Utility Industry Trends: Taking Stock & Reflecting

Utility Industry Trends: Taking Stock & Reflecting

The 3rd annual NY Energy Revolution Summit in New York City, was well attended and insightful. Speakers and panelists were dominated by utility executives and industry professionals sharing their respective experience in meeting the requirements of an industry in transition. While challenges remain to create a robust and customer-centric distribution system operator platform, progress discussed at the conference is encouraging. Utility pilot projects are meeting with success and utilities are planning to scale some of the more successful and promising projects to foster greater interoperability of the grid and improve system operations and resiliency. Such projects, once scaled, promise increased customer benefits and potentially lower overall system costs.

Several themes emerged from the conference:

  1. A shared sense of accomplishment. While realizing the vision of a customer-centric and dynamic-grid with large penetrations of distributed energy resources remains years away, progress is promising.
  2. Link between market and business models. Many regulatory practices and rules, and market behaviors need to adapt to a new, platform-based business model.
  3. Evolving vision of future. Recognizing that such a “new business model” does not yet exist, it might be time to evaluate where we are and what has been accomplished to reaffirm the future-state vision of what might be reasonably achieved.

Discussions in conference sessions, and during breaks, indicated the vision of REVolution driving change today will need to pivot to address challenges emerging as implementation progresses. Notwithstanding this view, the consensus was:

  1. The path is never easy, but the stakes have never been higher. Once embarking on an endeavor of this scale and magnitude (NY REV), there can be no turning back.
  2. Change can stop short, but the utility ecosystem will never be as it once was.
  3. Just as it is difficult to un-educate someone, it is equally difficult to reverse the innovations occurring in the utility industry today. It would be comparable to going from smart phones today to wall-mounted rotary phones.

Overall, there were several key takeaways, including:

  1. The joint utilities will continue to work with the New York PSC to further the specifics of their Distributed System Implementation Plan (DSIP) but many determinants remain to be made that are critical to the overall business model/funding mechanism.
  2. The general public must continue to be “brought along” in the process and engaged in relevant conversations on how this future electric system will impact them.

Investments must continue to be made in new technologies and controls to enable a distributed system. Under the new administration, Federal funding will likely not be available so private investment will be necessary for a successful distributed system platform.

Like you, West Monroe is eager to be a part of the transformation that is happening in New York and in other states. We look forward to contributing to the progress that will be made when we see each other at the 4th Annual NY Energy REVolution Summit!

Phone: 312-602-4000
Email: marketing@westmonroepartners.com
222 W. Adams
Chicago, IL 60606
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