This is a story about change, new markets, and new competitors. And utilities are writing it.
Beginning with the first commercial electrical system developed by Thomas Edison in 1882, and for most of the succeeding century, the U.S. electrical grid was a hub-and-spoke system, with large central generating stations providing power to customers located within a radius that grew over the years as transmission systems improved. The power flowed from generation source to electricity user; and utilities balanced total supply within electrical control areas to match the aggregate varying load. Following the lead of industry innovator Samuel Insull, utilities also used demand meters to measure customer usage and relied on a system of state regulatory commissions to ensure standard pricing, continuous revenues, and system investment.
After passage of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act in 1978, commercial and industrial customers could sell power into the grid, too, if they had qualified cogeneration facilities.
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