Utility Industry Challenges Part 1: New Technologies and Customer Choice are Driving Changes

Emilie Bolduc

This is the first in a series of blogs addressing the challenges faced by utilities today and the opportunities these challenges open to them.

The utility industry is more complex than it’s ever been before. Various trends over the past few years are driving change, introducing new competitive forces and increasing the level of complexity that utilities and their customers need to navigate. Five trends that we have identified are contributing to this increasingly complex industry:


Renewables and distributed energy resources are dramatically impacting the way utilities do business. Consumer decisions are also being influenced by technologies that provide data-driven insights, from web based analytics to smart thermostats, such as the popular Nest thermostat, and remote energy management apps available on smart phones.


Utilities are facing mounting pressure from all sides. Year-over-year electricity sales are flat and there is increasing pressure from regulators and consumers to add clean power to their fundamental charter, which is further complicated by cheap natural gas prices. Regulators continue to push energy savings targets for utilities. In fact, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), 24 states have specific energy savings targets that utilities must meet.


Energy management, from energy efficiency to distributed generation, is increasingly cost-effective and becoming more important for a new generation of customers who desire simple ways to reduce their energy consumption and costs.


Renewable resources are becoming more cost-effective and will become an increasingly important aspect of a utility’s resource plan, eventually offering them as a viable option for their customers. This has recently become more important with the introduction of the Clean Power Plan, which, by 2030, is expected to cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels.


Utilities are beginning to see competition for the first time, with deregulation and distributed generation providing consumers with more options for their power than ever before. For utilities, this puts a growing focus on the relationships they have with their customers.

Ecova understands the complex utility industry and the requirements of our clients to balance customers’ growing energy needs with energy efficiency programs. In order for utilities to achieve their savings goals and increase customer loyalty, they need targeted, simple, personalized and cost effective programs that deliver value and make it easy for their customers to conserve energy. Ecova assists utilities in creating impactful residential and commercial & industrial programs that increase customer satisfaction while providing utilities with verifiable savings to meet goals and manage regulatory, reputational and operational risks.

The next blog in this series will address the need for stronger customer engagement and satisfaction.

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