Carolina Energy 2019: A Convergence Ahead

From Scott Carlberg

What should Carolinians expect, ask for, or watch for in their energy world in 2019? Energy Consumers of the Carolinas asked a handful of energy professionals. Their answers share a theme – Data. What does mean for consumers: More ways to manage energy use and more lessons to learn about energy.

Over the next few weeks we’ll share what we heard about the year 2019 in energy.

The original was rotary dial

Here’s some context. Let’s go back to the old days of your telephone. Way back, around 1960. There was a lot of press about a new telephone. The Princess Phone (registered TM of AT&T). The Princess model phone was just great. It was new, and advanced the style of phones. People liked it. It was one step in the progress of phones. Examine your phone now. The phone industry has changed. A lot.

We are in the Princess Phone era of electricity. Our electric service and choices will have just as dynamic a path. To my mind, it is hard to perceive the possibilities in the long term.

Keith Pehl

We can look just around the corner, though. We will see a unique convergence coming with vehicles and buildings, according someone who has set the pace in energy efficiency building construction. Keith Pehl, CEO of Optima Engineering, based in Charlotte, ““Energy storage will become more important to Carolinians in 2019.  Energy for buildings will start to merge with energy for vehicles. The energy that runs our buildings (electricity) will be powering our cars.  Our cars soon will be able to keep our refrigerators running when storms take out the electrical grid.”

In Germany there is a pilot test on this kind of thing, with used Volvo bus batteries finding an after-life “…to create a better understanding of how housing and energy systems can interact and contribute to more resource-efficient use of batteries in houses and vehicles.” (source)

The interplay of buildings and batteries has been mentioned as a way to provide power during blackouts and, “Even buildings without a sustainable source of energy can use batteries to avoid paying peak electricity rates at times of high demand, such as hot summer afternoons.” This was discussed in a media outlet aimed at apartment and condo folks.

Pehl sees the future of buildings and storage: “This will help make both our buildings and transportation more resilient in disasters and everyday life.  You will drive your battery around with you instead of driving to the store to get batteries. We will know this has happened when the question men ask each other is not ‘How much horsepower you got under the hood?’, but instead ask ‘How much KwH do you have under the hood?’”

2019 is going to be a year that sees advances our power system beyond its basic service – the Princess phone phase of our energy system – and moves it forward. Consumers can help move that ahead as they stay focused on the choices we have, and can request, of our services providers.

Photo attribution: Phone