The new electric grid: Smaller power sources run by local governments

Endeavour Energy, an Australian electric utility, is laying the foundation for what it sees as a massive turn in the power-generation industry: Electricity creation and distribution will become the province of small, local entities – town governments, co-ops, factories, small businesses or even neighborhoods.

The change is being forced by the global rise of renewable energy sources coupled to in-line storage, such as Tesla’s Powerwall home batteries, as well as commercial-scale flow batteries and other storage technologies.

Endeavour is raising money to create a localized grid of about 200 homes near Sydney. The homes will be fitted with rooftop solar arrays coupled to in-home storage batteries.

Endeavour also is developing a large storage array for another housing tract in its service area.

Other Australian utilities are exploring new business models, including microgrids linked to a larger, centralized grid for backup and load management, and dedicated microgrids for shopping centers and hospitals.

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