To kick start our Solar for All program, we brought together two leading experts on solar financing and the grid for the final event in our Power Pairings Breakfast Series: James Tong of Clean Power Finance and John Wellinghoff of Stoel Rives, the immediate past Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Both Tong and Wellinghoff pushed the audience to think more from the perspective of the consumer. Their argument: market principles have helped many technologies take hold, and they could do the same for expanding access to solar and energy storage.
“People talk about the internet of things,” Tong said. “We should be talking about the grid of things. Let’s think of the energy grid as a platform. When you sign up for Direct TV, you don’t buy the satellite dish that goes on your house. You pay for the service that Direct TV provides and the satellite dish happens to be the vehicle to deliver that service.”
Wellinghoff agreed, explaining how more distributed resources could serve as a great resource not only for consumers, but the grid itself.
“We should have the right to generate our own energy for our own purposes. If we use the technology that we have out there we can make that solar dispatchable just like any other energy resource like a wind farm or power plant is dispatchable.”
He added that a model for how this kind of distribution system might work already exists – our transmission system: “We already have independent transmission system operators. What we really should be talking about is an independent distribution grid operator.”
Bringing together such significant voices like James Tong and John Wellinghoff was a great way to launch our Solar for All program. There are solutions out there to ensure solar is an option for all Minnesotans. We just need to get them implemented.