Itron, a pioneering company in the field of energy and water management for utilities and cities, has unveiled its highly-anticipated 2023 Resourcefulness Insight Report.
This comprehensive report delves into the ramifications of the ongoing energy transition, which entails a shift away from fossil fuels and the concurrent proliferation of distributed energy resources.
Titled “Powering the Energy Transition: Insights from Utilities and Commissioners on Creating the Future U.S. Grid,” the report encapsulates the perspectives of 250 U.S. utility executives and 10 state public utility commissioners.
“This year’s report underscores the pivotal moment we’re at in shaping the future of the U.S. grid. By surveying commissioners and utility executives, the research offers a unique lens into the challenges and opportunities of the energy transition,” Marina Donovan, Vice President of Global Marketing, ESG, and Public Affairs at Itron, said.
The report was officially released at Itron Inspire 2023, Itron’s premier customer-focused event, and it sheds light on the changing landscape of the U.S. grid, as well as the tasks that lie ahead.
Key findings from the report reveal a significant level of support for the energy transition among utilities and regulators. An impressive 88 percent of utility executives view the energy transition as extremely or very important, while seven in ten commissioners see their policies as supportive of the transition.
The report details the varying stages of preparedness among utilities, with 45 percent actively implementing transition plans, 49 percent in the planning stages, and the remaining yet to begin planning.
Public demand emerged as the primary driver for the energy transition, with 37 percent of utilities indicating it as such. Cost savings (36 percent) and environmental concerns (34 percent) were also high on the list.
Infrastructure upgrades and grid modernization topped the list of technology priorities for utilities, with 48 percent focusing on these aspects. Developing renewable energy sources closely followed at 47 percent. Interestingly, 61 percent of utility executives believe that current policies are supportive of transition initiatives, but 20 percent view them as hindrances to progress.
The report highlighted common challenges faced by utilities and commissioners in the transition process. Commissioners emphasized affordability and economics, infrastructure siting, and interconnection and transmission issues, while utilities identified infrastructure upgrades, grid modernization, the regulatory approval process, and a lack of funding for upfront investment as significant hurdles.
Both utility executives and commissioners concur that investing in technology and infrastructure to integrate renewables is a pivotal strategy for overcoming these challenges. Among the key technology priorities are infrastructure upgrades and grid modernization, developing renewable energy sources, energy storage, and managing intermittency. Over the next five years, utilities are planning substantial investments in technologies for load monitoring, voltage management, and solar integration.
Both parties also agreed on the essential role of consumers in the energy transition, though concerns exist regarding their diverse needs and varying levels of acceptance for new technologies.
Utilities have identified four key ways consumers can contribute:
#1 Greater understanding of the importance of sustainable energy.
#2 Higher adoption of energy-efficient appliances and systems.
#3 Increased participation in demand response programs.
#4 Changes in daily consumption behavior to align with grid needs.
Itron’s 2023 Resourcefulness Insight Report provides a comprehensive look at the current state of the U.S. energy transition, offering valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for utilities and regulators as they shape the grid of the future.