Guidehouse Report for Electric Utilities Unveils How COVID-19, Climate Change, and New Business Models Are Accelerating Both Disruption and Progress

Guidehouse and Public Utilities Fortnightly release sixth annual State and Future of Power report

WASHINGTON – June 8, 2021 – A survey of more than 250 executives and influencers across the US and Canadian power sector reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has created lasting changes for the utility industry as stakeholders continue to grapple with ever-evolving business models and an increasing need for improved resiliency.

Survey results from Guidehouse and Public Utilities Fortnightly’s sixth annual special report on State and Future of Power found that:

“Utility executives are handling short term COVID-19-related constraints as well as addressing long term climate and resiliency risks. The complexity of a rapidly changing market landscape and the ongoing disruption are accelerating changes in how utilities operate in an evolving energy system and how they interact with their customers,” says Dan Hahn, leader of Guidehouse’s Energy Providers practice. “The transition to zero carbon assets and solutions, proactive customers with connected devices, distributed resources, and increasingly engaged stakeholders, are forcing utilities to reevaluate their strategic priorities. However, last year is proof that utilities can react to disruption and continue to move toward the utility of the future.”

Old Playbooks Obsolete

Once considered unachievable in many parts of the utility business, remote work quickly became a reality in 2020 as utilities developed innovative processes and mechanisms to engage and support their customers while maintaining reliable service. According to this year’s report, investment in operational flexibility and digital solutions to protect workers’ health and safety were major priorities, alongside the development of virtual customer engagement strategies. Survey responses indicate that this new way of working is expected to continue over the long term.

Evolving Business Model Complexity

Utilities are already actively deploying new business models such as energy as a service, subscription-based retail solutions, various models for distributed resources, and electrification. Through utility partnerships, buildings and transportation electrification can help reverse declining load while also offering a suite of new products and services for customers, according to the report. However, even as utilities quickly upended traditional processes in response to the pandemic, many survey respondents indicated that regulatory barriers and a historically risk-averse culture are inhibitors to business model innovation.

Urgency for Resiliency

In addition to the pandemic, utilities are also grappling with more frequent extreme weather events and growing cyber threats, both of which can have catastrophic consequences. The report shows that over the last two years, resiliency planning has accelerated across the power industry, and that mitigation efforts, along with investment in resilient infrastructure, were highly ranked by respondents, underscoring the urgency with which utilities need to act. Securing the electric grid from physical attacks and cyberattacks is also a high priority for the power industry, with 86% of respondents indicating that between cyber and physical security, cybersecurity is the bigger risk to utilities.

“While utilities faced countless challenges in the past year, this year’s State and Future of Power survey demonstrates that the industry continues to embrace change while evolving to meet new challenges head-on,” says Mackinnon Lawrence, global lead for Guidehouse Insights. “Given the complexity of disruption across the industry, utility executives will need to remain flexible and vigilant as they navigate an increasingly clean, distributed, mobile, and digitized future.”

Download State and Future of Power to see the full survey results and insights from 13 of Guidehouse’s experts. The report analyzes today’s utility industry and the major changes expected in the next 10-15 years. Join the social media conversation through #FutureUtility.

About Guidehouse’s Energy, Sustainability, and Infrastructure Segment

With more than 700 consultants, Guidehouse’s global Energy, Sustainability, and Infrastructure segment is the strongest in the industry. We are the go-to partner for leaders creating sustainable, resilient communities and infrastructure, serving as trusted advisors to utilities and energy companies, large corporations, investors, NGOs, and the public sector. We’ve solved big challenges with the world’s 60 largest electric, water, and gas utilities; the 20 largest independent power generators; five of the 10 largest oil & gas majors; the 20 largest gas distribution and pipeline companies; European governments; and the US federal government’s civilian agencies involved in the country’s land, resources, and infrastructure. We combine our passion, expertise, and industry relationships to forge a resilient path toward sustainability for our clients. We turn vision into action by leading and de-risking the execution of big ideas and driving outcomes for our clients that enable them to reach their ambitions through transformation. For more information, please visit www.guidehouse.com/esi.

About Guidehouse
Guidehouse is a leading global provider of consulting services to the public and commercial markets with broad capabilities in management, technology, and risk consulting. We help clients address their toughest challenges and navigate significant regulatory pressures with a focus on transformational change, business resiliency, and technology-driven innovation. Across a range of advisory, consulting, outsourcing, and digital services, we create scalable, innovative solutions that prepare our clients for future growth and success. The company has more than 10,000 professionals in over 50 locations globally.  Guidehouse is a Veritas Capital portfolio company, led by seasoned professionals with proven and diverse expertise in traditional and emerging technologies, markets, and agenda-setting issues driving economies around the world. For more information, please visit: www.guidehouse.com.

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