How smart are US utilities? One third have no smart plan, finds report


Smart Utility survey - automation, telecoms, smart cityThe high cost of implementing automation and data analytics technology is hindering the modernization of some utilities, finds a new report by US global consultancy Black & Veatch.

Although smart devices, enhanced telecom networks and data analytics are transforming the delivery of key utility services, a proportion of US utilities surveyed are restricted by cost concerns, said Martin Travers, president of Black & Veatch’s telecommunications business.

Mr Travers said: “We were surprised to find that more than a third of utilities report that they currently do not have plans to launch smart technology projects, primarily due to investment return pressures.”

Black & Veatch’s 2015 Strategic Directions: Smart Utility Report report surveyed more than 700 personnel from public-owned and private-owned utilities as well as cooperatives and independent power producers between 15 October 15 – November 14, 2014.

Smart utility, smart city

The report also looks at how utilities are tackling smart cities (with an estimated 40% of organizations serving populations of 2 million or more having announced a smart city initiative) through to telecom infrastructure, where nearly 60% of utilities surveyed plan to replace, upgrade or deploy new communications infrastructure in the next five years.

Travers comments: “The connection between smarter utilities and smart cities is clear.

“Utilities learn more about their operations. With that knowledge comes a greater understanding that they cannot plan their future without coordinating utility and municipal services. This transition reflects a major change in traditional operating models. However, it is critical to creating smart cities.”