The global engineering, procurement and construction leader's survey of nearly 900 North American leaders in the industry - the most comprehensive sampling by Black & Veatch for its more than decade-long electric report - offers deep perspective about a power sector in need of repowering itself in an increasingly complex, multifaceted and evolving energy ecosystem.
The surge of renewable energy from solar, wind and battery storage - and growing penetration of microgrids and other distributed energy resources (DERs) - has empowered consumers, testing utilities' business models. "New energy" is driving a global movement dedicated to clean energy technology and innovation. In many cases pushed by decarbonization goals, electric vehicles and electrified fleets continue to proliferate, pressuring power providers globally to accommodate charging demand. Swirling above it all are persistent regulatory questions and decades-old concerns about reliability, aging infrastructure, and long-term investment.
"In these evolving times of the electric industry, there's no one-size-fits-all dynamic," said Mario Azar, president of Black & Veatch's power business. "What's going to be crucial is for power providers to not only have a balanced generation mix with diverse fuel sources, but to invest in distributed generation, transmission and distribution as these systems no longer operate in isolation in the world's shifting power market."
In the report, which Azar writes "captures the diverse challenges facing organization leaders and the solutions they're finding," nearly half of the respondents - 46 percent - said alternative "behind-the-meter" energy supply options by customers or third parties threaten their utility business model if regulators preclude market flexibility. Forty-three percent say the threat could come from a utility's failure to deploy its own alternative energy solutions.
"New energy continues to disrupt the electric industry as consumers, in the pursuit of energy independence, increasingly migrate toward cleaner, greener forms of power," said John Chevrette, president of Black & Veatch's management consulting business. "Now more than ever, utilities must recognize and embrace these challenges, rethink their business models and start planning for necessary upgrades."
Black & Veatch is an employee-owned, global leader in building critical human infrastructure in Energy, Water, Telecommunications and Government Services. Since 1915, we have helped our clients improve the lives of people in over 100 countries through management consulting, engineering, construction, operations, and program management. Our revenues in 2018 were US$3.5 billion. Follow us on www.bv.com and in social media.