What’s to Come
Mike Beehler, PE, is a Vice President at Burns & McDonnell. He has written and presented extensively on the subjects of security, reliability centered maintenance, program management and the smart grid. More recently, Beehler has written, presented and consulted on industry megatrends, the value of the grid and smart cities.
Megatrends are driven by technological and demographic changes. They are immutable. What megatrends can we identify within the basic value propositions of the modern electric utility? Identifying and understanding these megatrends offers insight into the industry and strategies for the future.
In 2012, we presented five immutable megatrends in the booming electric transmission and distribution industry in a much-discussed white paper, "Identifying Megatrends Shaping the T&D Industry."
Our predictions have proven to be accurate. Grid modernization, storage, maximizing the use of transmission rights-of-way, distributed energy resources, and operational efficiency are hallmarks of the next generation electric utility.
The future will be built on the fundamental values of our industry: safety, reliability, affordability, sustainability and compliance. In this context, what are the next megatrends?
Safety: Robotics and artificial intelligence will reduce or eliminate the need to put personnel in hazardous situations. Robots, including unmanned aerial systems, will safely and efficiently retrieve data from substations and overhead and underground transmission and distribution lines.