Season 4 • Episode 2

Distributed Energy Resources


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Research Assistant:

Kenzie Luterbach – UWSP Student

Podcast Live Event:


Made possible with support from the Sally Mead Hands Foundation.

About Episode 2: Distributed Energy Resources

The plan is to electrify the economy. Reduce the combustion of fossil fuels for heating and transportation by replacing them with electricity from a grid powered by low-carbon sources like solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear.  These are the basics of the energy transition but, there are two competing visions for how we accomplish it.  

The first vision is to extend the current utility business model to build the new fleet of generation and transmission in the image of the old, using the same ownership structure, regulatory paradigm, and relationship to ratepayers. The competing vision is a grid optimized for distributed energy resources (DERs). Comparing the two development pathways leads to some pretty clear conclusions.  The first scenario, business as usual, may be the quickest to implement (it’s what we’ve always done and it’s what the utility lobby wants) and it’s by far the most expensive. The second scenario, DER optimized, is more affordable, more resilient, and creates more jobs. However, it involves consumers as stakeholders and decision makers in the energy system.  

In this episode, Nick Hylla and Katie Kienbaum discuss the promise of DERs in the energy transition and the policy actions needed to ensure that everyone has access to the social and environmental benefits provided by a DER optimized system. 


Andrew Kell Head Shot

About Our Guest: Katie Kienbaum
Research Associate – Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Katie is a Senior Researcher with ILSR’s Energy Democracy initiative, where she researches and writes about equitable and decentralized clean energy and its impact on communities across the country. Before joining the Energy Democracy initiative, she was a Research Associate with the Community Broadband Networks initiative.  

    Rise Up Podcast Live Event!

    Join your host Nick Hylla for a live podcast panel during The Energy Fair! Hear from the guests of Season 4, followed by a Q&A session. Tickets are on sale now. The Energy Fair takes place June 23-25, at MREA in Custer, WI


    Address: 7558 Deer Rd. Custer, WI 54423
    Phone: (715)-592-6595

    The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) is a nonprofit organization with the mission to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration.