- What will be the effect of greater decentralization of power generation?
Decentralizing power generation will have many effects, some positive and some negative. The positive aspects as I understand will be increased reliability as there will likely be more substations serving fewer people, thus the stations are less likely to reach capacity and shut down or brown out. Additionally, more substations and providers means increased competition in the market, better service, lower prices, and a greater need for innovation in order to compete. One of the negatives would be the potential for a smart grid, I think with more substations and providers, there will be less income generation which means the providers may end up relying on dependable technology and less likely to expand their business, which I understand is counter to one of my previous statements. Kind of a catch-22.
- What new businesses will evolve in this changing landscape?
There will be an increased need for installers, both commercial and residential, an increased need for electrical engineers who are also educated in IT and IS, and I believe there will also be a greater need for government officials to regulate and rezone for the increase number of stations.
- What business can you see yourself creating to serve this market?
A third party company that compiles and analyzes the services provided by each generator would be a tremendous asset to any market. A company that compiles costs, reliability, profitability, innovations in infrastructure, and then publishes it to the community to better assist a consumer in making their decision.
- Considering what I know about renewable energy, what are some of the key things I need to be able to explain to a potential funder of my project?
- What finance-based processes would I use to explain our potential for success?
Key items to discuss with financiers would be the break even point, at what time will the investment have paid off and is that time length acceptable? What will the return on investment look like to the potential funder, is there a specific interest rate and is it compounded continuous, annual, does it begin after the break even point? Will additional funding be needed in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? And will the investor see one lump sum payoff or will annuities be paid out over time? Additionally, the investor will need to see a solid business plan that outlines how the owner/entrepreneur plans on making money, their marketing strategy, and all attempts to perform successfully.
First, the investor will need to know up front purchase price of any products, how many people will be needed to help run the company to determine payroll, what is the cost of overhead, will any facilities need to be rented or specific automobiles or machines, etc. Second, the investor will need to see an outline of what the accounts payables and receivables expect to determine if the investment is wise. Finally, a look at the general ledger or quarterly tax filings to confirm the investment is paying off.
- What types of policies on the part of government could promote energy efficiency?
I think the policy, or policy type, that would have the greatest impact is a carbon tax. So far we have seen numerous companies commit to sustainability, and numerous states have implemented their own cap and trade or RPS, and while there has been some improvement in terms of efficiency I think we would experience a bit more should policy be implemented at a federal level. By instituting a cap and trade or enforcing an RPS, it forces the industry to innovate at a much quicker pace, this innovation breeds competition which ends up reducing costs across the board as implementation and adoption are fast-tracked.
- How would you develop a business that has the potential to move this idea forward?
I don’t know that any one business would have the potential to push an RPS or cap and trade policy. Rather, this is something a coalition would do and various businesses or industries would lobby the government and market to the people why it is so necessary. For example, the energy production industry could become much more efficient by eliminating antiquated technologies and investing in new. However, they won’t have much incentive to do so unless it is profitable or the government sector requires it of them. A coalition could help educate people on why it is important to utilize new technologies, for both short term and long term benefits. In a sense this would be a nonprofit business whose goal is to convince the public these policies are important.
My name is Danielle DeBoer, I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT – however, I have lived briefly in both Youngstown, OH as well as Austin, TX. My current line of work is in Human Resources and Accounting, as exciting as that all sounds I would really like to get out of it and pursue a career in environmental consulting. I think living in the western United States, there is great potential for sustainable energy to become quite popular among corporations and residents, but it’s going to take discussing dollars and figures before people are willing to make the big switch considering so much of this side of the U.S. was founded on cheap coal energy.
I haven’t started my own business but at the moment I do assist my parents in running theirs. They currently own about 10 rental properties within the state and we do all of the property maintenance, rental agreements and tenant screening ourselves. No middleman. Of course, once someone has signed the rental agreement, the business is very low-maintenance so it thankfully doesn’t take too much time out of my day to help them with this venture. On a local level, I think a business that provided smart home integration would be quite successful out here. What I mean by that is educating residents how to incorporate energy efficient upgrades in to their existing infrastructure, tying it all in to a home network where the owner can then monitor the efficiency of their appliances, water/sewer/trash output, and remotely manage all facets of these upgrades. Our local utility company does offer to send an energy auditor out to give residents feedback on what changes can be made, however, I think it would also be neat to tie this in to remote monitoring and managing, similar to how security systems now let residents tap in to the cameras they have installed around their homes.
Because of the topography out here, geothermal, solar, and wind are all viable means of off-grid energy maintenance and having the ability to manage what is operating and when would provide the user a great sense of independence from the grid. And with these technologies becoming more popular over the recent years, the cost for upgrading is reducing at a reasonable rate, which makes the ROI much more appealing.