About Peter Asmus

Peter Asmus, president of Pathfinder Communications, is an internationally known expert on energy and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) matters.  He is also a journalist, community organizer, musician, photographer and poet.

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Contact Information:

Pathfinder Communications

PO Box 436

Stinson Beach, CA 94970

(415) 868-9866





Alaska: World's Market Leader on MIcrogrids

Rather than viewing microgrids as a threat to public safety due to intentional islanding and/or departing customer load on long-term revenue projections, a small, but growing number of utilities view the microgrid they may own and operate – a utility distribution microgrid (UDM) – as the next logical extension of their efforts to deploy smart grid technology. As I’ve noted earlier, the developed world can learn interesting lessons from the developing world.

Navigant Research’s base scenario shows that the total UDM market represents over $2.4 billion of economic activity today, with the bulk of this investment flowing into projects located in the Asia Pacific region. As has been noted in other Navigant Research reports, North America is the overall market leader. Yet when it comes to utilities, both Asia Pacific and Europe are ahead in near-term deployments and related implementation revenues. All told, this UDM market is forecasted to reach $5.8 billion under the base scenario in 2023, revenue compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.2%.

However, there is one important exception to this market generalization: Alaska.

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Will California State Lawmakers Pull the Plug on Community Energy?

California is schizophrenic (or perhaps dyslectic).

On the one hand, recent energy storage mandates in the form of last year’s AB 2514 have created great opportunities to test out how advanced batteries can help mitigate the frequency and voltage issues associated with high penetrations of variable renewable energy. Utilities such as San Diego Gas & Electric have suggested these mandates plant the seeds for new microgrids building upon the utility’s success with the Borrego Springs project, which it recently announced would be expanded.

This year’s AB 2145, nicknamed by critics as the “Monopoly Protection Act,” would introduce a major kink in efforts for the San Francisco Bay Area to give local governments the authority to purchase bulk renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions. The target of the legislation is a policy vehicle pioneered in states such as Ohio and Massachusetts, but which has fanned the flames of controversy in California known as “community choice aggregation.”

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Can the Developing World Teach the Developed World New Tricks on Energy?

With utility push back on policies that have historically supported distributed renewable energy emerging as a global phenomenon, it might be wise for vendors in the space not to push the panic button, and instead look to emerging markets in the developing world for a reality check.

As utilities and states modify their traditional support for technologies such as solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, purveyors of hardware and software that helps integrate distributed renewables into power grids see increasing opportunity. The decline in generous feed-in tariffs for solar PV, for example, creates new opportunities for energy storage.

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Can Nanogrids Deliver on the Promise of a "Wise" Instead of Smart Grid?

The U.S. set a record in 2013 for billion dollar disasters, according to Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report. Yet the $41 billion in economic losses paled if compared against 2012, since there was a lack of mega disasters in 2013 on the scale of Hurricane Sandy ($65 billion in damage) o the drought of 2012 ($30 billion in damage.)

In terms of smart energy, these disasters, and related power outages and need for emergency energy services, are fueling interest in microgrids, not only in the U.S., but in the developing world. Yet, what if these microgrids, so dependent upon smart inverters, were to accelerate the creation of a new form of “dirty electricity,” pulsing electromagnetic fields that could grow even more intense as power sources and control technologies increase radio frequencies (RF)?

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Zombies & Doomsday Fears Fuel Microgrid Frenzy

Real weather events such as Hurricanes Sandy and Irene have resulted in Connecticut plowing a total of $18 million into microgrids strategically located throughout the state, with 9 microgrids now moving forward with construction. An additional $30 million was recently approved by state lawmakers there to be distributed over the next two years to augment this initial investment by the State of Connecticut for additional microgrids. Other East Coast states such as New York are considering similar moves as a response to extreme weather apparently linked to global climate change.

Interest in microgrids is also spreading to the Midwest, where it was announced in late July that 9 states would collaborate under the umbrella of the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) to pursue economic development and new jobs initiatives linked to microgrid components and systems, with an eye toward opportunities in key export markets.

Some of us with greying hair (or perhaps no hair at all) may remember the advent of bomb out shelters from the 1950s. As a pre-teen, I recall going down into one such chamber on the outskirts of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, marveling at all of the supplies stored up in this underground structure, including rows and rows of canned goods (and my first glimpse of a Playboy calendar). With the thawing of the Cold War, the bomb out shelter fad faded away, though I still wonder what happened to these underground bunkers.

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