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Will big utilities kill the distributed grid?

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Ocean with power plant stock 1020
Ocean with power plant stock 1020

Entrepreneurs often dream of a power grid fueled by small-scale power sources like rooftop solar panels and backyard wind farms — but as Technology Review explains, getting there may be harder than we think. Big utilities aren't keen on losing business to homegrown power, and because they control the wires and transformers needed to distribute all that power, they have a lot of say in how the industry develops. After taking the mood at this week's Advanced Energy Conference, Tech Review concludes that utilities are more interested in holding back the new wave of power than profiting from it. That's bad news for Elon Musk and the solar industry at large, but as countless other disrupted industries can testify, it's hardly a long-term plan.