A Roadmap for Developing the Public Utility of the Future
Electric utilities throughout North America are in the midst of a period of rapid evolution as they cope with changing market dynamics. The industry has responded with changes to business and operational models that have collectively come to be known as the Utility of the Future (“UoF”), a generally broad term used to classify those utilities who harness new technologies and develop practices that reorient their business models to include objectives of efficiency and sustainability in addition to traditional utility goals. Implementation varies widely from case to case and business to business. Even at the current early stage, it is clear that UoF adopters are accruing first-mover benefits while those utilities that are clinging to increasingly outdated models may be disadvantaged in the new paradigm.
Herein, we provide a general road map for public utilities that are seeking to evolve their businesses to keep up with changes in the environments in which they operate. These guidelines could apply both to the implementation of organizational strategy or for program- or asset-specific initiatives. Our focus is on managerial decision-making and the creation of logical frameworks to develop effective strategies. Importantly, we view the process by which UoF capabilities are incorporated into the utility not as a linear process but as an ongoing, iterative cycle. The embrace of change may be a requisite for success, and as discussed, the transfer of knowledge from one iteration to the next will be critical to sustaining that success.