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Energy Currents
A Blog by Enerdynamics

Future of Energy: Clean Power, Distributed Energy, Grid Modernization 

by Bob Shively, Enerdynamics President and Lead Facilitator

“This year, it’s clear that the future of energy is inextricably tied to environmental awareness.” ~ Utility Dive, 2020 State of the Electric Utility Survey

Each year, the energy industry publication Utility Dive surveys executives and professionals from electric utilities and retailers and provides results in the State of the Electric Utility Survey. The annual surveys provide an excellent ongoing snapshot on what is most important to those driving outcomes in the electric industry. The 2020 version, in which over 500 individuals were surveyed, clearly demonstrated that the industry is rapidly transitioning to a world of clean power, distributed energy, and grid modernization but that this transition will not be without challenges. Here is a summary of key issues identified:

2020 utility survey

Source: Utility Dive, 2020 State of the Electric Utility Survey

As the industry evolves, huge changes in current practices and cultures are required. What electric industry trends can we expect given the information in the survey?

  1. Renewable energy is here to stay and will grow even in regions where historically it has not made inroads on traditional sources of generation.
  2. Utilities and retailers must adjust their business models and services to account for rapid growth in distributed energy resources (DERs).
  3. Grid modernization will be necessary to address aging infrastructure and growth in DERs, but utilities will continue to grapple with obtaining rate recovery on needed investments.
  4. The industry is optimistic that load growth will return after years of static usage.
  5. Given uncertainty and politicization of federal energy policy, state policy and regulatory reforms will drive the agenda.
  6. Many believe that significant reforms to state regulatory models and utility business models are needed as the current cost-of-service model is hampering utilities' ability to respond to the evolving world.
  7. A key concern is whether the transition will result in affordability issues for customers.
  8. Resilience and adaptation to climate change has become an important planning criterion.
  9. The electric industry is closely watching the nascent electric vehicle industry but is uncertain as to whether this will prove to be a significant new revenue opportunity.
  10. There is a need to improve technology adoption as older technology and systems are hindering industry evolution, but it is difficult to pay for technology upgrades under the current business models.

For anyone active in the industry, it is clear that the next few years will prove to be interesting.

Need to enhance your employees' knowledge and skills to prepare them for the world reflected in the State of the Energy Utility Survey? Enerdynamics offers online and live seminars covering all the key issues including basic industry understanding that covers key current issues, renewables and distributed energy resources, regulation and ratemaking, and the future of the utility industry. For more info visit or contact us at or 866.765.5432 ext. 700.

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