Survey: what utilities worry about with renewable energy and smart grid

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Black & Veatch, a major engineering and construction firm, just released its annual survey of U.S. utility executives and the topics that could cost them a good night’s sleep. There’s a lot to worry about when you are responsible for reliably supplying power to your customers and following regulatory mandates.

I’m going to tease out some charts that address renewable energy and smart grid deployment. These two areas are relatively new for utilities to grapple with. Many states now have renewable energy requirements or at least goals that compel their utilities to buy more solar, wind and other types of renewable energy (see this table from the DSIRE national database). The idea of using advanced communication technology to collect more energy consumption data and manage their distribution networks more efficiently also have prompted many utilities to seek public money and approval to install smart meters and communication networks.

Here are some charts that highlight the challenges that utilities said they are facing. For the first chart only, Black & Veatch asked its respondents to rate the issues on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being least important and 5 being the opposite. The survey received replies from 607 respondents, 376 of them from companies that produce, transmit and sell power. Nearly 54 percent of them are from public utilities, while 33.3 percent are from investor-owned utilities. The rest is a blend of independent power producers and “others.”

Source: Black & Veatch, (N = 607)

Source: Black & Veatch, (N = 607)

Source: Black & Veatch, (N = 607)

Source: Black & Veatch, (N = 607)

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