Energy-as-a-Service: The New Paradigm Shift

“Paradigm Shift” is a hyperbolic term that’s been kicking around the electric industry since the early 1990s. Is the chatter about the current “Energy Revolution Paradigm” being over-hyped? If it’s real, what’s changed that made it possible?

Noted energy journalist Ken Silverstein directed these and other questions at a panel of energy experts gathered at University of California, Irvine for the launch of Edison International’s newest business venture, Edison Energy. The company is focused on a new category of energy service offerings called “Energy-as-a-Service” for large energy users whose organizations include facilities in multiple locations.

UCI Professor of Engineering Scott Samuelsen cited as an example of a paradigm shift the introduction of electric drivetrains in passenger vehicles in the 1990’s, which paved the way for today’s hybrid and all-electric vehicles — and caused a real shift in consumer buying habits. In addition, policy changes and technological improvements helped drive the growth of cleaner energy from renewable sources like wind and solar. In retrospect, it took a lot longer than policy makers anticipated for those technologies to become price-competitive with traditional fuels such as coal and natural gas. Now that the price per kilowatt of installed solar PV makes it a realistic alternative in many parts of the nation, and commercial equipment manufacturers are adding smart technologies to enable real-time energy management of their products, it just makes sense to use some or all of those technologies to lower carbon emissions and benefit a company’s bottom line.

“We’re at a tipping point” remarked Allan Schurr, president of Edison Energy. “The integration of these technologies in different domains is starting to come together, and I think we are at this inflection point where the level of those technologies to solve real-world problems, at scale in a reliable way, is right now.”

A real paradigm shift is happening in the minds of large energy users who see tremendous value in controlling their energy expenditures with proactive energy management across their enterprise. That’s no hype.

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