Itron, Inc. today released its 2023 Resourcefulness Insight Report that explores the implications of the energy transition—the shift away from a reliance on fossil fuels and associated influx of distributed energy resources. The report, Powering the Energy Transition: Insights from Utilities and Commissioners on Creating the Future U.S. Grid, summarizes key findings from 250 U.S. utility executives and 10 state public utility commissioners on topics relating to the energy transition, including the challenges they see coming and how they expect to meet them.
"This year’s report underscores the pivotal moment we're at in shaping the future of the U.S. grid. By surveying commissioners and utility executives, the research offers a unique lens into the challenges and opportunities of the energy transition. What’s clear is that utilities are looking to address those challenges, and the study uncovers where they are on this journey,” said Marina Donovan, vice president of global marketing, ESG and public affairs at Itron. “We hope this report provides utilities and commissioners with valuable insights that will help them navigate today’s complex energy landscape.”
Published today at Itron Inspire 2023, the company’s premier customer-focused event, the reportreveals what both groups think about how the grid is changing—and the important work still to be done. The findings indicate that utilities and regulators embrace the transition—with nearly nine in 10 (88%) utility executives saying that the energy transition is extremely or very important and seven in 10 commissioners saying policies are supportive of the energy transition. According to the survey, 45% of utilities are actively implementing plans to address it, 49% are in the planning stages and the rest have not started planning. Additional key findings in the report show:
- Public demand is seen as the top driver of the energy transition for utilities at 37%, with cost savings (36%) and environmental concerns (34%) also at the top of the list.
- Utilities’ top technology priorities include infrastructure upgrades and grid modernization, ranking the highest at 48%, while developing renewable energy sources is right behind at 47%.
- 61% of utility executives believe current policies are supportive of transition initiatives, though 20% say they hinder progress.
The report also found that utility executives and commissioners have similar perspectives on the types of challenges that utilities will face as the grid transitions:
When asked about the most effective ways to overcome these barriers, utility executives say that investing in technology and infrastructure to integrate renewables is the top strategy for overcoming challenges and it’s also the top activity that they are engaged in today. The key technology priorities that utilities believe will enable the energy transition are infrastructure upgrades and grid modernization, developing renewable energy sources, and energy storage and managing intermittency. Over the next five years, utilities plan to invest the most in technologies to manage load monitoring, voltage management and solar.
Both utilities and commissioners agree that consumers will play an important role in the transition but are concerned that they will add complexity due to their diverse needs and varying acceptance levels of new technologies. According to utilities, there are four key ways that consumers can make a difference:
1. Greater understanding of the importance of sustainable energy.
2. Higher adoption of energy-efficient appliances and systems.
3. More participation in demand response programs.
4. Changes in daily consumption behavior to align with grid needs.
“Utilities have a critical role to play in accelerating the energy transition, and stakeholder education is an important part of that effort. By educating consumers, policymakers and regulators about clean energy, conservation and energy management programs, utilities can help overcome these challenges,” added Donovan. “As utilities start their energy transition journey, there are steps they can take to position themselves for success, including investing in an intelligent, responsive grid and taking advantage of funding opportunities like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Everyone has a role to play in addressing the energy transition. By working together, we can create a more sustainable energy future.”
To download a full copy of the Itron Resourcefulness Insight Report as well as the research, visit www.itron.com/rir.
The 2023 Resourcefulness Insight Report consolidates perceptions of U.S. utility executives and state public utility commissioners on topics relating to the energy transition. A total of 250 online surveys were completed by utility executives, and 10 interviews with state commissioners were conducted by the editors of Public Utilities Fortnightly in July and August of 2023. Utility executive respondents were mid-level managers or higher who have input on decision making for electric, gas, and water utilities in the United States. State utility Commissioners represent a cross-section of currently serving U.S. state Commissioners in a sampling of states representing all four census regions of the U.S.