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The electric sector is at a pivotal point and transformational change is underway. The future of the Next Generation Utility is heavily influenced by factors outside of the utility’s control, but for utilities navigating the future, managing uncertainty and creating the right strategies are within their control. The successful utility of the future will fully consider policy, regulatory, economic and technological uncertainty, and appropriately adapt its business model to the benefit of its stakeholders (customers, shareholders, politicians and regulators). PA’s Next Generation Utility series focuses on providing practical advice to help utility executives seek new opportunities, address challenges and plan for a sustainable and profitable future.

Microgrids are one of the most fiercely debated and dynamic topics of discussion in the energy industry today, and the extent of their eventual impact has yet to be determined. The Next Generation Utility faces a plethora of challenges, including keeping pace with rapid advancements in microgrid technology, changes in policy and regulation, and the evolution of the business model.


In our third Spotlight issue with Utility Dive, we explore lessons learned from the 1980s technology revolution and how they apply to energy today, the advantages of utilizing mission-focused capital to increase public and private sector collaboration around U.S Federal microgrids, the benefits of using PA’s proprietary FutureWorlds™ scenario planning framework to help utilities develop strategies for microgrids in the future, and the current challenges and opportunities utilities are facing with the development of microgrids in their territories.

Read our Microgrids insights

NGU 2017 e-book

Over the course of 2016 our Energy & Utilities team has been deeply immersed in all aspects of energy distribution, from research and analysis to working shoulder-to-shoulder with clients implementing projects, and sharing our insights and experiences with you all through our Next Generation Utility thought leadership series.

This e-book is a summary of the industry trends in 2016 and a look at what we can expect in 2017.

Next generation utility 2017 e-book

Early in 2017, Utility Dive, in association with PA Consulting Group, surveyed more than 600 electric utility professionals across the United States. The results indicate that utilities expect to source more power from renewables, distributed resources and natural gas in the coming years, while coal continues to decline.

The full State of the Electric Utility 2017 report contains a treasure trove of findings on electricity market reforms, power plant retirements, utility regulation, DER policy and more. It is a comprehensive look at the attitudes of sector professionals and includes analysis by region and utility business model types.

2017 State of the Electric Utility survey
2017 State of the Electric Utility survey

Utilities in the Age of Trump: The Electric Power Sector in 2017
The electric utility industry is in a state of flux. Pushed by consumer sentiment and economics, utilities are expected to continue adding renewable and distributed energy resources to their systems, and reshape their business models to cope.  But at the same time, President Trump has vowed to rescind Obama-era climate policies and revive the domestic coal industry.  What does it all mean for the electric power sector?

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The effect of Brexit on the GB energy market

The effect of Brexit on the GB energy market
Olaf Remmler and Ted Hopcroft, energy experts at PA Consulting Group, discuss the uncertainty of Brexit and its impact on the energy and utilities sector.

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Next Generation Electric Rate Design

Next Generation Electric Rate Design
This webinar explored major challenges in how US utilities ensure cost recovery and other trends driving the “new normal” of electric rate design across the United States.

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Preparing for a Distributed Energy Future

Preparing for a Distributed Energy Future
What can be done now, within the existing utility regulatory construct, to help integrate additional DERs in a cost-effective, reliable, and equitable manner?

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Puget Sound Energy: improving power restoration
Wales and West Utilities

View more energy case studies

Our reports

PA’s Next Generation Utility insights cover a wide range of energy topics – from FutureWorlds™ view of the energy business model of the future to DynamicEnergy™, the future of the electricity system – to provide you with practical guidance on becoming the Next Generation Utility. Read our latest insights here.

NGU 2017 e-book

Next generation utility 2017 e-book

Over the course of 2016 our Energy & Utilities team has been deeply immersed in all aspects of energy distribution, from research and analysis to working shoulder-to-shoulder with clients implementing projects, and sharing our insights and experiences with you all through our Next Generation Utility thought leadership series.

This e-book is a summary of the industry trends in 2016 and a look at what we can expect in 2017.

Download e-book

Battery energy storage: Unlocking grid-scale battery investments in Germany

Unlocking grid-scale battery investments in Germany

The grid-scale battery market in Germany has reached a pivotal point with high growth rates of more than 50% p.a. expected in the years to come. However, many new market participants are hesitant about investing because of a perceived uncertainty around the cost impact of future developments in technology and the sustainability of revenue streams.

PA has conducted technology and cost research, in cooperation with leading technology institutions, to develop comprehensive cost projections for the main battery technologies up to 2030. We have also utilised our in-house modelling suite to forecast prices and quantities of power needed from the main sources of revenue to determine the economic feasibility of battery projects. Both analyses show that the perceived risks can be mitigated by rigorous analysis and planning.

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Is your C-suite prepared for the (cyber) future?

Is your C-suite prepared for the (cyber) future?

The electric utility landscape managed by the C-Suite of the 21st century is shifting fast, which presents leaders with an array of changes, challenges and opportunities – managing cyber security effectively is of utmost importance.

The steady push towards a secure and DynamicEnergy™ system is bringing a broad range of new technologies that encourage on-site generation and two-way power flows. However, these increasingly interconnected approaches mean that the Next Generation Utility (NGU) will face a much wider range of cyber threats, and thus, it will be important for utilities to bolster their overall cyber risk posture and adopt new and broader risk management practices.

It is critical for the NGU C-Suites to recognize the changing nature of the cyber security landscape under their domain and ensure that they have right defenses in place, effective governance and performance metrics, supported by a flexible and effective enterprise oversight program.

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The Nimble Utility: Creating the next generation workforce

Creating the next generation workforce

Disruptive technologies and other transformative developments mean that growth opportunities are quickly emerging in every area of the market. Unfortunately, most utilities are stuck playing catch‑up. They are focused on issues of aging infrastructure, adopting interactive communication technologies, and attending to other asset-based activities.

In their resolute pursuit of technological improvements, utilities are missing out on a huge part of capitalizing on market opportunities: their people. Utilities must develop a more adept and agile workforce—one that not only maintains their company’s traditional piece of the pie, but also sets the table for a whole new menu of opportunities available in the transforming market. This is not going to be easy. Recent market trends indicate utilities face a real workforce challenge.

PA's new report shows that utilities will need to become nimble: they will need to align their operating model with their workforce capability model so they can continuously capture the right people with the right skills at the right moment, to unleash their talents.

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Delivering the Next Generation Utility customer experience

Delivering the customer experience of the future

Technology is driving change in the utility sector faster today than it has since the advent of the industry more than a century ago. For utility customers – ranging from the largest corporations to individual households – new technologies are offering different ways to interact with their utility, from paying a bill to sourcing generation.

Many utilities have only just begun to transform the customer experience. However, a growing number of utilities no longer see their customers simply as ratepayers attached to a meter, but rather, as individuals with an array of preferences. In order to maintain their role as a trusted energy advisor, it will be necessary for utilities to gain a deeper understanding of customer preferences.

Our new report discusses a horizontal approach to each customer class – commercial, small business, municipal or residential – that requires an ongoing transformation, rather than a one-time pivot in business practices. By embarking on this transformation today, utilities will be well-positioned to increase their value to customers and shareholders.

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Regulatory foresight and the Next Generation Utility

Regulatory foresight and the next generation utility

Enhancing value amidst policy and technological uncertainty

The utility market and regulatory landscape is shifting, bringing new challenges and opportunities. It is still being decided how utilities will be compensated in a future that is increasingly composed of distributed energy resources and more active participation of customers and third parties. However, regulators are increasingly pushing forward market and regulatory reforms in support of these outcomes, which aim to more equitably balance shareholder and customer value.

Our latest report shows that regulatory foresight should be viewed as a strategy to embrace the future, thinking outside the box, and engage with regulators, customers and third-parties in new ways.

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Innovation and the Next Generation Utility: Embracing the new energy ecosystem

Innovation and the Next Generation Utility

Faced with rapidly-evolving markets and incentives, electric utilities today have an unprecedented opportunity to develop new, innovative ways of structuring their businesses.

In this paper, we explain how utilities will be better positioned to participate in the Dynamic Energy system if they focus on three key competencies: Business Model Innovation, Technology Innovation, and Cultural Innovation.

The benefits of taking this three-pronged approach to innovation are clear. Doing nothing will lead to further declines in revenue and a loss of market share to thirdparty energy providers. Developing an innovation strategy – either company-wide or within specific teams – means opening up entirely new business lines and service models that will enhance the utility’s reputation and grow earnings.

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How wearable technologies can help utilities keep the lights on

Wearable Technology report

Wearable technologies have huge potential to enhance the capabilities of the Next Generation Utility’s workforce, both in the field and in the office. They will allow workers to access a vast amount of information to help them do their jobs better, faster, more safely and at reduced cost. The impact of wearable technologies will be felt in four key areas: customer, efficiency, reliability and safety.

In this report, we take you through the trends that are driving utilities to adapt and transform to a digital world. It also outlines how each key area will benefit.

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Utility analytics: improving service, reducing cost and increasing reliability

Utility Analytics report

Utility analytics can unlock the power of data by coordinating various forms of information across organisational departments, applications and databases. It is clear there are real benefits to be gained from analytics, but for utilities to maximise the advantage, they need to take a holistic approach that manages, analyses and visualises data across their organisation. This will allow them to understand which solutions will create the most value in the long term.

PA’s Utility Analytics Rapid Assessment and Deployment Methodology provides a proven approach to assessing, prioritising and effectively managing the development of utility analytics.

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Energy storage and the Next Generation Utility – a strategy guide for the future

Energy Storage and the Next Generation Utility report

Throughout the world, energy storage technologies are at a turning point. They are becoming more flexible, efficient and capable of reliably delivering energy to consumers as needed. They are also playing a pivotal role in the growth of renewable energy and distributed energy resources. If power utilities are to take advantage of this trend, they will require a cross-functional and well-defined enterprise strategy.

Our report examines all the major aspects of a utility’s storage deployment lifecycle, highlighting critical future impacts and suggested strategies across four functional utility groups.

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Leading-Edge Technology Evolution

Leading Edge technology evolution: DynamicEnergy report

The future of the electricity system - DynamicEnergy™

Unlike almost every other major development in the electric industry over the past 100 years, today’s changes are not coming from the top down, but rather from the bottom up – or perhaps from the edges in. For the electric grid, the edge consists of customers – the residential, commercial and industrial ‘accounts’, ‘loads’ or ‘ratepayers’ – who now have the opportunity to reduce costs and meet sustainability goals, participate in power markets and create more transparent and customised relationships with their energy providers.

In this report, we delve into this dynamic set of developments and suggest a new way of looking at the future of the electricity system – a paradigm we call DynamicEnergy™. This is an energy environment in which two-way transactions become the new normal.

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What will the Next Generation Utility look like in the next decade?

Next Generation Utility FutureWorlds Report

Around the world, the electric utilities industry is talking about how a number of factors will impact traditional business models for energy suppliers and network operators. These include low carbon, renewables, commodity prices, distributed energy resources, smart grid, customer engagement, shareholder value and workforce transformation. Despite the vast array of opinions, insights and information on the topic of the Next Generation Utility, there is still no clear answer as to what the business model will be or should look like in the next decade.

FutureWorlds™ helps businesses to remove the natural bias of probable futures, introduces the consideration of all possible futures and tackles uncertainties head-on to arrive at a view of a preferred future.

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Peter Siggins

Peter Siggins,
PA energy expert

Email | LinkedIn


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