Utilities Innovating Globally
Nick Akins is the CEO of American Electric Power.
Utilities have a long history of achieving operational and economic efficiency through innovation. Today, our customers are asking for new services and products beyond reliable and affordable energy. Consumers are savvy and expect AEP and other electric companies to find new ways to deliver enhanced services and benefits. And to do it faster than ever before.
To be successful in this environment, electric companies need to: scout out new innovation technologies; prove them out at high speed; demonstrate their benefits to customers and policymakers; secure timely regulatory support or contractual approvals for innovation and deployment; and deploy them at scale.
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners adopted a resolution this summer encouraging state regulators to work with industry to accelerate investments and find the appropriate rate designs to support infrastructure modernization for electric vehicles, batteries, microgrids, solar PV and other innovative technologies. [See "Resolution Supporting Infrastructure Modernization Programs," CI-1/EL-2, passed July 18, 2018, at naruc.org.]
It is critical for state regulators and lawmakers to better understand what technology innovations are available to benefit customers and the role electric companies need to have in broadly deploying advanced energy technologies.
I asked my colleagues at Hydro-Québec and Enel X to join me in sharing their innovation programs and experience with regulators so that we can partner to bring innovative technologies to customers.
Together, AEP, Hydro-Québec and Enel X are leveraging strategic partnerships around the world to identify and invest in new technologies. By participating in global accelerator programs for startup companies, technology innovation networks and joint utility collaborations, we can quickly identify new solutions that will benefit all of our customers.
The following articles and accompanying videos [at fortnightly.com] explain: (a) how technology startup programs provide scale, efficiency and speed to fill electric company pipelines with innovative technologies that enable "Smart Communities" and the modernization of infrastructure; (b) how collaborations with electric companies in other countries help us to validate the potential of new technologies; (c) new innovative technologies that we are deploying today; and (d) innovative technologies we are validating for deployment within the next five years.
Articles for Utilities Innovating Globally:
- Europe's Lessons Learned: Valuable Hints for U.S. Energy Landscape, by Francesco Venturini, CEO, Enel X
- Hydro-Québec's Technology Innovation Programs: Yielding Timely, Substantial Results for Customers, by Jean Matte, Senior Director, Hydro-Québec's Research Institute
- How American Electric Power Becomes the Energy Company of the Future: With Technology Innovation, by Nick Akins, CEO, American Electric Power