In its largest study to date, Itron surveyed more than 2,000 combined utility executives and informed consumers in key markets around the globe to benchmark energy and water management. The insights gathered this year point to the growing importance of the utility industry’s role in leading the transformation in managing finite resources. Increasingly, utilities are turning to new technologies to reduce wasted energy and water. Energy utility executives indicated a desire to have an integrated system that includes gas, solar and wind renewables, which will drive the transformation and address their changing business model. Meanwhile, our survey revealed a growing dissatisfaction with the level of communication and control consumers expect from their utility. At the same time, the majority of utility executives noted that they are excelling in communicating with their customers.
Technology is driving change in the utility sector faster today than it has since the advent of the industry more than a century ago. For utility customers – ranging from the largest corporations to individual households – new technologies are offering different ways to interact with their utility, from paying a bill to sourcing generation.
Many utilities have only just begun to transform the customer experience. However, a growing number of utilities no longer see their customers simply as ratepayers attached to a meter, but rather, as individuals with an array of preferences. In order to maintain their role as a trusted energy advisor, it will be necessary for utilities to gain a deeper understanding of customer preferences.
Our new report discusses a horizontal approach to each customer class – commercial, small business, municipal or residential – that requires an ongoing transformation, rather than a one-time pivot in business practices. By embarking on this transformation today, utilities will be well-positioned to increase their value to customers and shareholders.
DERs offer substantial opportunities to shift utilities toward a more sustainable and resilient energy system. This can yield significant economic and environmental benefits for utilities and renewable developers. The challenge is to deploy DERs in ways that support the evolution of more flexible power grids.
This paper identifies many of the issues that can hinder or derail promising DER initiatives and explores strategies utilities and developers can use to ensure projects deliver their promised benefits.
Enhancing value amidst policy and technological uncertainty
The utility market and regulatory landscape is shifting, bringing new challenges and opportunities.
It is still being decided how utilities will be compensated in a future that is increasingly composed of distributed energy resources and more active participation of customers and third parties. However, regulators are increasingly pushing forward market and regulatory reforms in support of these outcomes, which aim to more equitably balance shareholder and customer value.
Our latest report shows that regulatory foresight should be viewed as a strategy to embrace the future, thinking outside the box, and engage with regulators, customers and third-parties in new ways.
The Greensmith Energy white paper, Cracking the Code to Grid Congestion, addresses data management practices in the utility industry, identifying deficiencies that disrupt energy transmission and remedies that can vastly improve system performance. The modernization effort builds upon information technology solutions that have revolutionized other industries, such as passenger transportation and hospitality, as evidenced by the rise of companies like Uber and Airbnb. In this context, the emergence of energy storage is transformative, taking a system made for centralized power generation and one-way power flow and tapping unlimited potential for energy production and consumption on the network’s every node.
As energy providers work diligently to close the gap between existing capabilities and increasing customer expectations, a major challenge is meeting customers where they are - on mobile. Having different interfaces for billing, outage notifications, energy efficiency, demand management and call center inquiries creates a disjointed and complicated experience. How can energy providers capitalize on existing investments and programs while delivering consistent, simple interactions that today’s consumers have grown to expect?
Download the white paper to find out.
GTM Research estimates that the U.S. energy storage market could be a $2 billion market by 2020. Many states are examining or radically changing their net metering and energy policies, and smart installers are thinking about adding storage offerings to their portfolios. What’s missing is the roadmap to get there. Enphase has put together an easy-to-read guide that takes a look at the eight questions residential installers should be asking themselves in order to help their customers prepare to add energy storage to their PV and meet the growing demand for fully integrated energy management solutions.
Solar is following wind power by a few years in its meteoric path to volume, and has the opportunity to avoid the difficult early stage lessons that wind and nuclear industries had to experience the hard way. The methods and roadmap to reduce long term power plant risk is clear: test new technologies before deploying in volume, establish consistent industry standards for structural design, and utilize well established technical predictive tools to evaluate and account for long term maintenance costs. Failed companies and impaired project assets which act as a brake on industry growth can be easily prevented.
String inverters are becoming the most common style of inverter used with PV power systems ranging from 500kW to 20MW. The goal of good system designers is to construct systems that maximize overall performance, while keeping the inverters operating within their design limits. This paper is a very clear and easy explanation of the best ways to select string sizes as well as the optimum DC to AC ratios for the Sungrow string inverters. Understanding the relationship between the string voltage, MPPT operations within the inverter, and how to take advantage of the 110% “overload” capacity will help maximize both system performance and the return on investment for systems that properly employ Sungrow string inverters.
Security is more than just a regulatory-driven necessity for utilities; it has become a business imperative. Most utilities can no longer do business effectively or efficiently without internet of things (IoT) technology; and recent events in the Ukraine have shown that large-scale attacks against power grids can succeed. Beginning July 1, 2016, utilities must comply with NERC’s Critical Infrastructure Protection standard, v6, which features an expanded scope and emphasis on security, compared to previous NERC CIP regimes. Most U.S. utilities already enjoy a relatively high level of awareness and sophistication about cybersecurity, compared to other industries — but there are some common weak spots. To respond effectively to ever-shifting cyber threats and vulnerabilities, utilities must adopt a risk-based security approach that exceeds regulatory requirements. This paper recommends an integrated utility security program that encompasses physical and digital security technology, staffing and training, leadership support, cross-departmental collaboration and cross-sector coordination.