Whole Home Automation: Promising for Consumers and Climate
For insight into the technologies, the transformation of the residential power market, and the consequences for carbon emissions, Radio VR’s David Kerans spoke with Marita Mirzatuny, US Climate and Energy Project Manager at the
Mirzatuny explained that while the utility companies’ monopoly of the residential power sector is already a thing of the past, the future market mechanisms of the sector are still taking shape. Home owners will be acquiring ever more options concerning power generation, use, resale, etc. But the companies that make and install the relevant systems are striving to retain control of the power involved for themselves, not resting content as equipment providers.
The utility companies are not standing still either. Much like cable companies who shouldered the capital expenditures required to bring fiber-optic connectivity to the curbside, utility companies set up networks of power lines and distribution systems, on which basis many of them are justifying the imposition of special charges to residences that install their own solar power systems (the so-called “solar tax”).
Mirzatuny also detailed some of the complexities of the regulatory environment as regards residential power. In contrast to the Federal Communications Commission’s hegemony over regulation of the cable industry, for example, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission does not enjoy comprehensive control. The regulatory picture varies by state, and even within states, so it will take time for the commercial landscape to clarify and for market winners to emerge.
While the commercial players are battling it out in the residential power sector, “whole home automation” will proceed apace. But we probably shouldn’t expect smooth sailing. Utility companies or other big players may orchestrate regulations that can gum up progress in some or another respect, if that is in their interest. As the
“Utilities and large industrial companies have a strong motive to kill these programs, just as horse and buggy makers might have wished to kill the automobile. Utilities make money by selling more electricity, so when customers use energy efficiency programs to lower their electricity bills, the utilities lose revenue.”
Listen to the conversation between Kerans and Mirzatuny here: