From data integration and program planning to full-on project management, utilities and industries will continue to grapple with fundamental shifts as they work to unlock the potential of a truly integrated organization. With “business as usual” no longer an option, leadership will have to work hard to overcome the traditional organizational and market hurdles that prevent innovation, strategy and action.
Let’s face it: The old days were much simpler, when the flow of power from the utility to end-user was, for the most part, a straight line. There were challenges, but there wasn’t much getting in the way between baseload power generation and the light switch.
Ask anyone who’s been in the utility world for a while, and they’ll assuredly tell you: most utilities have operated in silos, separate groups focused squarely on their own little corner of the business. The silo mentality thrives when members of one department don’t share information with other departments, operate with separate goals, use different tools, and follow different processes than those folks across the hall.
When it comes to grid modernization, where utilities want to spend money — and where they have approval to spend money — are not the same thing. Under today’s regulatory models, utilities typically do not have a way to recapture all the fixed costs required for critical upgrades. This can mean the choice between keeping the lights on today and preparing the grid for the challenges of the future.
As climate change continues to flex its catastrophic muscle, a storm is brewing for U.S. utilities. The scourge of extreme weather events — prolonged droughts, pounding hurricanes and deluges blamed for unprecedented flooding — are joining wildfires as challenges that have utilities scrambling to harden their assets to provide the resilience that consumers and regulators demand. Unrelenting threats of cyberattacks and the rising number of technologies that increase the load and strain on infrastructure assets add to the complexity.
Millions of devices are measuring and sometimes controlling the health of our utility networks, and millions more are coming. As distributed resources drive rapid, increasing demand for data-intensive grid management to ensure high- quality, reliable and resilient power delivery, ask yourself this question: How are you keeping up?
Power sector players got a jolt in January 2019 when Virginia utility regulators rejected the $6 billion grid modernization rate case proposed by Dominion Energy. This “no” followed similar decisions in Kentucky and North Carolina from the previous year. Despite such setbacks, results from Black & Veatch’s 2020 Strategic Directions: Smart Utilities Report survey show that utilities are “all in” on grid modernization plans, and it looks like regulators are moving that way, too.
Distribution modernization is inevitable as advances in energy production, storage and control give rise to a new energy marketplace happening at the local distribution level. This evolving landscape leaves utilities questioning how they can maintain the reliability, efficiency and security of their operations, while managing two-way power flows and the influx of digital devices and distributed energy resources (DER).
The 2020 Strategic Directions: Smart Utilities Report explores the issues and complexities of the changing utility landscape. Based on expansive industry data collected through our annual survey of electric, water, and natural gas utilities, this year’s report looks beyond individual efforts to take a more holistic view of what it means to deliver the promised grid of the future.
Black & Veatch is proud to release its first 2020 Strategic Directions: Megatrends report, which analyzes years of survey data to explore and illuminate some of the most striking and consistent trends across the water, power, telecommunications, natural gas, commercial and industrial (C&I) and manufacturing industries.
The landscape of telecommunications options available to support utilities’ OT solutions is rapidly evolving - at a pace compared only by the changing needs of the OT requirements themselves. The movement towards 5G and even greater use of LTE is imminent. But how to take advantage of this evolution is less certain.
The more you can spend to achieve successful outcomes, the greater the likelihood of success. Since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, no F1 team other than Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes has won grand prix. The ‘big three’s’ spending power consistently outstrips the rest of the pack. During the 2018 season, won by Mercedes – with Ferrari second and Red Bull third – the big three spent more money than the other seven teams combined.
In an effort to explore some of the factors reshaping business, Black & Veatch recently polled hundreds of professionals in the commercial and industrial sector to identify emerging trends in resource use with a focus on sustainability, capital spending and energy and water management trends within their organizations.
Creating a grid master plan is the first step in the evolution of a more intelligent grid. In this new perspective piece by Black & Veatch Management Consulting Managing Director, Rick Schmidt explores such topics as smart utility migration, infrastructure modernization, technology adoption lifecycle and introduces our 8-stage master planning methodology. The desired goal of the master planning activity is to provide a documented path that provides a roadmap for current focus and future investments.
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