Insights from our Editorial Team
Deloitte: $$ drive new diligence
As utilities look for ways to engage their customers with new products and services, a new study from Deloitte suggests they may find an eager audience. But there is still a lot of customer education that will be needed to supplement these new offerings.
New U.S. policy elevates security issues
Cyber security headlines yesterday noted that the United States now considers cyber attacks the equivalent to an act of war. The electric utility industry should feel a similar urgency. After all, the first impact of a cyber attack will be service disruption, which impacts the bottom line.
How does your utility fit into the national picture?
"Customer engagement" is one of the electric utility industry's new mantras and we offer readers a chance to find out where their utilitty sits within the industry on this vital matter. Take a survey while remaining anonymous and we'll send you the results when it's completed.
Great strides and a few grand missteps
After all the hot air and hand-wringing over the U.S. government's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, where does the smart grid stand? Two executives gave a frank assessment during last week's ConnectivityWeek. In one perspective, it's how well the purpose of these projects is communicated.
Cost and benefit estimates range widely, invite questions
The Electric Power Research Institute has estimated aggregate smart grid costs over the next two decades as reaching somewhere between $340 and $480 billion, with benefits in the range of $1.3 trillion to $2 trillion. One reader suggests that those estimates may rely on an overblown sense of the annual cost of power outages, often cited in the $80 billion range.
Reader insights on consumer-related columns
Readers who are directly involved in electricity consumer-related issues lent their insights to a week's worth of columns focused on end-users. They identified threats and opportunities for utilities. There's real value here. Read this column!
Yet less than half of utilities are preparing their customers
In a new survey, utility executives say customer buy-in is critical to support for grid modernization efforts and costs, yet a fraction are currently involved in customer engagement. The survey paints a complex portrait and executives remain committed to their traditional priorities. But a sense of urgency in building customer support appears to be lacking.
Strong return on investment, but tough sell?
EPRI estimates of the cost-benefit ratio on smart grid to be 3x to 5x over the next 20 years. The investment of billions of dollars makes sense to commercial/industrial customers who understand the relationship of improved power quality and reliability to their bottom line. The value proposition to residential customers is more diffuse and long-term value propositions are notoriously difficult to sell to consumers. For data and the upshots from an EPRI conference call on these topics and more, read this column.
Transforming the energy ecosystem, one cross-cultural conversation at a time
An all-day consumer symposium yesterday at ConnectivityWeek brought industry stakeholders from across the board together to discuss hot-button consumer-facing topics, and took the first steps towards coming up with consumer-friendly solutions. Panelists didn`t just talk, they joined roundtable breakout sessions between panels, where each and every participant worked collaboratively to identify potential steps forward.
Younger users less informed, more willing to change
A new survey provides insight into the motivations that might drive a change in American energy consumption habits. At the top of the list: jobs and energy independence for economic and energy security. Way down the list: environmental concerns. Behind the motivations, the driver is the recession.