It is time for manufacturers to help the utility industry align with cutting edge technology, including innovations in animal and avian protection, fire and grid hardening, energy creation, and operational efficiencies. Analog systems featuring third-party distributed grid technology put utility companies at risk for fire safety, system stability, and revenue growth. While big utilities are facing many risks, the three biggest concerns of infrastructure, workforce, and regulations are—soon will be—addressed by every utility to retain profitability and market share.
Updating Grid Infrastructure
Power and utility companies understand the need to move from one-way power-flow to a two-way power flow model. The controversy comes in how quickly this movement needs to happen. Consumers are driving new industry models with solar panels, wind, battery, and water energy sources. Batteries are also being used to store energy more efficiently; all of which leads to less dependency on major utilities.
And even though consumers are becoming increasingly less reliant on big utilities for their energy sources, the companies themselves are still responsible for maintaining the grid and providing energy at affordable and competitive prices. To do this, they need to find the right partners to harden the grid, reduce risk of fire, integrate smart grid technology with their current systems, and reduce operational costs.
According to a June 2019 story in Yahoo! Finance, one of the most significant challenges facing the utility industry is its aging workforce. Recent studies by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Labor show that nearly 50 percent of utility workers in the U.S are expected to retire within the next five to 10 years.
Couple that with the gradual decline in workers to replace this retiring workforce, and projects in the industry becoming bigger and more complex, analysts anticipate we will soon have a tremendous need for talent with specialized knowledge in engineering and allied fields. Those with the interest, understanding of the field, and core training will come in high demand, which often means higher salaries. The U.S. Department of Energy Quadrennial Energy Review predicts the utility and electric power industry will have a gap nearing 80,000 qualified industry workers to work on the smart grid, smart cities, and other projects by 2030.
Law makers are hitting utility companies with new regulations aimed at addressing fire and grid hardening, linemen safety, among a barrage other issues needed to meet newer, greener, cleaner standards of energy distribution, particularly in California and the Pacific Northwest. This demand for clean and renewable energy sources is creating tremendous competition for big utilities, which means less revenue; but that doesn’t negate their responsibilities in maintaining their current systems.
The billions of dollars invested in today’s one-way power flow infrastructures still have many years, if not decades, of life expectancy and there is no clear way in which the big utility companies can recoup the money put into them without passing that cost on to consumers. However, regulators have made it clear that passing these costs to the consumer will not be tolerated. Power and utility companies need to get creative; they need to find a way to feasibly sunset, or retire, existing plants over time while meeting regulations, improving safety standards, and satisfying stakeholder profitability demands.
The Solution for Big Utilities
Innovation is the name of the game. Power and utility companies can benefit from the expertise of third-party manufacturer reps, like Pacific Power Reps, that maintain their own team of engineers and sales experts. These industry experts have a large-scale view of cutting-edge innovation. They understand the ins and outs of the industry and they have the relationships and the creativity to plug these innovative solutions into today’s top utility industry issues. Thinking differently and applying new strategies will keep utility companies relevant and competitive in today’s market.
Pacific Power Reps tailors solutions to meet the high-demand needs for fire hardening, grid hardening, lineman safety, and operational excellence. Utilities who wish to stay top of the game, and manufacturers with products that can help utilities remain top of the game, win when PPR’s team of experts is on the job.
To learn more, call 1-888-600-4874 to schedule a consultation.
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About Pacific Power Reps
PPR is a power and utility industry sales rep firm serving the west coast including California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.