46 Journal of Corporation Law 1003 (2021)
For over a century, electricity in the United States has been generated and sold mainly by centralized powerplants. Although this model of power collection and distribution has many advantages, resiliency is a growing problem. Brittle infrastructure and growing complexity have made the nation’s power grid less reliable over the past twenty years. Some technologists believe the solution is to go small. In the past five years, small communities in the United States and overseas have built “micro-grids”—networks of roof-top solar panels that store electricity in communal banks of batteries, combined with software that allows homeowners and businesses to buy and sell this electricity from one another. The designers of these systems believe that the private sale of electricity among neighbors will carry substantial benefits for the public, including the potential to make electricity more reliable, resilient, and renewable.
A challenge stands in the way, however: how to effectively and securely govern electricity as a shared resource among neighbors. This symposium Article examines how well blockchain—the technology that brought the world Bitcoin—might help solve this problem by tracking electricity production and sales in a neighborhood. This Article examines this question through three case studies of blockchain-enabled microgrids in the United States, Europe, and Australia. We conclude that some types of blockchain technologies could help make the dream of a peer-to-peer energy commons a reality. Widespread adoption of this technology will require the support and cooperation of local, state, and federal regulators and lawmakers, however.
Mattioli, Michael and Shackelford, Scott J., "Powerhouses: A Comparative Analysis of Blockchain-Enabled Smart Microgrids" (2021). Articles by Maurer Faculty. 3004.