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Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Green Energy Business Model

I just recently heard about a new sustainable-power business model.  It would work best in areas where cost of electric power rates are in the medium to high range.  I hope it takes off. 

Customer: Warehouses, BigBox businesses, etc.  It could be any operation that consumes power (for lighting, machinery, etc) and has an open roof sprawl.

Technology: Solar panels on the roof collect cheap energy to reduce higher energy costs paid to local grid power company.  Solar power on the roof could supply approximately 20% of the electrical needs of the business.

Problem: Solar power installed on the roof would be expensive up front.  The power costs are only cheaper when amortized over decades.  It requires skilled maintenance, which is not the core competency of the business.

Solution: A third party business whose core competence is solar power purchases the equipment and maintains it.  The Big Box business signs a 20 year contract to buy all the solar power supplied from the roof by the 3rd party business.

Everybody's Happy: The Big Box business saves on energy costs.  The 3rd party power company makes money and employs people.  The citizens get cleaner power generation used in their environment.  Ubiquitous solar power will drive down cost, making it even more competitive.

I think this is the first time I've ever gotten excited about a business model.  Merry Christmas.

Burton MacKenZie www.burtonmackenzie.com


Friday, December 19, 2008

My internet has been down for almost a week.  

It's been like turning off the electricity.  Sure, you can live without it, but it really makes a lot of things easier.

How long is it before our functional society is so deeply embedded into a bidirectional commodity data service (i.e. the internet) that it will collapse without it?  At one technological company where I worked, during an internet outage the apathetic network guy told the president he'd "get around to fixing it later".  The president pretty much flipped out on him, as lack of internet brought the productivity of the engineering design team to zero.  The network guy, of all people, did not understand this.

If a commodity data service can be comparable to commodity energy (e.g. electricity, natural gas, etc), why would you pay more for the end use of the service?  You do not pay a different base rate for electricity if you're using it for your stove instead of your laptop.  That would be crazy.  Similarly, you should not be charged differently depending on if your data is used for email, surfing, or downloading mp3s.  Data should be charged at a rate of amount of data actually transferred (i.e. how much of the commodity did you use), with other commercial factors like average bandwidth, latency, etc.

If the power company wanted to charge us different rates depending on the nature of what you were using it for, there would be revolt in the streets!  That is an artificial business model based solely upon squeezing more money out of the consumer, not based on costs of supplying the commodity.

That is what Net Neutrality is about.  Data is a commodity service, like electricity.  By allowing coporations to charge you based on the intended use of the data rather than proportional to the actual costs of supplying the service, they are imposing an artificial business model, for the good of them, not you.  Regardless of what their propaganda tells you, it is only about more money for the corporations supplying the data service.  There should be revolt in the streets if this ever happens.  Do not let it.  Data must be neutral!

Control the nature of the data service, and control the blossoming massively parallel interconnected society.  I do not believe corporations should have a grip on our balls.  Do you?

Burton MacKenZie www.burtonmackenzie.com