With the emergence of alternative energy resources; a regulatory shift toward reliability and resiliency; and the influx of nontraditional players offering customized products, services, and experiences, a new industry reality has become apparent.
A new industry reality
Fundamentally, not a lot has changed since Edison first began generating and supplying electric power to fewer than 100 customers in lower Manhattan in 1882. Electricity continues to be generated in centralized power plants, moves along high-voltage transmission systems, and comes off the grid at distribution substations, which deliver it to local homes and businesses. Aside from pricing, there has been little room for consumer choice or provider innovation. That’s all changing. With the emergence of alternative energy resources, a regulatory shift toward reliability and resiliency, and the influx of nontraditional players offering customized products, services, and experiences, a new industry reality has become apparent.
A next-generation power network
In previous reports, we suggested that, at the center of this new model, would be a transformed “utility of the future”—a Network Integrator. This transformation has been well underway worldwide from an infrastructure and operations perspective for more than a decade.
A confluence of disruptive forces is driving the evolution of electricity distribution companies from a reactive focus on relevance and survival toward a proactive effort to add value to customers and spur growth. Among the greatest disruptors are advancements in, and the deployment and utilization of, new information and operational technologies, among them real-time data provided by the Internet of Things, the improved insights and automation produced through artificial intelligence, and centralized efficiencies offered by blockchain.
In this developing scenario, the Network Integrator does not merely distribute electricity as a commodity, but enables the hub of a tailored ecosystem of energy products and services, synchronizing the efforts and activities of various stakeholders. As they solidify their infrastructure and restructure operations, distribution companies can move toward selling—or enabling others to sell—differentiated products. Establishing a tangible, next-generation energy market adds value and grows revenue, even if load continues to decrease.