Thanks to Peter Sinclair for making me aware of this.
This is one thing that state and local governments can do about climate change – make it more economical for normal people to install solar and wind. Basically, turn utilities into more of an open market where anybody can be a power plant feeding into a common utility that buys power from anybody feeding it into the grid at a flat rate, and sells it for a slight profit.
Of course, there would have to be some regulation of the system – in order to be registered as a “power plant”, you’d have to have something other than a gas-powered generator that you filled up at the local gas station. Basically, require it to be renewable energy.
At the same time, once this has been set up, there could also be incentive for people to store power, or to have other methods of generating it. Chances are, we will ALWAYS need large, centralized power plants of some kind – wind farms, concentrated solar plants, sewage-based methane generators, and so on. That means that there will be times when those plants will be shut off. There will be times when storms take out parts of the grid.
There will be blackouts and brown-outs, and during those times, the price at which the grid buys power from producers can go up, and that is the opportunity for people who have invested in batteries, or in household methane generators, or plug-in hybrids or EVs, or even in storing compressed air can earn money off their investment by selling power when it’s needed most, and keeping the lights on for everybody else.
Part of signing up as an emergency provider would involve getting help from the state to make sure your system is hooked up in such a way that the grid can start pulling power the instant supply is low.
Not only would this result in a more stable power grid, it would also provide a business opportunity for those with capital, a profitable hobby for those who are curious, and much-needed extra income for those who are short on cash, and can use their ingenuity to generate and store power.
Not to get all political, but this sort of thing fits right in with America’s national motto: “E pluribus unum” Out of many, one. One of our strengths is that there are a lot of us, and there are many different approaches to the same problem. a grid setup like I’m describing would open up the production of energy to everybody, and really, when the stuff is literally falling from the sky, why shouldn’t we all be able to profit from it?