Innovation is all the buzz. But ideas are cheap: it’s solutions that have value. Can a regulated, monopolistic electric utility compete against the myriad nimble, technology start-ups that plan to change the world? Does it need to? We need a “new paradigm of thinking” in our industry.
Electric service customers want safe, reliable and affordable electric service sourced from more cleaner and more renewable resources, but the business models that might continue to allow sustainable progress are changing. How regulated electric utilities prepare to provide a solid return to investors in as little as the next five years is a big question. It needs an answer.
CEO’s today address the question with think tanks, focus groups, idea incentives, pilots and investment partnerships. But, there’s nothing new and transformational here. Idea programs and talk of the need for innovation have been around for decades. It’s not an easy process. New ideas are hard to incubate and develop and even harder to take to market. Some of the best innovations of recent times like AEP’s Breakthrough Overhead Line Design (BOLD) or SDG&E’s renewable meter adapter can take years to get to market and gain customer acceptance. In the 1980’s, Houston Light & Power (now CenterPointe Energy) offered the immured foundation as a commercially licensed foundation system whose patent has now expired. The immured foundation was great idea, but very hard to enforce the commercial licensing once the simple concept was promoted in the trade journals.
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This is just the beginning of “A New Paradigm of Thinking,” an in-depth whitepaper with the latest and greatest solutions for an industry of change.