There is certainly a role for new utility business models and engineering architectures in power production. Part of the problem we see currently is some utilities holding tight to status quo regulated business models with their mandated profit margins. In order to facilitate the growth of new power architectures such as micro-grids, but also other forms of distributed power and storage, the regulatory business models need to be challenged and evolved.
There is an implicit bargain in utility business models, both for electricity and telecom, where the utility is required to serve all customers no matter how far away or unprofitable in return for regulated pricing and overall profit margins. This model did its job in the 20th century to electrify the country and provide phone service everywhere with great benefit to society.
Now these old business models are straining against the evolution of technology and pollution. Wireless cellular service has allowed telecoms to transcend traditional phone line service and the companies lobbied successfully to be not required to provide equal service everywhere. There are good arguments for and against this regulatory shift but some of the results are clear: service providers are now far more nimble to advance the technology and provide new services that are popular with customers, but at the same time certain geographies and populations are being left out because it is too expensive and unprofitable for providers to build infrastructure there.
A similar pattern is emerging with renewables and microgrids. Some power utilities are not even allowed under current rules to do things like provide rooftop solar to customers, and others would presumably have regulatory challenges in providing microgrids as well. There are many technical advantages to distributed power and microgrids, but they come with added upfront costs which need to be hashed out on a case-by-case basis. Good justifications for investment include improved reliability, fuel diversification, reduced GHG, local business arrangements, and others. But these evaluations are made more complex with tight regulatory regimes.
In my opinion we need to evolve the social contract that drove these 20th century regulatory regimes for the 21st. We need more thoughtful public-private partnerships that both allow the service providers more flexibility in the investments they want to make so the technology and business models can move forward, while at the same ensuring that the poor and less affluent are not left behind. Otherwise we will see wealthy areas served with high quality electric power and telecom capacity while the poor scrape by, like it is in the third world, and I don't think that is a result we desire.