Navigant and Public Utilities Fortnightly discussed the future of the industry with four utility executives during the EEI Annual Convention
In collaboration with Public Utilities Fortnightly (PUF), Jan Vrins, managing director of Navigant’s global Energy practice, sat down with Steve Mitnick, editor of PUF, to interview four utility industry executives during the EEI Annual Convention in San Diego and discuss the pace of change and disruption in the industry.
These four experts — Brian Bird, CFO of NorthWestern Energy, Frank Prager, VP of Policy and Strategy at Xcel Energy, Mike Deggendorf, CEO of Grid Assurance, and Jim Laurito, EVP of Business Development at Fortis — answered PUF and Navigant’s questions, covering a range of topics including the electrification of everything, steel for fuel, future of gas, new business and regulation models, innovation, and black swans.
According to Vrins, with the increased customer demand for alternate energy products and resilient and clean energy resources, as well as technological advances in energy, artificial intelligence, big data, and much more, technology is having a large impact on the utility industry.
“It’s making our power grid smarter, with more data available to utilities and their customers,” wrote Vrins. “Our grid now must be able to manage intermittent renewables and distributed-energy resources, and utilities are the integrators (and orchestrators), delivering more value to their customers, making it all work and optimizing every single part of it, to keep the overall cost down.”
In turn, this technological transformation will forever change energy markets, regulations, and business models, creating new challenges and opportunities for utilities.
“The future is here, our industry has changed forever,” said Vrins.