For this issue of our newsletter, we’ve compiled a group of articles that address industry trends and exiting new innovations.

This issue of “West News” highlights several new and exiting topics including demand response programs, customer energy management, community solar, field area networks, and other industry hot topics.

Dear Clients and Friends,

With summer in full swing, I wanted to take this time to share with you a few insightful articles from my colleagues.

West Monroe Partners’ senior principal, Jeff Smith and experienced consultant, Chris Timberg take a look at how electric utilities are evolving their demand response (DR) program design, rate design, and grid operations in the face of changing customer energy management technologies, customer generation (i.e. Solar PV) and regulatory expectations. Jeff and Chris outline some key trends leading the next generation of DR programs and Distributed Energy Resources (DER) management and explains what utilities are doing to embrace customer energy management.  Another key topic addressed is new rate design that will support a large deployment of DER and appropriately compensate the utility.

In the second article, manager, Paul Augustine explores the barriers and opportunities for community (shared) solar. The topic of community solar is at the forefront of discussion in the industry as the costs of solar photovoltaic energy systems continue to decline. Paul discusses the opportunity that community solar represents for utilities to reengage customers and to reduce the carbon intensity of the power they deliver.  The business case of community solar is very exciting and might provide a better opportunity for utilities to bring solar to more of its customers while also ensuring power quality. 

With the ever growing need for utilities to communicate with devices in the field, legacy networks are being replaced and upgraded to handle these challenges.  In the final article of this newsletter, senior manager, Ken Magrow discusses some specifics of the field area network (FAN) and migration from a legacy system to a new FAN. Ken explains the path to a successful FAN replacement and looks at ways to avoid the headaches along the way.

Lastly, we would like to share a white paper with you that our E&U team published in collaboration with our Customer Experience practice. The white paper examines “customer effort leaders” in electric, water, and gas utilities and explains the practices they currently follow to create a more effortless customer experience.

I hope you find this edition of our newsletter helpful and informative. We welcome your feedback, questions, and suggestions on topics that you would like us to cover in this forum.

Best regards,

Tom Hulsebosch
Managing Director - Energy & Utilities

On the one hand, self-generation from rooftop solar represents a direct threat to the traditional utility business model. On the other hand, increased renewable generation represents lower emissions exposure in a carbon-constrained world.