Reimagining the Utility: Evolving the Functions and Business Model of Utilities to Achieve a Low-Carbon Grid
Dan Cross-Call, Manager, Rocky Mountain Institute

Electric utilities must modernize to serve new economic and policy objectives, including managing an increasingly distributed and decarbonized power system. A fundamental question for this future system is: What is the appropriate scope for utility functions (and associated earnings opportunities) versus those that should be provided by a competitive marketplace. As described in RMI’s report, Reimagining the Utility (available at, utilities can evolve to be a platform for integrating services from other providers, or they can provide these services themselves through expanded ownership of assets. This talk will share insights from RMI’s work on regulatory and utility business model reform, drawing upon work with leading utilities and regulators on these issues, as well as efforts of RMI’s Electricity Innovation Lab (eLab). Key questions will be identified that all reform efforts should consider (for example, who owns and controls assets, and how risk is borne by different market participants), and cases of notable utility reform will be explored.