|2050 Power Generation Scenarios|
The utilities don't want it to happen.
They make their money when they build big, centralized power plants powered by coal, natural gas, or uranium. They take a mark up on the cost of the plant as profit. That's what most state regulations mandate: states allow utilities to mark up the cost of the plant by a fixed percentage to insure that utilities do not gouge customers. But the rule that protects customers also hurts them: utilities are guaranteed that fixed percentage on the cost of the plant as profit. How many other businesses can guarantee shareholders a profit? And the more expensive the plant, the bigger the profit.
But the state giveth, and the state can taketh away.
Distributed renewables are a lot smarter way to provide power. That means small, local, combined heat and power generators fueled by natural gas set up alongside rooftop photovoltaics, small windmills scattered about, and biomass gas generation facilities that turn food and animal (including human?) waste into natural gas and compost. Such infrastructure requires lots of components that we could manufacture locally and employ local people to install and maintain. Distributed renewables utilize existing technology and cost less to install and maintain, and once installed require no fuel source (except for biomass, which consumes waste).
Meeting demand is no problem. Distributed renewables combine different power sources that generate best at different times, use gas generators for peak loads,implement energy storage via pumped water (been around for over a hundred years), pressurized underground air, or batteries. Distributed renewables meet demand even more easily when combined with improved consumption efficiency that easily cuts household and industrial electricity use by 50%, and in many cases up to 80 % . Improving efficiency more than pays for itself and employes lots of people. (see negawatts at RMI.org)
Distributed renewables are more reliable, too. When you have lots of little power sources, if one fails, the impact is small. When a large centralized plant is shut down, the impact is large and for longer duration -- nuclear power plants are often shut down for months or years when faults are discovered.
But utilities hate this idea. If we distribute power generation, utilities lose their cut. They lose control of a monopoly with a guaranteed profit. Hence, they prefer to rip us off and poison us.