Power and utility data executives must also look ahead to compliance needs and the changes that will come with renewable energy integration and global warming, including mitigation strategies related to environmental disasters and climate change.
New regulations will transform the way utilities use data. In addition to using asset data for system planning, operations and scheduled inspections, companies will use asset data to enable emissions reporting and other forthcoming environmental, social and governance (ESG) data reporting mandates, where consistent, accurate and timely energy data and statistics are fundamental.
A free flow of information across the sector will also be necessary for utilities to meet customer expectations and to effectively embrace the future of the sector — such as when renewable energy (wind, hydro, solar) is purchased from customers or the increased adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Some utilities are experimenting with two-way power flows, which send excess energy from a residential customer through EVs or solar panels back to the grid during peak demand.
Utilities whose data capabilities do not transform to meet these levels of performance stand to have their shortcomings exposed. Many utilities are conducting a comprehensive review of whether their data systems are accurate.
Some data systems and architectures have been patched together after mergers and acquisitions or infrastructure upgrades, resulting in mismatched data. One utility found it had three record systems that contained materially different data about the number of transmission towers, and it could not identify a single system of record. Advanced digital systems cannot work to their full potential if sensors are not recording the right information, if data is assigned to the wrong asset, if data is stored across a wide array of business functions or if the business users don’t have access to reliable data.
Utilities need to establish data strategy now to meet stakeholders’ expectations.