Since the introduction of distributive energy, the energy system followed a linear model where producers generated energy and and customers consumed. Energy flowed from transmission and distribution networks to feed a growing economy. Today’s energy model has essentially been unchanged since its introduction. This linear model continues to struggle in meeting carbon emission reduction targets and alleviating energy poverty. A recent 2019 Energy Information Administration poll of Ohio households reflected that nearly a third of Ohioan households are struggling to pay their energy costs. The problem extends into small and medium, commercial energy consumers. Interstate and global competition pressures Ohio consumers households and jobs. A large component to these competitive pressures are the direct costs of energy. Energy costs consume large sections of household incomes and business expenditures.
Another component is the additional frustration built by consumers around initiatives like the early 2019 proposal HR6. This legislative initiative was argued to charge all Ohio ratepayers a fee on their monthly bill to subsidize two profitable nuclear power plants. Local energy consumers, small and large, have limited options when it comes to lowering their costs and staying competitive. citizens and organizations alike are frustrated with the lack of options. This encourages public perception that legislation involving energy, pressures representatives for additional rate fees to large centralized energy producers. With these and others, Community leaders, business heads, and government representatives have historically focused a large majority of their efforts in Ohio with competitiveness in conservation.
Conservation is just one side of the coin. Investment in renewable energy sources have serged in Ohio since the decision to begin shuttering coal energy producing centers around the country. Since this decision to shift to more sustainable energy sources, Ohio still generates approximately 59% of its electricity from coal, 24% from natural gas, about 13% from nuclear. Despite continuing investment only 2% of Ohioians receive their electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and hydropower. The large driver for non-growth in renewable energy sources has been the large capital cost and long payback periods on these types of investments.
The traditional linear model for energy production, delivery, and use has been centralized, one-way flow, energy production to passive energy consumers. These factors have left the residential user with the options of either continuing to rely on established energy producers to keep costs low or individually invest in renewables such as solar or wind at large capital costs. When the opportunity for a residential power user is available to invest in renewable energy sources, the systems are expensive, complicated, and tie homeowners to technologies which could become obsolete prior to the payback period. Unfortunately, the option to individually invest in off-setting
renewables is often prohibited by zoning regulations and property conditions, particularly in urban and suburban areas.
As outlined here, the complex problem of energy costs and usage for the Ohio energy user is factored by lack of competitive options for energy, the slow-moving pace of investment in renewables, and the complicated and cost prohibited installment of private renewables. However, the energy industry is rapidly changing as emerging technologies such as “designed solar homes, advanced geo-thermal techniques, new battery storage, smart devices, and the expanse of electrical transportation. These emerging technologies are creating the environment for more individual flexibility, visability, and control in not only how energy is produced but also how energy could be delivered, used, and paid.
The effort to solve these sophisticated problems has been the genesis of several innovative grass-root initiatives, organizations, and alternative thinking startups. These new companies and organizations have set their sights on the newest technologies and emerging markets to help solve the problems with energy production, delivery, and payment. Jordan Energy Alternative (JEA) is a hybrid of a silicon valley style tech startup with a clean-energy provider; whose goal is to join the emerging group of organizations, in Ohio, to supply products and services (distributive energy resources) to Ohio customers to reduce energy costs and accelerate the pace towards reliance on clean renewable energy. Given their small scale, relatively low cost and predominantly renewable nature, distributed energy resources represent what many consider to be the best solution for addressing our dual challenge addressing carbon reduction targets and alleviating the energy poverty cycle.