Contribution by Michael Bishop , originally published in the Cooperation Commons mailing list:
It’s possible that in the near future, the California Energy Commision and/or the California Public Utilities Commission will require the utility companies to actually pay residents that put more electricity into the grid than they took out of it. Once this happens,
distributed generators will have much more leverage for developing P2P networks in which surplus electricity is bought and sold with minimal utility involvement.
Â Â The electric grid has huge potential as an ‘open source’ network.
Advances in net metering (check out the yet-to-be-implemented Western Renewable Generation System) are allowing folks to know exactly how much electricty they’re producing and how much they’re consuming at any given time. And it would be great
for people to know that they can purchase renewable energy from a pal down the street. Open-source applications would be very appropriate for facilitating the open-source electricity network.
Â Â Â The California commissions have recognized some of the major problems with the current set up. Last fall, they put over $3 billion into renewable energy funding for the next decade and made it clear that radical changes would need to be made to California electricity systems in order to accomodate their ambitious goals (20% of California energy renewable by 2010; 33% by 2020). I think that further action on their part is critical for P2P networks to become feasible. Let’s hope they’ve learned from the failed deregulation attempt in 2001.
I recommend that you read some of their latest reports. They definitely touch on issues relevant to this discussion.