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The Next Generation Vision of the Future

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Megatrends are driven by technological and demographic changes. They are immutable. Identifying and understanding the megatrends in T&D offer insight into the industry and strategies for the future.

In 2012, I proposed five of these immutable megatrends in the booming electric transmission and distribution industry in a popular white paper, “Identifying Megatrends Shaping the T&D Industry.”  I accurately predicted that grid modernization, storage, maximizing the use of transmission rights-of-way, distributed energy resources, and operational efficiency would be hallmarks of the next generation electric utility…and, today, they are. But, do younger engineers and operators with a 20-25 year career horizon agree with these megatrends?.....or not?”

The electric utility industry in 2020 is changing rapidly as it faces emerging technologies with changing business models and increasing customer expectations that energy be sustainable in its production, transmission and distribution. 

But, what about the next generation of men and women that needs to deploy and use the technology, respond to new business models and meet customer demands?  This will be a the focus of an upcoming panel I’m moderating on The Next Generation Vision of the Future, featuring engineers with 10-15 years of industry experience sharing their vision of the future of the grid.  How will the technology be implemented and accepted?  Can electric utilities compete for and retain customers if the regulatory business model changes?   The panel will specifically address the technology of artificial intelligence, the business model of a distributed system (platform) operator with no end-use customer connection, and their opinions on working with big social media (data) companies to retain a retail customer relationship as long as possible.  It will be a long term perspective from people engaged in the front lines today. I plan to return to this space on Energy Central to provide an update with the lessons learned from this exciting panel.     

In late 2018, I wrote a redux on T&D Megatrends https://www.tdworld.com/utility-business/article/20971888/td-megatrends-redux. The redux called out artificial intelligence, strategic undergrounding, augmented and virtual reality, mobile and stationary storage allowing more solar and microgrids.  Will the next generation panel agree? 

As we said in 2012, megatrends are driven by demographics and technology, and they are immutable. Megatrends will define the future of our industry.  The panel will define this future at their utility.  

Are you and your utility preparing for this future?  

Mike Beehler's picture

Thank Mike for the Post!

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Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 27, 2020 4:20 pm GMT

Mike-- I always love looking back at past predictions and seeing how true they were, so it's great to see you do that with your own predictions (and being accountability to them is even more enjoyable when you were right!). On a high level, do you think the ability to see what's on the horizion in coming years for utilities is getting easier or more difficult than it was even just a decade ago?

Mike Beehler's picture
Mike Beehler on Jan 30, 2020 11:01 pm GMT

My Next Generation Vision of the Future panel included National Grid, Dominion, NextEra Energy, Entergy and Oncor.  Average career horizon was 25-30 years....a unique perspective to be sure.  Consensus was...study and understand the emerging technologies and be aware of the historical and regulatory context for your public or private utility and the age of the existing grid assets that are currently funding your company. But, understand that the business models are changing and be ready to adapt and change.  Thanks.  Mike

Dave Bryant's picture
Dave Bryant on Feb 13, 2020 5:55 pm GMT

Great post, Mike. I'd love to hear what our next generation thinks about the importance of grid efficiency (using high-performance conductors like ACCC) and how reducing line losses serves to reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions. Cheers

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