Even as we enter the “dog days of summer,” work in our industry, and in the Energy & Utilities (E&U) practice at West Monroe Partners, remains quite active. We continue to work closely with our IOU, municipal and electric cooperative clients as they develop new initiatives, plan and deploy smart grid programs, investigate new telecommunications infrastructure, and navigate through emerging regulatory policies that create new challenges. Part of the suite of services that we provide to our clients is tracking developments that are taking place in the E&U sector to ensure strategic knowledge of issues that will have an impact on their business.
For this issue of our newsletter, we’ve compiled a group of articles that address industry trends, consistent with what we have heard from our clients. The featured articles include the following:
- Dan Belmont, director of our E&U telecommunications offering, has been closely following activities around the decommissioning of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) well before the end of the decade. In his article, Dan summarizes a recent survey that West Monroe conducted with utilities of all sizes and the initiatives they are taking to replacing analog circuits.
- Jeff Smith is a principal consultant is actively involved in sustainability issues and the strategic challenges that utilities face in the efforts to interconnect and operate distributed solar technologies. Jeff identifies impacts associated with the Obama administration’s recently unveiled Climate Action Plan. The Plan has called for an additional 100 megawatts (MW) of distributed renewables to be installed on federally subsidized housing stock by the end of the decade. This is driving nearly all states to investigate the approval process for DG resources. This policy change is impacting U.S. distribution grid operations, creating a host of new administrative and technical challenges, which Jeff examines in his article.
- In a related article, David South, lead of West Monroe’s sustainability practice, addresses the Sustainability Reporting Framework that has been launched by the Global Reporting Initiative. This framework is being used widely by public and private organizations around the world. It enables organizations to measure and report on the four pillars of sustainability performance: economic, environmental, social, and governance. This framework could become a key component of how the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan will be measured going forward.
- John McNally, who leads our efforts in E&U client development, provides a point of view on evolutionary changes occurring within IT Departments. As the nature of applications become more distributed, the focus of IT activities is changing from traditional networking and coding and support, to interoperability. This transition is essentially redefining required IT skill sets into three broad categories. The evolutionary change is creating new challenges for utilities in utilizing the existing workforce, and in locating and retaining qualified newly required IT workers. This changing IT environment is an operational dynamic that is just beginning to emerge, but one that could have a huge impact on utilities in the years to come. Read about the anticipated change.
I hope you find the articles in this newsletter interesting and informative. If you have any questions or comments on any of the articles please feel free to follow-up with me or any of the West Monroe contacts identified in the articles.
Managing Director Energy and Utilities Practice
West Monroe Partners
Much of the network, like a lot of our grid infrastructure, has not changed fundamentally since electron switching systems were introduced around 1965. With the proliferation of internet protocol (IP) communications carrying data and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) over wire, fiber, and cellular networks, the reliance on traditional land lines is vanishing quickly.
Recent market and regulatory drivers are significantly increasing the interest in and volume of distributed generation (DG) systems being installed at residential and commercial customers’ premises.
GRI pioneered and developed a comprehensive Sustainability Reporting Framework used widely around the world. The Framework enables organizations, both private and public, to measure and report their economic, environmental, social, and governance performance – the four pillars of sustainability.
Two years ago Jason Hiner, the editor in chief of TechRepublic, published an editorial predicting that “the IT profession and the IT job market are in the midst of seismic changes that are going to shift the focus to three types of jobs.”