As distributed power generation increases and renewable energy comes online, it’s been apparent to most everyone watching the utilities that their business models are going to have to change. Whether that means they have to embrace IT services and accept that they may have a bigger role in distribution and transmission than they do in generation is open to debate.
But a new survey from PwC of utility executives concludes that 94 percent believe that by 2030 the industry would undergo important changes or a complete transformation. And while most utility execs don’t believe that decentralized generation will dominate the mix, 82 percent of North American executives said that we’re looking at a future mix of large scale centralized generation and decentralized generation. In terms of the shifts that will have the largest impact on the industry, energy efficiency measures came up number 1 with the declining price of solar a close second. The least impactful technologies were off shore wind and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).
It’s interesting to see utilities fight net metering programs and rooftop solar even as the executives realize that the industry is undergoing a transformation. What’s clear to me is that the utilities’ monopoly on generation is starting to be disrupted even as utilities are having to embrace new technologies and roles like demand side power management, which is itself largely fueled by the growth of renewables.