The past few months have been a busy time at West Monroe Partners, and throughout the energy industry. We’ve attended and spoken at a number of industry conferences and events, and have hosted several webinars on pressing market topics. These activities, along with our ongoing client engagements, allow us to keep our finger on the pulse of those issues that are top of mind for utility executives – oftentimes “keeping them up at night.” Across the industry, regardless of the size or geographical location of a specific utility, several key areas continue to be a high priority: IT integration and leveraging new technologies in a strategic way; regulatory constraints and opportunities, primarily at the state PUC level; and best practices in communicating new programs to customers and otherwise engaging external stakeholders.
In this issue, we’ve compiled a group of articles that address these high priority trends and areas of interest.
Cory Chaplin, director of our Technology Integration group, addresses the considerations that utilities will face in moving their applications to “the cloud.” Increasingly, we are seeing our utility clients investigate their options around the use of pooled, Internet-based servers, software and other IT resources as a way to leverage the very best technology at a fraction of the up-front cost required to build, install and manage alternative solutions on site. In his article, Cory examines the considerations that must be assessed when thinking about a move to “the cloud,” including security, data privacy, and access to internal systems.
Dave Tilson, director of our Customer Experience group, tackles the issue of how to enable and motivate utility consumers to be aware of and manage their energy consumption. We continue to hear from our clients that educating their customers about the new ways in which they will be interacting with their utility creates new challenges (and opportunities) that truly represent a sharp contrast from the standard practices of years past. In his article, Dave provides suggestions on some tactical steps that utilities can take to better understand their customers’ needs and enhance the overall experience of their customer interactions.
Will McNamara, who leads our Regulatory Support and Stakeholder Relations practice area, provides an abbreviated version of his recent whitepaper: “Regulatory Construct for Demand Response.” There’s little debate these days about the value that demand response can provide to help stabilize electricity peak prices, enhance grid reliability, and reduce the need to build costly generation, transmission, and distribution facilities. However, as Will addresses in his article, the full potential of demand response, particularly within state/retail markets, is often limited due to a set of regulatory barriers that utilities encounter when interacting with their state PUCs.
I hope you find the articles in this newsletter interesting and informative, and timely to what you may be experiencing at your utility. If you have any questions or comments on any of the articles, or suggestions about future topics you would be interested in reading about, please reach out directly to me or any of the authors.
Managing Director of the Energy and Utilities Practice