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RELEASE: New Energy Technologies and the Utility Death Spiral Shouldn’t Lead to an ‘Electrical Divide’

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Contact: Anne Shoup
Phone: 202.481.7146

Washington, D.C. — Today the Center for American Progress released a report highlighting what could result from the coming “utility death spiral” and higher levels of distributed energy technologies: the “electrical divide.” If these deeply transformative changes in the U.S. power sector are not managed properly, 21st century America could see an emerging electrical divide not unlike the digital divide of the late 20th century, which was created by the inequitable provision of new telecommunications services such as broadband Internet and cell phone service.

The United States has a proud history of making sure that everyone benefits from electricity. State regulations paired with federal investments through things such as the Tennessee Valley Authority have made sure that every single American has access to affordable, reliable electricity. As new technologies emerge, we need to maintain this focus on universal access to affordable, reliable, safe, and clean electricity.

“Now’s the time to focus on avoiding the electrical divide,” said Richard W. Caperton, Managing Director of Energy at the Center for American Progress. “A successful shift to new energy technologies means that all Americans benefit from cleaner, more reliable, and more cost-effective electric service.”

The report offers several possible ways to address the electrical divide:

  • Repurposing existing electric service programs
  • Regulatory changes to the electric industry
  • Giving companies incentives to address the electrical divide
  • Creating a federally owned provider of new energy resources
  • Dialoguing processes to identify solutions

While new energy technologies and innovations are to be welcomed for what they can bring in terms of economic opportunity, technological leadership, and the stewardship of our environmental resources, they must be managed with an eye toward inclusion and aim to bridge any potential electrical divide that emerges.

Read the report: The Electrical Divide: New Energy Technologies and Avoiding an Electric Service Gap by Richard W. Caperton and Mari Hernandez

For more information, contact Anne Shoup at or 202.481.7146.


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