Photo by Tom Burke, used under a Creative Commons license.
The most important innovation coming along in electricity may not be a cutting-edge technology or a first-in-the-nation government policy. Rather, it might be a subtle, yet transformative, change in the way utilities meet their resource needs. Instead of prescribing specific technologies to meet future demand – typically, power plants of a particular type – and buying it or building it themselves, utilities are increasingly defining their needs and allowing all technologies and services that can meet those needs to slug it out. It’s an approach that can save money for customers, relieve regulators of unnecessary risk, and open up opportunities for advanced energy companies of all kinds.