2019 was a pivotal year in Corporate Social Responsibility as the concepts of corporate responsibility and sustainability received significant media attention, and the trends that I identified last year at this time (better dialogue, more learning, more disaster prevention, greater equity and the growing importance of Generation Z-ers) remained timely and relevant. Still, 2020 promises to bring more challenges and opportunities to the field, and leaders should pay attention to these developing global trends in Corporate Social Responsibility:
Utilities need to be forward-thinking while also offering shareholders value
When it comes to grid modernization, where utilities want to spend money — and where they have approval to spend money — are not the same thing. Under today’s regulatory models, utilities typically do not have a way to recapture all the fixed costs required for critical upgrades. This can mean the choice between keeping the lights on today and preparing the grid for the challenges of the future.
Facing increased risk by hackers, utilities are ramping up cybersecurity
For power suppliers wanting to be vigilant about the threat that hackers pose to the grid, a March 2019 intrusion may have been a benign warning about vulnerability. When hackers disabled a Utah-based renewable energy developer’s control system for about a dozen solar and wind farms in the West, the grid’s operators were left blinded for more than 10 hours to those 500 megawatts of generation sites. Thankfully, no outages resulted.
With greater technological dependency comes greater responsibiilty
As climate change continues to flex its catastrophic muscle, a storm is brewing for U.S. utilities. The scourge of extreme weather events — prolonged droughts, pounding hurricanes and deluges blamed for unprecedented flooding — are joining wildfires as challenges that have utilities scrambling to harden their assets to provide the resilience that consumers and regulators demand. Unrelenting threats of cyberattacks and the rising number of technologies that increase the load and strain on infrastructure assets add to the complexity.
The lure of 5G is strong, but implementing at scale will require extensive collaboration
There’s no doubt that the lure of 5G digitalization is strong. This wave of next-generation connectivity is expected to usher in exciting new opportunities such as wide-scale adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), along with all its innovative new technologies that promise to change how we live, work and play.
Private Networks Promise Utilities Giant Step Towards Reliability
Reliable communications networks are crucial to allow utilities to deliver an uninterrupted supply of power to customers. With high-speed wireless technology at the fore, and the addition of hundreds of new field applications that require communications networks — including Long-Term Evolution (LTE) — a digital utility is built on communications that extend to the edge. Converged networks employing IP-advanced private wireless networks enable these systems to become more efficient and extend deeper into the distribution system, where they’re most needed.
Are utilities keeping up with the proliferation of distributed devices?
Millions of devices are measuring and sometimes controlling the health of our utility networks, and millions more are coming. As distributed resources drive rapid, increasing demand for data-intensive grid management to ensure high-quality, reliable and resilient power delivery, ask yourself this question: How are you keeping up?
Utilities are doubling down on distribution investments to boost resilience
Power sector players got a jolt in January 2019 when Virginia utility regulators rejected the $6 billion grid modernization rate case proposed by Dominion Energy. This “no” followed similar decisions in Kentucky and North Carolina from the previous year. Despite such setbacks, results from Black & Veatch’s 2020 Strategic Directions: Smart Utilities Report survey show that utilities are “all in” on grid modernization plans, and it looks like regulators are moving that way, too.
New Black & Veatch Smart Utilities Report analyzes major trends reshaping the grid
Distribution modernization is inevitable as advances in energy production, storage and control give rise to a new energy marketplace happening at the local distribution level. This evolving landscape leaves utilities questioning how they can maintain the reliability, efficiency and security of their operations, while managing two-way power flows and the influx of digital devices and distributed energy resources (DER).
Shared challenges and solutions across critical infrastructure show industries have more in common than they think
OVERLAND PARK, Kan., December 17 2019 /3BL Media/– Their customers are varied and their business models distinct. But leaders in seemingly separate markets -- from power and water utilities to commercial and industrial companies – have more in common than they think, in a time when customers are demanding clean resources, cost-efficient delivery and, above all else, reliability.