communication and control technologies must be placed on the grid. These controls are collectively referred to as smart grid. While renewable sources tend to drive power generation costs down, they similarly increase network costs. Implementation expenses notwithstanding, smart grid and renewable deployment holds tremendous potential to improve energy reliability, efficiency and sustainability in a way that should result in substantial reduction in Caribbean electricity prices. Motors and others, as well as endeavours such as AT&T Labs’ multi-gigabit project aimed at leveraging electrical power lines to deliver Internet service. These developments promise to blur the line between auto industry and electric utility as well as spark unprecedented convergence among the telecom and electricity industries.
Grid volatility, planning uncertainties, industry complexity and regulatory ambiguities sparked at least in part by the aforementioned technologies have disrupted demand for electricity across the globe. Some utilities have embraced and responded admirably to innovation’s call. They are preparing to power electric cars and bidding on renewable energy projects far away from their home shores. Others – particularly right here in the Caribbean – have become introverted, doubling down on their ancient, Flinstonian philosophies – embedding revenue guarantees, establishing profit bands and retreating from a full commitment to system lossreduction. But whether these utilities embrace change or remain recalcitrant, the market is evolving and a new orientation based on alertness and agility will ultimately prevail. Admittedly, with such rapid change comes tremendous uncertainty for regulators and policymakers alike. Complexities notwithstanding, let it not be said, tomorrow, that the Caribbean electricity industry failed to seize the moment and were left fearfully clutching the past. It is now clear that a bold new future has already arrived.