By SOCAR USA

The United States has a Department of Energy that sets broad energy policy and promotes technology innovation, but it has no mandate to champion consumers.

Each of the 50 states sets rules on how utilities provide electricity to customers — and the utilities are so powerful that they often go against consumers’ interests.

An example is utilities lobbying officials in a number of states for policies that discourage consumers from adding off-grid solar and wind power, which would lower those consumers’ bills but also lower the utilities’ incomes.

Florida is a case in point. Although it has more sunshine than any state, its utilities have succeeded in making off-grid solar power such a bad financial deal for consumers that few are adding solar.

But there is hope in places like Florida.

Individual consumers lack the clout to force utilities to embrace renewables, but large corporations have such power — and many are now demanding that utilities supply them with energy only from renewable sources.

Microsoft and Facebook are among 60 corporations that belong to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance.

Corporations are also building their own renewable power sources, reducing their dependence on utilities.

This corporate determination is forcing U.S. utilities to embrace renewables. And the more they do, the more chance they will work with consumers who want off-grid renewables rather than fight them.

Europe was a renewables pioneer, but it’s rate of adding renewables capacity has declined.

European corporations could do individual electricity consumers a favor by forming a group like the Renewable Energy Buyers Association to force change on utilities that have dragged their feet on renewables.

SOCAR USA is the U.S. representative office of SOCAR, the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, and is headed by Director Rauf Mammadov. The office was founded in 2012 and is engaged in generating awareness of the company’s global activities in the United States and exploring U.S.-based energy-industry opportunities.