The Energy Industry: A True Game Of ThronesThis is an updated version of my Aug 11, 2016 blog
One of the most popular TV shows is HBO’s Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling series “A Song of Ice and Fire.” The show takes place in the fictitious continent of Westeros, a land with many powerful factions who position themselves to all sit atop the Iron Throne. Each episode displays exciting scenes of power, influence, strategy, and dominance. After watching all seven seasons, I’ve realized that we in the energy industry are the living embodiment of the Game of Thrones. The similarities and correlations between the characters in Westeros and the current energy issues facing Americans are eerily similar. Allow me to explain.
The Lannister Family = Traditional Utilities
The Stark Family = The Coal Industry
The White Walkers = EPA bureaucrats
The Night’s Watch = Public Service Commissioners
The Iron Bank = Wall Street
Daenerys Targaryen = READ BELOW
Littlefinger = READ BELOW
Jon Snow = READ BELOW
The Night King = READ BELOW
The Lannister Family = Traditional Utilities
The Lannister Family
The Lannister Family represents traditional monopolistic vertically integrated utility companies. They ruled supreme, and no one dared challenge their business model, but times are changing. In the Lannister family, the patriarch is dead, thereby leaving it up to the children to continue the dynasty. The younger generation, guided by self-interest, doesn’t honor tradition like their ancestors. Some feel they don’t fit in and are actively fostering change and embracing new ideas. It seems that all around Westeros, people are gathering forces to challenge their supremacy, all the while the cost of ruling is rising, and the pressure of finances is quietly creeping up. The Lannisters are starting to lose allies and are doing everything they can to hold onto their power structure. (Just like utilities are losing traditional supporters due to customers self-generation and mergers and acquisitions within the industry). The Lannisters giving up Casterly Rock is the same as a utility walking away from a ½ built nuclear plant that has cost them billions. They are each re-allocating assets to deal with the new threat.
The Stark Family
The coal industry (Stark Family) was the first casualty of the Game of Thrones. Once well-respected, strong in dominance and influence, but in a short time, they were decimated by forces outside of their control. In the first episode, it all started when the Night’s Watch (PSC/PUC Commissioners) ran away from the White Walker while on guard duty, and Ned Stark carried out the law. The PSC/PUC (The Night’s Watch) reacted to the EPA bureaucrats (The White Walkers), and the coal industry (The Stark family) was directly affected – and now things were set in motion.
The Stark Family = The Coal Industry
The White Walkers
The White Walkers (EPA bureaucrats) were created by the tree elves to save the environment from man; now they are run amok. Those who were loyal to coal, along with the PSC/PUC, are the first to be attacked with the introduction of the Clean Power Plan (think Winter is Coming).
The Night’s Watch
The PSC/PUC (Night’s Watch) are secluded, with little interaction from outside influences. They are the front line to guard the wall against and protect the people (the ratepayers) against perceived threats. Respected and traditional, there is a level of honor to be chosen to serve.
The Iron Bank
The Iron Bank is Wall Street. They have all the money and fund the whole operation of the Lannisters’ rule (traditional utilities). They will go with whoever will repay their loans and provide return. Wall Street is looking at regulatory lag, and is frustrated with inaction and is instead starting to reward utility companies that innovate. The relationship between the Iron Bank and the Lannisters is showing strain, and any new power (energy model/technology) that arises may threaten that relationship.
No story would be complete without an outsider who is hell-bent on disrupting the status quo. Enter Daenerys Targaryen “Mother of Dragons,” the Solar and Wind Industry. The Mother of Dragons is traveling from area to area, giving the oppressed people freedom, much like solar /wind and deregulation is giving people freedom to choose their energy provider. Harnessing the power of heat and wind currents from the sky, Targaryen uses her dragons fly on the winds to breathe fire from above, liberating each area she encounters. Despite some pushback from the elite and those who favor the status quo, she keeps moving on, gaining unusual allies along the way.
Speaking of Targaryen’s unusual allies, you can now see that Petyr Baelish or “Littlefinger” is represented by Elon Musk. You never quite know what Littlefinger is up to, and yet he always comes out on top. His influence is strong, and now he has teamed up with the Mother of Dragons (Tesla and Solar City). He moves quickly to disrupt the status quo and brings change while getting richer in the process. Even though he met his demise in the last season, his influence is still being felt, and he has set many things in motion.
The Night King
The true threat to everyone in Westeros is the Night King. The Night King is cheap natural gas. The Starks (coal) were the first to see immense threat to their rule and is the real cause of their downfall. The Night King is spreading his influence all through the land, and is at his strongest when it is cold and hopes for a long, long winter. He converts strong warriors to his army, just like seeing coal fired electricity plants converted to natural gas. He is there when the sun doesn’t shine. He is there when the wind doesn’t blow. And cheap natural gas has been the real reason that coal is being decimated, all the while the White Walkers are blindly under the influence of the Night King, methodically promoting his agenda.
Jon Snow, son of Ned Stark, is trying to restore the Stark dominance, just like coal is attempting to make a comeback with some initial victories (elections). But as we learned in the last season, that is only a short dream, as Jon Snow is not a Stark. He is not a son of coal. Then who is Jon Snow?
Jon Snow is the game changer. Jon Snow is the one thing that can alter the entire dynamic and turn things on their heads. Dynasties will be threatened, loyalties will be tested, and the Game of Thrones will be forever changed. Jon Snow is battery storage.
Jon has always been around but dismissed because he was a bastard child. Biding his time, he has quietly gained credibility and respect. Battery storage has long been rumored to be the next frontier for energy independence, but for years the mantra was that it just wasn’t quite ready yet. Now Jon is ready to rule. Grid Storage Batteries have now become economical in some areas of the US. And just like the Night’s Watch has put its faith in him, we see PSC Commissions put faith into grid storage batteries. Jon Snow has gained credibility and proven he is viable for the job.
In the last episode, Jon Snow literally hooked up with wind and solar (Mother of Dragons) to reshape the landscape. Wind and Solar need battery storage to maximize their impact and potential. Together they will forever change the energy landscape. Together they can defeat the Night King who is spreading his influence all through the land. Jon and Daenerys potential offspring will be the True heirs to the Game of Thrones, and the people of Westeros will benefit.
Whether or not you watch the show, the Game of Thrones is happening all around you. The stage is set, and disruption and change are everywhere. There is only one season left. If you are like me, then when you read something about battery storage in the news you will raise your fist to the sky and yell “King in the North.”
If you like this article, please tweet/repost the link to share with friends. If you disagree with any of my opinions, just remember “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
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