will want to have trust in the company itself. A company with a solid, reliable history (10-15+ years), and proven track record and sound accounting will give that much more strength to their request for funding.

There are several finance-based figures that will assist both the company and the investor to know what kind of footing the company is on and whether a large scale investment is viable. Cash on hand, total debt, cost of debt, and percentage of debt all can give an initial look into the state of the company. The lower the debt rates, and the more the cash on hand, the better footing a company has and the investor is more assured the company practices sound financial habits and good chance of remaining in business. Other figures, such as WACC (Weighted Average Capital Cost) and APV (Average Present Value), will give further insight into the company financial standing and how it will be able to finance its own projects. Return on Investment will also be an important figure, so the investor can ascertain just how quickly their money is recovered and how much the company will benefit in the years to come.

Cap and Trade..

  • What types of policies on the part of government could promote energy efficiency?
  • How would you develop a business that has the potential to move this idea forward?


I believe the number one goal of energy efficiency is the conservation of energy, with an end goal of reducing carbon emissions. Carbon emissions should be the number one priority given the amount of data supporting climate change that is available now. The biggest impact government policies could make is to seek to control of carbon emissions, and the most promising method to accomplish this has been cap and trade. The U.S. government can do much to further promote an economic system for companies to barter carbon credits.

As for business opportunities, there are many opportunities available. As businesses move to comply with cap and trade regulations, they will need consultation to be able to ensure compliance. There are also new opportunities for businesses that reduce carbon to get into the cap and trade market, that would need introduction to the regulations and how to promote themselves.

Opportunities on the horizon…

I think there are two facets to this issue: generation capacity and consistency in generation. Nuclear power plants have the capacity to generate huge amounts of electricity, on average almost 12 billion kWh ( That is a huge amount of electricity, especially given the amount of land it covers. Nuclear power is also very consistent in its generation, able to provide electricity for 24 hours a day.

I believe that renewable energy sources will play a huge part in the next century, and each type will have their own niche depending on many factors. Location, availability of resources, local economy, local energy needs will all come into play, and can determine just what types of energy generation will be needed. Every corner of the globe could benefit from one, if not more, types of renewables, and the entrepreneur who is able to take advantage of those opportunities will have a clear advantage.


Hello all, my name is Brian, and I’m a resident of Bethlehem PA. I currently work full time doing warehouse work, spend time with the fam, and try to sneak in time for schoolwork. I am currently majoring in Energy & Sustainability Policy at Penn State’s World Campus, and I hope once I complete my program to find employment in the exciting and dynamic energy field.

One thing I’ve done to jump start my career is develop my LinkedIn profile. It’s still in development…. I have to tweak my resume to fit the career goals… but I figured it’s not too early to start. Brandi Robinson, my ESP advisor, actually started a discussion thread for those seeking some insight into our future beyond the degree. I’d love to see some other ESP majors in there; the more connections we can make within our program and field, the better 🙂

I hope to make many connections both through these classes and through our major. I look forward to many insightful and stimulating conversations!