July 2012 - Energy & Utilities Newsletter
A Message from West Monroe Partners
Date : July 31, 2012
Last month, Craig Miller from MRECA, revealed the six top areas of concern regarding smart grid deployments from utilities based on a survey NRECA conducted with utilities across the United States.  This newsletter has four articles that address components of these topics.

Throughout this year, we have been able to attend a number of energy and utility related conferences and events across the country. By participating in these events and talking to various contacts at utilities, I’ve noticed some strong trends that seem to be common among most companies that are beginning or in the midst of smart grid planning and deployment.  While at the Municipal Smart Grid Summit this past June, Craig Miller from NRECA, revealed the six top areas of concern regarding smart grid deployments from utilities based on a survey NRECA conducted with utilities across the United States.  These are:

  • Customer Acceptance
  • IT Data Complexity and Integration
  • Telecommunications
  • Interoperability
  • Cyber Security
  • Uncertainty of Return on Investment

In this newsletter we have four articles that address components of these six topics. 

Will McNamara, leader of our Regulatory and Key Stakeholder practice, explores the very controversial topic of smart meter opt-out programs.  This article explores impacts to the business case, different types of opt-out programs, and a sample of opt-out programs being deployed by utilities in the U.S. Please click here to access this article.

Mike Wayman, director of our Transformational AMI Programs, along with Mike Patelski explore the use of tools to help automate many of the key processes associated with smart grid PMO.  This article addresses the challenges that many program managers face including: schedule consolidation/coordination, data integration from different tools, sharing information across projects, and automation of workflow.  West Monroe has combined its experience along with Microsoft’s Enterprise Project Management suite of tools to create WMProgram, which addresses these challenges.  We believe a proactive PMO can de-risk a smart grid business case.  West Monroe uses WMProgram to ensure that smart grid programs are on schedule, on budget, and are delivering the benefits outlined in the business case.  Please click here to learn more about WMProgram.

Dan Belmont, director of our Energy & Utilities Telecom practice, discusses the role of telecommunications in smart grid and the options that utilities should consider as they explore their resource options. Telecommunications is not considered a core function by many electric and water utilities, but it is a critical enabler of the two-way flow of information synonymous with smart electric and water systems.  Please click here to access Dan’s article on Smart Utility Telecommunications and Network Managed Services.

Scott Fuzer, leader of West Monroe’s Software Asset Management practice, along with John McNally, and myself discuss how smart grid systems along with enhanced asset management solutions and business processes can extend the life of distribution system assets and reduce operating expenses through predictive maintenance. Please click here to access the article on Opportunities in Asset Management.

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.

Best regards,

Tom Hulsebosch
Managing Director of the Energy and Utilities Practice
Email: thulsebosch@westmonroepartners.com
Telephone: 312-980-9320

The concept of “opting out” from Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) refers to those utility customers who choose not, or outright refuse, to receive a wireless, two-way communication- enabling smart meter from their incumbent utility.
With today’s evolving Utilities, the demands of Smart Grid, Smart Utility Services and communications have caused the sheer number of devices in the utility network to increase exponentially.
For many utilities, asset management has become unwieldy. Often, each asset category has its own system; for larger utilities, this could mean 15 to 25 independent systems, databases, and spreadsheets for capturing asset information.
Many program management offices (PMOs) dedicate significant amounts of time to gathering, organizing, and formatting data from multiple project teams in order to track progress and generate status reports for program stakeholders. These activities, however, should not be a PMOs core focus.
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