Most of the U.S. energy infrastructure predates the turn of the 20th century. From transmission and distribution lines to generation plants, everything was constructed in the 1950s and 1960s with a 50-year life expectancy. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates $112 billion of investment is needed to upgrade existing energy infrastructure and gives the current state of infrastructure a D+ grade. In light of severe weather events, aging infrastructure issues of supply security, reliability and resiliency are all being scrutinized. Between 2003 and 2012, weather-related outages cost the U.S. economy an annual average of $18 billion to $33 billion.
More and more utilities are turning to virtual power plants to defer expensive investment in aging infrastructure. By tapping into aggregated distributed resources such as energy storage and energy management, utilities are developing demand-response programs that can be used to shift electricity demand. Shifting energy load reduces the amount of power high-users on the grid and reduces the need to build out the network.