Business leaders are said to be the fundamental drivers of success but not always is the job easy. Here are a few insights into effective decision-making that keeps the utility leaders going.
FREMONT, CA: The utility industry welcomes new possibilities with digital revolution marching towards it. With the increased demand to stay competitive and level up their game, discovering and rediscovering solutions to incurring challenges seem critical. Here are a few approaches that help CIOs address utility problems.
To meet the present difficulties, utility CIOs are looking within themselves to scope for enhancement. Focusing on short-term objectives is a significant cultural challenge facing most power companies. Many businesses deeply immerse themselves in money-saving strategies, such as budget cuts and compromise on quality, but overlook the general long-term effect of those tactics. Furthermore, executives in one department have no awareness of another department's procurement, generating future conflicts. For better outcomes, companies need to move from a tactical perspective to a strategic view of acquisition and activities, as well as a company-based structure.
Balancing the Demand for DER
As more small-scale generation comes online, it becomes hard to handle the grid to prevent fluctuations in frequency, to keep voltage levels, and to prevent masking both load and fault. CIOs prefer Distributed Energy Resources (DER) for their clients to overcome this challenge. Customers' demand for DER, combined with public legislation and incentives, is pressing utilities to modify the electrical infrastructure's standard model. Utilities must be able to adapt technically and financially to this evolving landscape. In addition to the technical factors, utilities will also need to modify their business model to account for income changes as homes and communities generate their own electricity.
Grid Investments for Modernization
CIOs are taking hard measures to invest with the novel techniques in modernizing the grid. Investment plans of utilities to upgrade their grids need to focus not only on eliminating capacity limitations but also on embracing new technologies. The future grid must manage bidirectional energy flows, integrate intelligent meters, and capture and report significant amounts of information. Grid investment plans will, therefore, need to integrate a broad range of new techniques such as sophisticated inverters, grid management and dispatch instruments, and energy storage facilities at the grid level.
Eyeing on Customer Expectations
Customers rarely had cause to communicate with a utility in the "traditional" customer-utility relationship unless there was a service issue or billing issue. There was little urgency for utilities to concentrate on or spend in customer experience due to the absence of options. But while solutions to power generation were developing, distributors, financial services and other sectors were busy raising the bar on customer experience and altering expectations and requests. In terms of customer service apps, technology has dramatically altered what clients expect.
Predictive Analytics for Quicker Responses
To better respond to client requirements, power utilities need to work on analyzing information. Furthermore, this is essential to ensure that energy is not over-generated or under-generated. They need to switch to a "pull" approach rather than a "push." Cases from Texas wind farms and renewable energy sources in Germany are classic over-production examples, making utility firms pay customers (adverse prices) for energy use. Power utility businesses can operate with blockchain technology trade contracts.
Shifting towards a Decentralized Model
Moreover, electricity generation is moving towards a decentralized model with non-conventional sources such as solar panels on the rooftop. Network modeling of distribution networks, therefore, plays a crucial role in meeting scattered customer demand. Tools such as SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) are effective in knowing the circumstances of the load feeder. This strategy can be beneficial in giving authority to the last person from the lens of a developing or third-world country. Efforts such as the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reform Program (R-APDRP) promote the use of technology to improve efficiency and reduce technical and commercial aggregate losses (AT&C).
The industry's most pressing challenge today is the aging workforce combined with a decrease in talent available. According to the sources, in the next five to 10 years, as much as 50 percent of the utility workforce of the nation will retire. CIOs realize that many utilities need extra assistance to operate on new investment projects and that these projects are becoming increasingly complicated. This need is especially acute with engineering and construction, where the supply of talent is significantly reduced, and most high-tech firms have done a great job of hiring and developing top STEM talent.
Ensuring Safety and Security
Security has become a concern for CIOs in every business. Creating a plan that identifies risks and problems in the project as soon as possible is essential to execute resolution or mitigation alternatives to decrease the potential for change. The service provider should also have experience in evaluating the risk factors of the project to guarantee a secure atmosphere, protect against cyber threats, and decrease hazards. This plan should also include the health and safety program of a supplier, one that aligns with the vision and safety culture of the client, as well as an action plan for security infringement that aligns with most present norms.
Knowledge Sharing with Mentoring
One way to address the challenge of knowledge transfer is through the establishment of a phased retirement mentorship program. Organizations need to define retirement-near staff and develop programs for high-performance proactively, high-knowledge staff to slowly decrease their working hours to retirement. Many retirees are interested in keeping part-time schedules and wages as they move into a new stage of life, and employees of the next generation utilities can benefit from being shadowed and coached by industry specialists.
Agility and Innovation
New technologies and business models are sure to evolve continually, representing quantum leaps, not just continuous but exponential changes. To face a quickly evolving and mainly unpredictable future, utilities will need unprecedented agility and innovation. The only way to decrease uncertainty and danger is to adopt and shape the future aggressively rather than resist it. The most effective utility for electrical distribution is the one that creates revolutionary change, not the one that ignores it, much less resists it.
It is anticipated that the utility company will have high service requirements. Therefore, for emergency cases, a large quantity of non-moving and slow-moving inventory is held stand-by, involving a large sum of capital. Also, owing to the expiry of their shelf life or primary machine substitution, a lot of time and inventory is being written-off with new technological developments. Through provider cooperation, the notion of "just-in-time" inventory will assist in preventing long-term inventory holding costs. Furthermore, periodic and thorough monitoring of critical devices through predictive maintenance is also a way to keep the faults at bay, avoiding preventive actions.
Eyeing on Natural Disasters
Natural disasters and a changing climate are the most significant challenges facing utilities today. Weather is an uncontrollable factor that at a quicker rate creates extensive harm than man's strength, and economy can solve. The authorities move into action to mitigate harm and clean up debris when a natural disaster hits. But authorities across the country are becoming increasingly aware of the significance of early integration of IT organizations into disaster response planning. CIOs have become more engaged in discovering resources for disaster response and managing a lot of critical information offering insights into people and infrastructure.
Many of the systems that utilities associate with cloud today, revolve around smart grid attempts and techniques of the next generation, such as meter data management, big data analytics, distribution automation, and network management. The future of utilities stands on modernization and agility, marking the advent of versatile apps that tackle changing business processes, optimize current business models, and guarantee long term success.