Jan 31, 2014

Survey Finds Global Utility Industry at a Technology Tipping Point

Ninety-four percent of utility industry executives see need for industry to be transformed

Itron Inc. Resourcefulness Index Global Utility Industry

Itron Inc. released the first-ever “Itron Resourcefulness Index,” a global survey of the state of the utility industry. The survey finds the industry at a critical tipping point, with 94% of utility executives believing the industry needs to be transformed and 80% of consumers dissatisfied with the current amount of information they are receiving from their utility. The findings highlight the need for utilities to do more to achieve operational efficiencies and to take a more active role in educating consumers about energy and water use.

 Itron surveyed more than 600 utility executives and 800 consumers across 14 countries to measure perceptions on issues critical to the operation of gas, water and electric utilities. The objective was to understand the views of consumers and utility executives on current challenges and long-term solutions for efficient operation of the industry, including resource use, supply, efficiency and technology investment.

The findings identified alignment around the need for efficiency gains across gas, water and electric utilities, key themes found were:

  • Consumers want help from utilities to better manage their resources. Eight percent of consumers are displeased by the current level of information they get from their utilities and the majority want more information about efficiency programs. Further, consumers rank “offering energy efficiency programs” as a top unmet need from the utility industry.
  • Government policy is critical, but currently perceived as a barrier. According to 94% of utility executives, current regulation and lack of clarity around regulation is a top barrier to infrastructure investment. Utility executives list dealing with new regulations—or the possibility of new regulations—as the number one challenge for the industry.
  • Technology is a key to transformation. More than half of utility executives said they would invest in technology if they had an increased budget, and 75% said effectively managing big data is critical to modernizing infrastructure.

The Resourcefulness Index underscores that technology and data will be crucial to achieving transformation and improving industry operations. This, combined with increased engagement and communication from utility companies, will be vital for achieving efficient energy usage.

While many themes were similar across gas, water and electric utilities, the Resourcefulness Index highlighted some important nuances:

  • Consumers and industry executives are least concerned about the price and continued supply of natural gas and most concerned about electric utilities’ long-term ability to meet demand.
  • The major concern regarding water utilities is the impact of outdated infrastructure.