Businessweek magazine says there are 3,200 utilities (!) that make up the U.S. electrical grid. They sell $400 billion of electricity every year, mostly derived from burning fossil fuels in centralized power stations, and distributed over 2.7 million miles of power lines. (In the Pacific Northwest we generate up to 70% of our energy with hydropower stations). Says Businessweek : Regulators set the rates, utilities get guaranteed returns, investors get sure-thing dividends. It’s a model that has not changed much since Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. And it’s doomed to obsolescense. There is a confluence of green energy and computer technology, deregulation, cheap natural gas and political pressure that, says David Crane of NRG Energy, poses a mortal threat to the system. Rooftop solar in particular, is turning tens of thousands of businesses and homes into power producers : ‘distributed generation’. Of course, it’s going to be a long haul to see how all of this plays out. But it seems certain that the energy and technology sectors will no longer be supplier and customer. They will be competing directly with each other.