Black & Veatch Report: Some Retiring Power Plants May Not Need to be Replaced | Black & Veatch

Black & Veatch Report: Some Retiring Power Plants May Not Need to be Replaced

Distributed generation and new technologies are improving energy efficiency, reducing need to replace generation capacity

WASHINGTON, D.C. (12 August 2014) – Black & Veatch’s 8th annual Strategic Directions: U.S. Electric Industry report shows that many retiring nuclear and coal power plants may not need to be replaced on a megawatt-to-megawatt basis. New technologies and distributed generation (DG), coupled with soft energy demand growth, enable utilities to replace retiring plants with ones that produce less energy.

“The influx of new technologies, new energy sources and new generation approaches, create immense challenges and opportunities for utilities.”

Dean Oskvig | president of Black & Veatch’s energy business

The Black & Veatch report found that the rise of DG in particular creates unique challenges for utilities. DG requires rapid changes to the power grid in order to integrate new assets and resources. Utilities must also be able to ramp up capacity to account for varying renewable energy output. Where DG reduces demand, utilities will have to revisit their current revenue structure in order to ensure continued reliable service.

“Every kilowatt that is now being produced by a third party or a consumer is a kilowatt not being sold by the utility.”

John Chevrette | president of Black & Veatch’s management consulting business

The report also found that concern for cyber and physical security is growing. Today, cyber security is among the top five industry issues, as ranked by utility survey participants. Cyber security did not make the industry top 10 list as recently as 2012. Based on data collected by industry professionals across the United States, the report tracks utility leaders’ views on a range of major issues. 

Some key findings include:

Half of the respondents stated their company is planning to replace retiring coal and nuclear power plants with gas generation. Natural gas will also be used as backup power for renewable generation.

Nearly 60 percent of utilities are updating emergency response plans in order to improve resiliency to weather and unanticipated events.

Utilities are working to provide consumers with resources to better manage energy consumption. Almost one-third of utility respondents stated their organization is offering Home Area Network solutions, such as smart thermostats, to support demand response programs.

More than 60 percent of utility leaders believe DG will grow beyond its current 5 percent market share of U.S. power generation by 2020. 

The full Black & Veatch report is available as a free download at

Editor’s Note:

  • Black & Veatch conducted its eighth annual U.S. electric industry study from 7 May – 27 May 2014. 576 qualified electric industry participants provided responses. Statistical significance testing was conducted and represented data have a 95 percent confidence level.
  • This year’s report features forecasts from Black & Veatch’s Mid-Year Energy Market Perspective along with insights from Indonesia, India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.
  • The Black & Veatch U.S. Electric Industry report is part of the company’s Strategic Directions series that includes in-depth analysis of the electric, water, natural gas and utility telecommunications industries.
  • Chevrette and Oskvig presented key findings from this year's report during a briefing at the U.S. Energy Association. 

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