Agility is a buzzword beloved of consultants and business management handbooks. But does what agility mean for utilities? How fast can they truly respond to changes in technology and the need to keep pace with consumers’ expectations?
Based on stories we have covered this week, it seems that an energy company can bring about real change within 20 years. Is that agile? By the standards of the telecommunications industry, it certainly isn’t. But considering the volume of legacy infrastructure managed by an average utility and the expense of major network upgrading, perhaps this period of time is realistic.
At Itron Utility Week held in Los Angeles this week, a panel discussion addressed the question - ‘What will the utility business model look like in 2025?’ A California-based gas utility executive said - ‘not much different’. The utility isn’t a dinosaur - it is conducting R&D into natural gas-fuelled cars and how to manage that load, but this change will come in 20 years, not 10, he said.
In another story this week, we report on an Australian utility that has given the proverbial finger to the current rhetoric promoting IT/OT convergence. Not for us, says AusNet. Instead of converging, we are actively segregating our networks.
And updates to its SCADA and critical grid infrastructure? We need to look at a 20-year time frame, said the chief information security officer.
And there we have the challenge - the push and pull effect of consumers demanding agility and the utility needing time to be agile.
More from Metering & Smart Energy International
In Canada, energy cyber security company N-Dimension has completed a pilot project for the evaluation and commercialisation of technology for smart grid field applications such as smart meters.
In the UK, global machine-to-machine company Telit Communications on Monday engaged in a GBP142 million contract as one of the technology providers for the GB Smart Metering Implementation Programme.
Energy management company Landis+Gyr has said that multiple tests run by the company in Switzerland have established that G3 PLC is ready for use in smart metering.
In West Africa, Nigerian distribution company Ikeja Electric has confirmed this week that it has begun the rollout of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) using wireless communication technology.
In Zambia, water utility Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company has issued a tender for the supply and delivery of water meters. Owned by local authorities, Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company services water and sanitation for over 46,000 consumers in the Mufulira, Chingola and Chililabombewe area of the Copperbelt province in Zambia.