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Electric Utilities Adopt New Technologies, Use Old Business Processes

The electric utility industry’s adoption of new technologies such as smart metering is faster than its adoption of new business processes. That combination means some of the expensive technology utilities are buying isn’t meeting the expected ROI-at least for now.

“A lot of companies are using this stuff, but they’re still doing things the old way,” said Forrest Small, vice president of grid reliability at Bridge Energy Group, a systems integration consulting firm for utilities.

The company released in April its 2015 Utility Industry Survey on outage restoration management. More than 20,000 North American utility employees participated in the survey, 54 percent of whom worked for investor-owned utilities at the time. The other respondents worked for cooperatives (20 percent) and municipal utilities (26 percent). Nearly half of respondents worked in distribution (45 percent), 33 percent cited transmission and 21 percent cited generation.

Small said North American electric utilities are investing in new technologies, but they’re playing catch up with the business processes and slowly adjusting accordingly.

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