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December 06, 2012

'Prophecy': Outage Prevention and Response Will Be Top Utility Concern in 2013



Following two power outages that affected a cumulative 10.5 million Americans within the past 12 months—some of whom endured more than two weeks in the dark—energy industry pundits are predicting  that the number-priority for electric utilities during 2013 will be enhancing and reinforcing their infrastructure to provide better outage prevention, readiness, and response.

As Homer Simpson would say, “D’oh…” Although it doesn’t take a brain trust to issue that particular prognostication, we all probably would agree with the analysts from Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC (News - Alert) Energy Insights who made it their top forecast out of ten for 2013.

After all, the June 29 line of hurricane-force winds—called a derecho—was one of the most destructive and deadly fast-moving thunderstorm complexes in North American history, knocking out power to nearly four million people in Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina, Kentucky, and metropolitan Washington, DC. Coming in its wake on October 29 and 30, Hurricane Sandy, also called the Frankenstorm, left about 6.5 million customers without power in 15 eastern states and the District of Columbia.

“In 2013, North American utilities will need to beef up lagging revenues to cover infrastructure investments in a climate where customer satisfaction is declining and reliability is threatened by cyber attacks and extreme weather," said Jill Feblowitz, vice president, IDC Energy Insights. "At the same time, utilities that have invested in smart meters and smart grid technology will move to the next phase, investing more time and dollars in outage response, security, business efficiency, and customer engagement."

Overall, the analysts also saw a spike in sales for distribution control systems, home energy management systems, and smart building technology. .”

The full list of the researchers’ Top 10 Predictions for 2013 is posted below:

  • Prediction 1 - Utilities will make outage prevention, readiness, and response a top priority in 2013.
  • Prediction 2 - Smart electric meter shipments will fall below nine million units in 2013.
  • Prediction 3 - In the next five years, consumer spending will transform home energy management.
  • Prediction 4 - By 2017, 70 percent of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems will integrate into distribution control systems.
  • Prediction 5 - In 2013, utility incentives will drive a $160 million market in smart building technologies, ensuring that energy efficiency is here to stay.
  • Prediction 6 - Utilities have breathing room to plan, as plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) penetration next year moves more slowly than previously expected.
  • Prediction 7 - Utility information officers’ security practices in 2013 and beyond will center on risk management.
  • Prediction 8 – CIOs' agenda for 2013 will focus on bringing business efficiencies through IT initiatives.
  • Prediction 9 - In 2013, marketing and customer operations will increase efforts in the social business space.
  • Prediction 10 - North American IT spending will grow at a 4.92-percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the five years from 2010 to 2015.

Feblowitz added, "Enabling technologies ripe for investment include analytics, mobility, and social business, while in anticipation of higher energy prices, residential customers will warm to home energy management and business owners and operators will seek education on smart buildings."

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Edited by Brooke Neuman

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