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The New Year’s holiday is a time for resolutions, growth, and anticipation. It is the time of the year for not only reflecting, but also looking to the future. Let’s look at 4 trends we believe will propel utilities in 2019.

Let’s take a closer look at these four trends.

 

1: The rise of smart cities

In the past few years, the utility industry has seen tremendous growth in the implementation of smart meters and smart infrastructure solutions. This is a trend that is expected to expand even further in 2019.

However, it now is also time to start looking ahead to how these technologies are driving the rise of smart cities. In a recent report published about trends in the development of smart cities, Brooks Rainwater, senior executive and director of the Center for City Solutions wrote, “As the integration of smart city technologies becomes more visible in our everyday lives, we could begin to see larger scale changes in our cities.” These changes include adjustments to our roadways, street lights, communication, security, and more.

Read the full report here.

In order to see these changes, take place, a city must first have a technology infrastructure that is strong enough to act as the backbone supporting the necessary data, including smart metering and network infrastructure. Aclara provides the robust networks that can support not only advanced metering, but also the applications and analytics driving smart cities.

Learn more about the Aclara smart infrastructure solutions to help build smart cities here.

 

2: Growth in renewables

The fundamental drivers of renewable energy growth in 2018 are poised to continue this year, according to Deloitte’s 2019 Renewable Energy Industry Outlook report. However, the consulting company sees 3 additional trends that are likely to shape the growth of distributed energy resources (DERs).

The trends identified by the research group are:

  • New and renewed policies and initiatives at the local, state, and federal level likely to promote renewable growth. These policies will promote renewable technologies such as offshore wind growth, but also energy storage plans.
  • Expanding investment by smaller businesses, oil and gas companies, and asset management firms.
  • New digital applications, including solutions operating at the distribution level or behind the meter, to enable tasks such as peer-to-peer renewable energy trading, tracking the provenance of renewable energy certificates, or paying for electric vehicle charging through blockchain technology.

 

3: A deep dive into analytics

Analytics is a term widely used across the realm of utilities. When it comes to how analytics will play out in 2019, there are two major factors.

The first is how data analytics affects the consumers. Data analytics allows the consumers to have power over their own usage. They can see when anomalies of usage are happening in real-time. Spotting these abnormal usage patterns early on allows consumers to better track where their money is going.

Find out more about how Aclara puts the personal in consumer engagement.

The second is how data analytics affects the utility. Data analytics help utilities provide the most reliable and efficient service possible. When utilities are analyzing this data, they can help prevent problems such as outages before they happen.

“This type of technology provides immediate, real-time data capable of alerting network operators to potential problems on the network. It enables utilities, such as NV Energy, to stay one step ahead by being able to predict outages and locate major faults before they occur,” Ron Kirker, Senior Engineer, Distribution Planning, NV Energy said recently.

Predictive Grid® Analytics software helps utilities analyze data collected from the Aclara grid monitoring platform, which is being used by utilities such as NV Energy  and UKPN to monitor remote sections of the more than 12 million miles of the electric distribution network in the U.S, and Europe.

Download the white paper on Predictive Grid Analytics to learn more.

 

4: More acceptance of managed services

Managed services agreements, which involve outsourcing operations or asset ownership to a third party, will become more widespread in 2019.  These services first became began to take hold a few years ago as a way for utilities to operate their advanced metering infrastructure and smart-grid deployments.

Since then, managed services have begun to take hold in all aspects of utility operations, including software as a service (SaaS) offerings for energy management, analytics, and managing DERs. Another area where managed services has gained a foothold is in installation services for meters.

Traditionally, meter installation projects are low-tech affairs relying heavily of the skills of the project manager running the operation. These projects can benefit from the right software to simplify scheduling of workers, ensure smooth installation of the right products in the right locations, make communications with utilities smoother, and reduce installation delays and mistakes.

Aclara’s Smart Grid Solutions (SGS) ProField enterprise planning workforce and asset management software, for example, can synchronize with the utility’s own customer information service (CIS) databases to ensure that installers get the right meter type and voltage for each location. This type of integration between third parties and utilities is key to a successful, cost-effective, timely implementation.

As you ring in the New Year, start planning for a busy year in the utilities sector. These three trends are important, but the electric, gas, and water utility industries are constantly evolving.

To keep up with all the latest utility trends and more, subscribe to our blog.

 

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