CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Look for the day when you will be selling your electricity to the baker down the street, says John Schultz, president of Direct Energy Business, a competitive energy provider.
"The future of energy is going to be about peer-to-peer transactions," Schultz told the MIT Platform Strategy Summit, attended by 250 digital business experts from around the world.
Direct Energy is a unit of the 200-year-old British energy giant Centrica, which serves 18 million residential customers globally.
In America, 5.5 million building owners use $142 billion a year of energy. Schultz said that as much as 30 percent of that energy is wasted through inefficiencies.
"There is a huge opportunity," he said.
Unfortunately, many utilities are not focused on cutting energy use, Schultz said. And some regulators are opposed to investments in smart meters that allow for two-way data flows and energy sector change, he added.
Some utilities don't want to share customer energy use data. "That is a huge inhibitor," Schultz said.
"One thing we advocate for is access to information," he said.
Direct Energy uses sensors to give energy users real time knowledge of their power use. It is helping businesses to gain new insights about their operations, justify new capital expenditures and improve maintenance - as well as save energy, Schultz said.
"You can change the way people engage and use energy," he said.
A new energy portal will enable consumers to increasingly become energy producers. It will involve deploying a "distributed ledger" that will facilitate transactions on the grid system, Schultz said.
"Your meter will contract with other people in your neighborhood," he said.