Virtually all of the electricity we produce and consume in America originates from a centralized electricity infrastructure. Utility or industrial scale generation facilities like coal, nuclear, hydro and natural gas are remotely located. Expensive and dangerous transmission lines are then needed to move the power into the urban centers where it is most needed. This is a very outdated approach based on 19th century technology.
Distributed energy is energy produced at or near the point it will be used. The most common examples of distributed energy generation are the use of rooftop PV solar modules and micro-wind systems. The benefits of producing electricity locally are countless. By eliminating the need to transport electricity over long distance transmission lines, energy losses attributed to this antiquated and dangerous method are eliminated. Local communities can thrive and residents are allowed to become part of the solution to our nation’s energy needs, not the problem. Consider the following:
Centralized systems required the dedicated use of large masses of land, usually leased from public land management bureaus (BLM). Most of this land is currently open for public use (hiking, camping, exploring). The land is usually undisturbed acreage hosting natural vegetation and wildlife. Centralized systems require large infrastructure and mega-distribution systems. Distributed systems do not use our public lands; they are placed at or near the point of use. They can be placed on rooftops of existing buildings such as homes, warehouses, parking lots, etc. Energy is generated and consumed at its point of use.
Centralized systems are considered vulnerable to attacks or natural disasters that would cause interruption of service to large masses of the population. Distributed systems generate power to specific use areas; any event such as a natural disaster would impact the specific area only and could not cause a system-wide outage.
Centralized systems require long citing, permitting, and funding. And also impact studies before projects can be started. The process typically takes years. Distributed systems can be developed by many homes and businesses installing micro-systems, which are more affordable to the installer and do not require the lengthy impact studies since existing buildings are used. Systems can be developed in weeks.
Control of the resource:
Centralized systems require large production and transmission infrastructure owned by a few large companies. This monopoly of the resources requires government regulation and bureaucratic oversight at the cost of the taxpayers. Distributed systems allow millions of energy resources and products to compete openly and fairly in the marketplace, which dos not require government oversight.