Achieving a carbon-free electric system takes more than technology. That’s the bottom-line message from a national energy summit that highlighted Carolina utilities. A summary of the event was noted in UtilityDive magazine, as noted below.

Technology such as smart meters, upgraded transmission lines, non-carbon power generation – think solar, water, wind, nuclear – and residential technologies like efficient appliances and automation, will all aid the cause of a carbon-free grid.

What else? Educated customers. The report said, “‘We’ve got to really advance what our customers see and hear, and what products they are able to utilize to affect their electricity consumption,’ said Steve Young, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Duke Energy.”

Dominion chief operating officer Diane Leopold noted that technology provides customers with new “information behind the meter they are not used to having access to.” That enables customers to wisely use power.

What else has to happen? Smart policy from states and the feds.

“On the supply side, executives emphasized that building storage and transmission projects to bring power to where it’s needed can take years because of the complex permitting system,” said the report. “In order to meet the administration’s goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030, all levels of government will have to work together.”

Expectations change, too, which adds urgency to the need for logical regulation. Carbon-free energy had been expressed as a 2050 goal for a long time. Increasingly I see 2040 and 2035 named as target years for many organizations. With new research on energy resources and the need to move faster on goals, that can move closer in. Moving target.

Unlocking clean energy is not reliant on one path, but several. It is not reliant on one group, but all of us working together. What is important is that utilities need to be flexible, smart, and team-oriented to be exemplary performers for their customers.

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Feature image is a transmission system in south Charlotte