Luminalt worker installs a solar panel on the roof of a home on May 9, 2018, in San Francisco, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

As the costs for fossil fuels continue to rise and the prices for renewable energy hit all-time lows, fast-moving startups and adaptive incumbents are developing new energy service models.

The big picture: Traditional utility models, organized around the subsidized delivery of commodity electricity, are facing pressure from distributed-service models, which promise to deliver the tailored, efficient and connected energy services to power emerging smart-home markets and meet increasingly discerning consumers.

Energy providers have historically enjoyed the luxury of soft customer expectations and narrow demand for services outside of electricity delivery. But this has started to change:

  • Demand-response technology such as Tendril’s “Orchestrated Energy” software uses smart-home tools to analyze power grid load to improve supply-demand efficiencies, saving customers money and reducing costly infrastructure spending for utilities.
  • Subscription and as-a-service models from new companies like Sparkfund and Budderfly remove the constraints of ownership, giving more organizations access to efficiency technology, just as streaming services give more users access to movies or music.
  • Distributed-power models such as ConEdison’s allow customers to generate and manage their own electricity using solar panels and other technology, relieving pressure on the grid and lowering utility customer bills.

The bottom line: To keep up, utilities must restructure service models to deliver more complex distributed-energy services. While some major utilities are making bold investments in the future, the majority of the market is stuck in the past. Unless that changes quickly, historically stable utility stocks are likely in for a rough ride.

Steve McBee is former CEO of NRG Home.

Go deeper

Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 30,393,591 — Total deaths: 950,344— Total recoveries: 20,679,272Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 6,722,699 — Total deaths: 198,484 — Total recoveries: 2,556,465 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.