Welcome Dinesh Rajan, New Expert in the Digital Utility Group- [an Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Expert Interview]
- Aug 10, 2021 11:58 am GMT
Technology is moving the utility industry to places that had never before been imagined, creating the new world of the ‘Digital Utility.’ Members of this Digital Utility Group know quite well that transformation is happening, but if you blink it seems you might miss the new type of intelligent technology that’s empowering utility providers to tap into a new market, offer a new function to their customers, or otherwise improve their pursuit of affordable, reliable, and clean energy.
In that constant push for the next best technology, the experts at Wipro are bringing their thought leadership to the table to push these innovations to the cutting edge, and we’re fortunate to be able to welcome Dinesh Rajan—Partner, Wipro Limited—as a part of the Digital Utility Community’s Network of Experts . Dinesh brings with him deep experience in sustainable efforts of utilities, customer engagement, smart grid technologies, utility management considerations, and so much more.
But don’t take my word for it, let’s hear how Dinesh has gained this vast experience and what insights he’ll be able to bring to the Energy Central Community as he participates in our Energy Central Power Perspective ‘Welcome New Expert Interview Series.’
Matt Chester: We’re thrilled to welcome you as a part of Energy Central’s Network of Experts. To share with our audience what makes you an expert and what you’ll be able to contribute as a part of this role, can you share a brief overview of your background and experience in the utility sector?
Dinesh Rajan: I have been associated with the utility sector for over two decades now and have been fortunate to be a part of several utility transformations that include unbundling, smart metering, grid modernization, digitalization, and democratization. Primarily I have worked as a strategy and technology consultant to the industry. My on-the-job experience involves immersing myself into the daily life of the utility worker. These experiences include spending a day riding the truck with asset inspectors, being an observer for smart metering installs, reviewing contact center recordings, and collecting solar interconnection details from customers. My current focus is on grid modernization, and the new energy marketplace. While the majority of my time has been spent in the electric utilities space, I have had significant engagements in the gas, dual-fuel and water utilities segment too.
MC: Smart grid technology has been a buzz word for many years at this point, and the technology behind it has improved what was originally possible. In terms of today, how would you define what a smart grid can do and are there new capabilities you’re anticipating will come along in the coming years?
DR: The smart grid is a foundational necessity to enable the new energy marketplace and drive energy democratization. With reducing costs of communication devices and services, it is easier to modernize the grid with a wide variety of interconnected smart devices. This in turn provides large volumes of data and precise control capabilities within a bi-directional network. I anticipate utilities having a significant focus on applying data for automated decision making, to operate the grid reliably and safely. Electric Vehicles and Distributed Energy Resources continue to grow in number, and we are seeing a shift in the utility’s response to these. In the past the utility supported or catered to demands for interconnection and export tariffs. In the future, I see utilities using their Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) and Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) to actively leverage and exploit these resources to manage local constraints and deliver non-wire alternatives for network expansion.
MC: You’ve been involved with grid modernization during periods of utility deregulation. What were some of the unexpected lessons you learned during that process?
DR: In a global context, I see the next stage of deregulation shifting from the classical unbundling of regulated utilities, towards the separation of asset management and operations businesses. In this context, the Distribution System Operator (DSO) and Transmission System Operator (TSO) entities are taking shape. One of the lessons learnt is that when creating a DSO entity it is very important to spend time identifying the business value streams, understand the role of and engage all participating stakeholders, and create a well-defined and realistic journey to get there.
Another lesson learnt at the intersection of grid modernization and deregulation is the need for utilities to actively innovate and create unregulated services and business entities that leverage the technology stack the smart grid has to offer. We are already seeing non-utility entrants in the market such as energy service aggregators, and the field remains quite open.
MC: If you had 5 minutes with all the utility CEOs in the industry and you could convince them of one piece of advice or important consideration, what would it be?
DR: The pandemic and recent extreme weather events have reinforced the fact that the utility industry is an essential service provider, and our customers heavily rely upon us. For the next few years, the industry will be expected to focus on reliability, security, safety, and reduced cost to serve. Post that we will see focus return to customer choice, digital experience, premium services and increased democratization. I would ask utility CEOs to consider investments in technology related to interconnected devices, edge computing, analytics, automation, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), in a way that they can successfully transition to meet these changing expectations. These are the same technologies that can help meet both sets of goals.
MC: Can you share what your fellow Energy Central Community Members can expect to get from you being one of our experts? How do you hope to add value to this vibrant community?
DR: This is a great community and I am excited to be a part of the learning and sharing ecosystem. I am happy to share my experience relevant to any new transformation, community members are planning to undertake. I can provide insights on market direction and advice on business strategy, technology strategy, value streams and organizational structure. I also have experience across utility billing, enterprise mobility, sustainability, and regulatory processes and am open to discuss these topics.
Thanks to Dinesh Rajan for joining me for this interview and for providing a wealth of insights an expertise to the Energy Central Community. You can trust that Dinesh will be available for you to reach out and connect, ask questions, and more as an Energy Central member, so be sure to make him feel welcome when you see him across the platform.
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