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The 'Wild, Wild West of energy'

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Over the past three decades, the electric utility landscape has changed considerably. We’ve seen a growing focus on reducing energy consumption, implementing energy efficient solutions and going “green.” But, this wasn’t always the case. What used to be the domain of hippies is now fair game for the average business person. Solar energy is a viable solution moving forward, ultimately costing less per month and annually.

Over the past 20 years, as business, industry and governments have focused on cutting costs and trying to increase productivity and efficiency, the federal and state governments have looked at opening up the electric utility market to see if deregulating the generation component would result in lower prices and a more competitive market. The next iteration was the deregulation of the electric utility. In this wave, Californians got their first taste of the “Wild, Wild West of energy."

We had Enron fleecing the state, as well as municipalities and the private sector. The CPUC broke up the monopolistic structure of the Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) and ordered them to divest 50 percent to fossil-fired plants. But the utilities, realizing these plants were not designed for a competitive market, sold off their fossil-fired power plants. All of this activity created uncertainty and lack of confidence in the industry as a whole. In addition, the CPUC opened up the IOU market to energy entrepreneurs, which was a disaster.

The next big phase in the “Wild, Wild West of energy” was and still is renewable energy solutions. The renewables business is founded on great ideals and promised economics, but it also has had a downside — failed projects, failed companies with promised technology that never pans out, government investments into technology that goes nowhere, and regulation and legislation that can at times contradict itself.

With all of these changes came opportunities for new technologies, new solutions and new ways of doing business with a whole new list of opportunistic players. Looking back at the last three decades, the majority of these players are no longer in business and are unable to service their clients they sold technology or integrated solutions to — leaving the end user in a precarious situation.

Thus, “sustainability” and “consistency” are key words moving forward. In choosing an energy partner, one must ask: Will this company be around to support me in the years to come? Who will be left standing when the industry changes again?

Since 1938, Baker Electric Solar has been through the ups and downs of the energy industry. The largest turnkey solar contractor headquartered in San Diego, you can count on Baker Electric to handle your most critical energy needs in this ever-changing market. Unlike virtually all other companies in the renewables space, Baker Electric is a seasoned electrical contractor who was here before the “Wild Wild West of energy” came into being, and will be here well into the future, when we enter a new phase of energy.

-Submitted by Leslie Roolvink, Baker Electric.

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