The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has published a whitepaper highlighting current top-priority sustainability issues for the energy industry.
According to EPRI, understanding what issues are a priority in designing and implementing sustainability strategies and initiatives help utilities to address both industry and stakeholder concerns and interest. The whitepaper is an update of the initial research conducted in 2013.
The study, Priority Sustainability Issues for the North American Electric Power Industry: Results of Research with Electric Power Companies and Stakeholders in the United States and Canada, identified 20 economic, environmental and social priority sustainability issues for the electric power industry in North America.
The priorities include air emissions, assets and operations, business model, climate change, customer relations, energy reliability and resiliency, energy affordability, cyber and physical security, waste, water and workforce diversity.
Since 2013, one issue has been removed, 12 issues have evolved and 8 issues have been newly identified.
Utilities' sustainability priorities
Amongst the 303 energy companies interviewed, 60% said air emissions, assets and operations, business model, customer relations, cyber and physical security, energy affordability, energy reliability and resilience and health issues are their top priorities.
EPRI found 50% of energy providers as good or excellent in addressing air emissions, assets and operations, cyber and physical security, energy affordability, energy reliability and resiliency and safety and health. One third of energy providers said the prioritisation of business models, cyber and physical security and greenhouse gas emissions will increase significantly over the next three to five years.
However, differences in stakeholder perspectives and issue prioritisation are due to missions and drivers of the entities.
The top three issues with the widest gaps in stakeholder perspectives are customer relations, energy affordability and safety and health.
78% of utilities identified customer relations as a top priority whilst 35% of other stakeholders are concerned about the issue. 67% of industry respondents are concerned about energy affordability against 38% for other stakeholders, while 89% of energy stakeholders identified safety and health as a priority against 61 for other stakeholders.
You can download the full report here
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