Grid upgrades spark an interactivity revolution.
When utilities and regulators consider smart-grid investments, they tend to focus their analysis on operational issues, such as cost savings, reliability and the ability to defer capital investments through greater demand-response capabilities. They seldom focus on customer-service processes, practices or standards.
This stands to reason, because utilities traditionally are driven to achieve two overriding goals: reliability and cost control. As a result, T&D investments of any kind are justified primarily on whether they serve those two goals. However, smart-grid technologies might be opening the door to some fundamental changes that transcend the basic drivers of reliability and cost control—and perhaps starting a revolution in the way utilities serve their customers.
“Today the industry is focused on operational benefits because they are the most easily quantified in smart-grid business cases,” says Kit Hagen, a senior director with customer service company Convergys. “But smart grid is laying the foundation for a new world of customer interaction that will benefit both utilities and customers.”