Three opportunities for the energy utility market of the future

Published: June 30, 2015 by Guest Contributor

Soaring in the solar energy utility market

By: Mike Horrocks and Rod Everson

The summer is a great time of the year – it kicks off summer and the time to enjoy the sunshine and explore! It is also for me the recognition that days now are only getting shorter and makes me think about my year goals and am I going to hit them. In this spirit of kicking off summer, I thought I would talk about three opportunities that the utility vertical could and should take advantage of.

1. The future of Solar Photovoltaics (PV) is just getting brighter

A recent study called out an expected 25 percent jump in Solar PV installs over the previous year. This is jump is just another in a long line of solar install records. While the overall cost of these installs has dropped, one must ask whether the accessibility is there for everyone. The answer is not yet. A potential opportunity may come in the form of community solar as an advantage over rooftop solar. This scenario involves a utility installing an array of PV cells and then carving out a specific cell for an individual residential customer for lease, crediting his or her bill at a percentage of the cost.

2. Generations are bringing change

Just as spring gives way to summer, summer will give way to fall. The same is true in the utility markets on many fronts. At a larger infrastructure scale, utilities have to think about the kind of plants and capital investments they want to make. Another report indicated that 60,000 megawatts of coal energy is going to be retired over the next four years. This obviously will change the capital decision making functions in the industry. At a more personal level, however, there are changes in the consumers and their behaviors as well. Are those changes being accounted for in your organization? Is the next generation of consumers and the products and services it will demand being formulated in your strategy? How will you identify those consumers and secure them as customers?  For example, while electrical energy consumption has been decreasing, what would be the impact if there was a revolution in battery technology? What if charging an electric automobile battery became as fast as filling a tank of gas? What if the battery gave you the same mileage range as a tank of gas and did it at a lower cost per mile? Would electric usage spike?

3. Blackouts happen; be prepared

The best-laid plans sometimes still cannot account for those acts of God that cause disruptions to the grid. Blackouts happen, and if you don’t have flashlights with new batteries, you will be left in the dark. The same uncertainty is inevitable in the utility vertical. In the 2015 PwC Power and Utility Survey, 3 percent of the respondents said that there would be minor disruptions in business models, with the rest saying the disruptions would range from moderate to very disruptive. In fact, more than 47 percent of respondents said the changes would be very disruptive. What kind of flashlight-and-fresh-batteries strategy will you employ when the lights go out? Are your decision strategies and risk-management practices based on outdated solutions or approaches?

Consider whether your business can take advantage of these situations. If you’re not sure, let’s set aside some time to discuss it, and I can share with you how Experian has helped others. There are still many sunny days ahead, but act now before the seasons change and you and your strategies are left out in the cold.

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