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Caitlin MacLean
Senior Director, Innovative Finance
Caitlin MacLean is senior director of innovative finance at the Milken Institute. She oversees the research, development, execution and follow-up of our Financial Innovations Labs, which promote financial solutions to overcome economic and social challenges. During MacLean's tenure at the Institute, the Labs have resulted in concrete outcomes, including the...
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How intelligent is your garage?
By: Caitlin MacLean
November 15, 2012
   
   
Worried about your gasoline prices? With the average price of a gallon of gas in Los Angeles hovering around $3.85, consumers are bracing for more sticker shock. However, new energy sources are emerging as potentially realistic alternatives to oil. Natural gas, wind, solar, and renewable fuels are expanding our options, while also generating economic growth and job creation in the United States.

These days, you can charge your car almost as easily as you can charge your iPhone. And the demand for the Teslas and CODAs of the automotive world is growing. The potential to end weekly trips to the gas station by going electric or hybrid demonstrates how important these technologies are to driving disruptive market change. But as the appetite for smart car technology grows, our aging electric grid will need a major makeover to meet the increased demand for power. This raises the question: How smart is your garage?

A research team at UCLA is developing a system to allow your house to become a car-charging station, creating your own storage unit to regulate how and when you use your energy. Your garage becomes the route toward power optimization, at home and as you travel.

What this means to the average customer is a dramatic reduction in your overall energy expenses. To see how much money youaEUR(TM)ll save, watch the video. Steven (Mac) Heller, executive chairman of CODA Automotive, breaks down the massive cost efficiencies of electric vehicles about 25 minutes into a panel.

During the panel, experts in the renewable energy field offered concrete opportunities to move technologies from the lab to the market. And that doesn't just mean solar panels on your roof. It means a menu of options that can shift the United States from an importer to an exporter of energy.

However, this will take investment, political will and support from consumers. As California Public Utilities Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon said during the panel, "As the song goes: Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die." We are all responsible for making the change toward an energy-efficient society and now is the time to take the next step.


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