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California Utilities Model Change for U.S. Electric Sector

Expanding renewables, storage and climate change initiatives redefine utility business models.

The rapid transformation of America’s grid will be at the heart of the nation’s fast oncoming economic transformation, according to J. Andrew Murphy, Edison International senior vice president of strategic planning.

The changes will turn upside-down a century old system of centralized power generation and its distribution, creating “a modernized electricity grid enabling the transformation of our economy,” Murphy said.

Murphy and a diverse group of energy, government and utility thought leaders will be exploring the overarching trends changing the electric sector at the April 5 Renewables Rush executive conference organized by the Energy Times and sponsored by the Edison Electric Institute.

J. Andrew Murphy, left, at the Renewables Rush executive energy conference.

J. Andrew Murphy, left, at the Renewables Rush executive energy conference.

Pioneering work now being done by California utilities will point the way to utilities around the nation, according to Steve Malnight, Pacific Gas & Electric senior vice president of regulatory affairs.

“California’s commitment to addressing climate change through a clean energy future is shared by policymakers, utilities, and customers,” Malnight said. “And it is only getting stronger. If we demonstrate that the transition can be made while continuing to deliver on our communities’ need for safe, reliable, and affordable energy, than the rest of the nation will have a roadmap to follow," he said.

Dan Skopec, San Diego Gas & Electric vice president of regulatory affairs, agreed that California is in the vanguard.

 “The clean energy agenda here in California is clear and unwavering, as is our commitment to being at the forefront of delivering on these ambitious goals,” Skopec said.

PG&E is host utility sponsor and SDG&E is utility sponsor of Renewables Rush.

Murphy of Edison International said that the changes coming to the electric sector are irreversible, regardless of changes in energy policy on the national level.

"Regardless of current federal energy policies, California’s aggressive greenhouse gas target -- 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – will require substantial new emissions reduction efforts across all sectors of the economy that today rely on fossil fuels, not just power generation but transportation and other area as well,” Murphy said.

“These efforts will be aided by new technologies such as electric cars, renewables, battery storage and other clean energy choices that customers are demanding, at the center of which will be a modernized electricity grid enabling the transformation of our economy," he said.



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