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Utility Dive: State of the Electric Utility 2021: Gas Doubts Rise, DER Focus Wanes, and 5 Other Key Takeaways

Posted by Larry Pearl on Apr 1, 2021

Utility Dive highlighted key takeaways from their 2021 SEU Survey Report, quoting AEE’s Lisa Frantzis and Ryan Katofsky on current market trends and referencing AEE Market Report data. Read excerpts below and the full story here.

Utility Dive today released its 8th annual State of the Electric Utility (SEU) Survey Report, which is chock full of data and insights about the power sector.

The report, based on a survey completed near the end of 2020 by electric utility executives and professionals, covers trends in load, generation, non-baseload technologies and utility regulatory and business models, among other topics…

[H]ere are seven key takeaways.

Despite COVID impacts, the energy transition is as strong as ever

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the power sector in numerous ways, from supply chain disruptions to changes in how utilities monitor and address problems on their systems…

But throughout the report one thing is consistently clear: despite the pandemic, the energy transition is stronger than ever and the forces propelling it continue to grow…

"I, too, am shocked that, despite COVID, the [advanced energy] industry has been going pretty strong," said Lisa Frantzis, senior managing director at Advanced Energy Economy (AEE). Recently released AEE data shows the industry grew significantly last year, with revenues up 8% from $200 billion in 2019 to $216 billion in 2020, excluding ethanol. According to AEE, "advanced energy includes energy efficiency, demand response, energy storage, wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, electric vehicles, and more."

Part of the reason for the sector's continued growth may be that, after things shut down in the spring, the industry and others put a lot of emphasis on "figuring out how to get things moving again safely," said Ryan Katofsky, managing director at AEE.

Solar remains number one for new generation; doubts are rising about the future of gas

Grid-scale solar energy retained its number one spot in this year's report, in terms of growth expectations among various energy resources…

A much bigger difference in year-over-year expectations can be seen with natural gas, with the percent of respondents expecting a decrease over the next ten years jumping from 17% to 30% [between 2020 and 2021]...

AEE's Katofsky pointed to the falling costs of wind and solar, the continued growth of storage, and the proliferation of 100% clean electricity standards, which can be found in at least 18 states as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, as key drivers

Utilities continue to be unsure about the merits of performance-based regulation, though many welcome some aspect of it…

Hawaii is at the forefront of a growing number of states that are moving to performance-based regulation (PBR), whereby utilities are compensated based on their ability to achieve public policy and customer-related goals. But there are also a number of safeguards in the Hawaii example to ensure adequate utility finances.

Hawaii "provides an interesting model for other states to look at," said Katofsky. In addition to Hawaii, several other states, including Michigan and New York, are moving toward PBR, and the trend is likely to grow, Frantzis noted.

The number of survey respondents who selected PBR as the regulatory model that would best support their organization's business growth over the next decade remains a relatively small minority. But the numbers have inched up from 12% in the 2020 report to 15% in the 2021 report.

Read excerpts below and the full story here.


Topics: AEE In The News