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Macro versus Micro

One of the unsettled areas regarding microgrids is the role of the larger grid utilities, the legacy providers. It's generally assumed that microgrids will be deployed by non-utility developers, probably working for the real estate developer, building owners, or the neighborhood. These microgrid entrepreneurs and developers may offer improved power quality and reliability and tailor their services to specific customers.

Some utilities have opposed microgrids due tosafety concerns; others support microgrids as long as the larger utility owns, operates, and bills customers, an approach that doesn't necessarily resonant with microgrid providers and building owners. Some utilities, such as the Sacramento Municipal Utility District have embraced the concept; SMUD is deploying microgrid architecture in their own corporate headquarters.

The potential utility grid versus microgrid conflict could resemlbe changes in the telecommunications industry in the 1980's and 1990's. That is when the telecom utilities were reorganized and decentralized, followed by radically changes due to technological advancements. The result being that their primairy business and largest revenue producer—telephone landlines for residences—evaporated with the onset of cellular and smartphones.

There is a significant trend to decentralize some energy generation. You see it in individual building uses of renewables and massive efforts to move towards net zero buildings. The deployments of microgrids are additional evidence of that accelerating trend.

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