New report highlights strategic directions for smart utilities


Black & Veatch has published a new report which explores the role of data and advanced communication technologies in helping utilities to optimise the efficiency of grid networks.

The study comprises responses from more than 625 utility stakeholders around their grid modernisation strategies in North America.

Factors driving grid modernisation include:

  • Improved reliability – As indicated by two-thirds of respondents.
  • Operational efficiency – 43%.
  • Ageing infrastructure 43%.
  • Increased monitoring, control and automation – 39%.

Factors hindering utility investments in grid modernisation include:

  • Budget constraints – as indicated by 54% of survey participants.
  • Managing competing priorities – 38%.
  • Lack of resources and expertise – 35%.

Other key study findings include:

  • Ageing infrastructure, the increasing penetration of distributed energy resources and climate change continue to test grid resilience.
  • Data and analytics are increasingly critical to delivering the grid of the future.
  • Advances in technology are enabling both risk and rewards for utilities.
  • Utilities are striving to move forward due to outdated regulatory and business models.
  • One-third of utilities have plans to invest more than $200 million in grid modernisation over the next three years.
  • 84% of utilities plan implement active cybersecurity monitoring.
  • Integrated systems planning will continue to gain in importance, with 80% of respondents viewing the integration of its planning functions as “very or extremely important.”
  • One in five respondents currently monitor and control – but do not own – third-party-owned DER. 39% only monitor while 24% are in the planning stages.
  • OT, IT/communications and security departments are the top three teams to lead distribution automation efforts.

John Janchar, president of Black & Veatch’s telecommunications business, said: “Fully integrated communications infrastructure will be critical to support utilities’ smart grid initiatives.

“This means not only upgrading the operational assets — the poles, wires and distribution switches — but also upgrading the communications networks that connect and enable these systems to work together.”

The report is available for free download here.