May 2016 | by Chuck Ross
The press has had much to say about the death spirals on the way for the electric-utility industry, thanks to the rapid proliferation of rooftop solar panels and other distributed-energy resources. The thought is customer-owned generation could upend current income streams and place unforeseen stress on local distribution systems that are not designed for a two-way electron flow. However, a recent survey indicates that utilities seem to be adjusting to these changes through incremental improvements in a manner that is more evolutionary than revolutionary.
Bridge Energy Group, the Marlborough, Mass.-based consulting firm behind the 2016 Bridge Index Utility Industry Survey, uses the phrase “grid modernization” to describe the emerging step-by-step modifications many of the surveyed utilities are undertaking—and more than half of the 20,000-plus respondents reported their utilities are developing modernization plans.
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