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  • By Jeffrey Voacolo

Decentralizing the grid

All across the world, countries, communities, villages and towns are moving their energy grid to a more decentralized state. This makes sense for resiliency, energy security and in turn lower cost to produce and consume energy. The day is coming when our reliance on centralize power plants to produce our energy and for us to consume this energy generation that travels tens of miles are soon over.

This is not only happening on the energy level but on every level of our society regarding generation. From the institutional investors who are investing more in renewable energy and less in conventional power plants, with the big houses like Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and other investment firms steering monies away from these antiquated investments, afraid that these will be stranded assets in less than 10 years from now with risk levels rising for these types of investment.

Companies that produce every type of product are turning their products greener with biodegradable products and the energy that run their companies and factory lines going greener to attract the younger generation who really care what happens to this planet. There are also companies with products that have been around for over 60 years changing their product lines from gas and diesel fuel to solar, storage and wind class fuels.

There is a major shift going on and few people are paying attention. When there is a technology shift in this industry, it usually starts out very slow for the first 10 to 20 years until you get a 10 percent deflection. When this happens, this industry shift expands with fury and gets its legs. The cell phone industry is a perfect example of this change. The first cell phone per se was introduced in 1974. Believe me very few people had these. Technology was clunky and the pricing was exuberant.

Fast forward 20 years later when the 10 percent deflection occurred, the masses could not live without one. Now mainstreamed, no one has a landline and your five-year-old needs one badly and of course we as parents need to know where they are every minute of the day.

I do not know how we all survived without one, although I would bet some of us wish they never existed and we could all go hide without someone calling us, texting us, whatsapping us every minute of the day. Even now, 46,000 miles up in the sky flying across the Pacific Ocean someone can get ahold of you. Incredible, to say the least.

Energy is going through this same transformation. It’s exciting and scary. Living on a remote island, where one system has monopolized the delivery of our energy to the villages for more than 70 years and where few people have ever questioned this transmission of energy from one location to another, is very scary. Now coupled this energy with, yet again, centralized solar farms, it is even scarier. Scary because of limited resiliency and energy security.

The solar energy industry, coupled now with energy storage, is growing at a lightning speed rate. Every aspect of the industry is getting more efficient and healthier. In a year’s time, it is incredible how fast technology is moving in energy storage. In less than five years, every home will be its own nano power plant for a third of the price of their energy now.

The solar energy industry is growing so quickly. Storage is becoming mainstream that there will be no need for any centralized power plants. With typhoons becoming stronger and stronger, does anyone really believe that 60MW solar farms concentrated in one place, just like a centralized power plant, is really a good idea.

Everyone needs to take a closer look at what is happening in our energy sector. We the people, who will be paying for these decisions for the next 30 years, need to speak up to our leaders and push back on these very bad decisions.

In some states across America, citizens are being levied a tax on their already high utility bills to decommissioned useless centralized power plants. Is this fair to push these fees on the ratepayers?

Bob Dylan’s 1964 hit “The Times They Are A-Changin’” was a stable in my life. I have always recognized that change, no matter how scary and difficult it may be, must happen in society to progress as a race. We must embrace change in energy as the younger generation has. These times are exciting and they are a changing.

Excerpts from Dylan’s song:

Come gather round people,

Wherever you may roam

And admit that the water around you has grown

And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone,

If your time to you is worth savin’

Then you better start swimmin’

Or you’ll sink like a stone

For the times they are a changin’.

Jeff Voacolo is the vice president and chief operations officer of Micronesia Renewable Energy Inc. Send feedback to


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