JonUdell piece on the "smart" energy infrastructure needed to manage diminishing energy : drawing http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2004/10/04.html#a1087 drawing on the book by JeremyRifkin.
(links Wired's http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.07/juice_pr.html))
He also notes the advantages of electricity over petrol.
Electricity has become the fundamental unit of energy for a modern society. One reason is that it allows the lowest power interconnection – telecommuting. A second is that it offers the best hope for hyper-localized production. A third is that it is potentially fungible, meaning that it can be sold back to the collective grid if unused locally. That combo means that it is the key to high resiliency in modern society. If you can produce electricity at the home and local level you can also weather disconnection from the grid with a decreasing list of deleterious effects (as efficiency and capacity increase).
In contrast, gasoline is the hard problem. The pressures of making a mobile solution, the one-way nature/complexity of the current infrastructure, and a plethora of seemingly viable alternatives will confuse the issue for years to come. It's very likely, nay probable, that the wrong solution will gain steam – like bio-fuels. Solving the hard problem first is a false path. It only delays the outcome.
Note some of the comments by the co-founder of WorldChanging here : http://www.life-enhancement.com/le/neofiles/default.asp?ID=66
RobertCringely thinks broadband over the power-lines is the trojan horse to bring it into the home : http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpittestorig.html