If utilities think rooftop solar panels and batteries are bad for business, blockchain should scare the bejeezus out of them. That’s because in addition to helping more people slap panels on their rooftops — which eats into power sales and taxes grids — the distributed, digital ledger that’s proliferated across industries can also be used to trade electricity without a utility even knowing it. Imagine your neighbor with a solar panel directly selling you cheap power to charge your Tesla.
Sure, there are some utilities that see the future and are trying to use blockchain to their advantage, but others ignoring it may soon start losing business to new hyper-local energy suppliers with a powerful tool to manage billions of data points cheaper and faster. “It’s changing the entire infrastructure,” said Jan Vrins, head of Navigant Consulting Inc.’s energy practice. “If utilities don’t embrace it and play a role, they will have a slowly sinking business.”