Are utility execs embracing data analytics?

Accenture has released its latest survey of utility executives. I’ve been looking at these surveys over the past 12 months and it’s increasingly becoming the norm for utility executives to confess that a range of disruptions and changes are occurring in the industry with energy efficiency measures, new demand response technologies, and distributed power generation leading the way.

But what struck me about the Accenture survey was how much execs were aware that data analytics would be critical to their future.

From the summary:

Nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of the executives said that, for their company, analytics solutions will be the highest priority smart grid investment in the coming years. Among North American executives surveyed, however, that number is even higher at 75 percent.

Further analysis by Accenture indicates that for a representative North American utility, an investment in smart grid analytics can result, conservatively, in an estimated $40 to $70 in savings per electric meter per year. The analysis shows that asset management analytics provide the greatest value, followed by grid operations analytics, revenue protection analytics and outage analytics.

According to Accenture’s survey, utility executives share a similar point of view: 96 percent of global respondents rank grid operations analytics and 92 percent rank asset management analytics as the two types of investments that will create the most value from smart grid analytic solutions.

So are utilities finally embracing IT? Most of the startups I speak with still say that it’s slow going with long trial periods with utilities in order to score a major sale. But at least execs are starting to see that the decision to invest in analytics, particularly for asset management and grid operations, is one that will pay dividends.