As California Public Utilities Commission member Catherine Sandoval noted late last month, there\u2019s a lot of the state north of the regulators\u2019 headquarters in San Francisco and Sacramento. There\u2019s a whole bunch more south and east of Los Angeles. \tWhen utilities set up their distribution, transmission, and gas systems nearly a century ago, it was a massive endeavor. Much like railroads from New York to Fresno, with the \u201cindustrial revolution\u201d came a frenzy of electric infrastructure building, and to a lesser extent natural gas to California. The federal government allowed the Hetch Hetchy hydro plant to be built near Yosemite to electrify the Bay Area. Utilities became like railroad companies in their zeal to adopt territory. The California Public Utilities Commission was formed to put a lid on those monopolies. \tToday, the state\u2019s electric and gas infrastructure are craggy and getting feeble. \tThe state does need to pour more money into safety upgrades. But, as the aftermath of the San Bruno natural gas explosion and the San Diego wildfires show\u2014just because you have ratepayers getting utilities\u2019 backs, doesn\u2019t mean that things are fixed. \tI invite regulators to consider a world after 100 years of massive infrastructure. There should be a bridge to a new, less monopolistic, more regionally distributed electricity and gas system. \tThe grid, in itself, is great for sending electricity around the state. But, there\u2019s no backstop to allow communities to decouple in case they need to and run on their own. \tThink Hurricane Sandy. There were plenty of neighborhoods with their own solar, but they were prevented from using it because of the requirement that it all be attached to the grid. \tIn California, there\u2019s the nascent \u201cmicrogrid\u201d that could help in disasters, supplying power separate and apart from the centralized grid. \tFor instance, on July 8, the California Energy Commission awarded $1.7 million to Camp Pendleton near San Diego to create its own power pod for its vehicles. That\u2019s a microgrid of sorts. \tI suggest that in some 2060 future, that there be a big grid, and smaller ones that can work on their own. Far more than vehicles, regions and neighborhoods can be their own microgrids for electricity. \tIt probably won\u2019t apply to Los Angeles, but in the vast areas that are not urban, distributed generation could start to replace the aging infrastructure at a lower cost and with increased reliability. \tFor instance, an earthquake in Northridge wouldn\u2019t be so catastrophic if there were neighborhood-based systems, rather than a big monopoly supplying power from far-away plants. \tThink ahead to a new infrastructure paradigm for your grandkids. \tFrom San Diego to Redding, it\u2019s a marvelous mass of geography and culture. It\u2019s also an enormous challenge for electric and gas infrastructure. \tSandoval visited the Humboldt Bay power plant. It still houses a nuclear plant that was shut down in 1976 because the site is near three earthquake faults; there were also two aging fossil plants. They\u2019ve been replaced with 163 MW of new fossil power. But, Humboldt Bay is not even near the Oregon border. \tThe vastness of energy infrastructure demands that an expensive, now old, transmission and gas infrastructure be replaced or heavily maintained if the state wants to keep monopoly utilities from border to border. \tThere are a lot of good things to say about those monopolies. But one of the bad things is that there\u2019s aging infrastructure when there could be distributed generation. Utilities could still control the territories\u2014if that makes sense. But, instead of running from the Oregon border to San Luis Obispo, for instance, there\u2019d be local pods of distributed generation in the future. \tThe Humboldt pod could consist of the fossil generators, but if they go out in an earthquake or tsunami, then there could be an alternate inland source, like existing biomass that could be switched over\u2014instead of the entire system shutting down. \tStorage will be key. In a regional pod, for instance, solar may be available part of the day, but at night, some stored energy can keep the lights on. As the importance of storage is high on policymakers\u2019 list, and is being funded through state and federal programs, it will be available by grandkid time. \tThe thing is the microgrid, pod, or whatever you want to call it\u2014\u201coff-grid\u201d\u2014can help people maintain their power and heat without the Big Brother & Sister connection to the investor-owned utilities\u2019 grid. \tI\u2019m not advocating that infrastructure shouldn\u2019t be repaired in the short-term. But after 100 years of infrastructure decline, the long-term plan for the vast state should be distributed generation. It\u2019s just too much cost to rebuild everything from Oregon to Arizona when state policy is going more local, and more toward the clean energy loading order.