Perspectives

Case Study

Establishing Leadership in Energy Efficiency and SmartGrid Infrastructure for a Midwest Electric Utility

Establishing regional leadership in energy efficiency, smartgrid and metering infrastructure, and successful regulatory, legislative and community engagement models for a Midwest electric utility.

Industry and Client Situation

A comprehensive strategic planning process identified the opportunities and challenges that resulted in a commitment to develop a new operating model for T&D — a “Delivery System of the Future,” which also led to a “Circuit of the Future” as well as the supporting capital and operating budgets, performance measures, benchmarks and targets, organizational and skill requirements.

Aging infrastructure and the need for additional energy supply posed the need for major capital expenditures across the business. But was there a better approach than investing in standard grid design and relying on existing regulatory models?

We helped the client craft — in collaboration with suppliers, regulatory, community, and environmental stakeholders — a comprehensive strategy to define and implement this future model, and create a novel form of regulatory support for funding the initial phases of investment.

Approach

  • We assisted in all aspects of this long-term transformation — including development of SmartGrid and metering business models, implementation planning, selecting pilots, developing regulatory strategy & models, direct discussion with commission staffs of two states, supported technology selection, channel strategy, and also DG/DR/EE program design and execution support
  • Developed and led implementation of a very successful process for gaining regulatory & external stakeholder support and overall community engagement . Early in the process gained input from key stakeholders through public seminars involving industry experts, regulators, community leaders, and other stakeholders. Once the strategy was developed, we assisted in socializing it with external stakeholders via regulatory workshops and public forums
  • To support the EE/DR and DG portfolio and address the aging infrastructure, a SmartGrid vision was defined to deliver AMI, DA, advanced system and load control, along with net metering
  • We helped create, staff and facilitate an external advisory group for executives of national and regional experts (with backgrounds ranging from environmental groups to architects & engineers and technology)
  • Conducted an in-depth review of leading  technologies, designs, practices, customer programs, strategies and initiatives around the industry including utility ownership of customer-sited DG and renewables — and related control and grid stability requirements
  • This transformational effort also included design and implementation of a cascading balanced scorecard performance management system (board-level to front line) that integrated the performance objectives and targets to the overall corporate strategic plan.

Results

The company is viewed as a leader in these areas, employee support and engagement has increased, technology pilots and upgrades are underway, budgets have been completely revised — and has resulted in both top decile reliability and approaching top quartile cost. Safety has also improved across the T&D operation.