How can the power companies that now make money selling electricity make money instead by helping Americans conserve energy?
It's a question that pervades the impending transformation to a low-carbon energy economy. Power plants, already massively expensive (the cost is up 27% in just 12 months), will only cost more as carbon-cutting technologies become commonplace (as most inside the industry expect, due to regulations on the drawing board). And the cost of many fuels even coal, the poster-child for cheap energy is going up.
It's a concept that the Democrats running for Congress have included in their energy plans, and it's a topic that came up at the Cambridge Energy Research Associates conference in Texas this week, according to the Dallas Morning News.
"Retail electricity companies see a business opportunity here," the Morning News writes. "Many are planning to help consumers reduce their electricity use, either for a fee, or to attract new customers."
In other words, expect your local utility to look for ways to charge you for making home energy efficiency improvements. That kind of free market initiative could make for great new products and services. However, right now, many services are being offered for free by state and local governments (In New York, for instance, New York Energy $mart offers a range of services and tax breaks to help homeowners reduce energy use.) The savvy homeowner will take advantage of as many services now, before the price of saving energy starts to rise.
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