Itron Inc. announced the release of the first-ever “Itron Resourcefulness Index,” a global survey of the state of the utility industry.
The survey finds the industry at a critical tipping point, with 94% of utility executives believing the industry needs to be transformed and 80% of consumers dissatisfied with the current amount of information they are receiving from their utility. The findings highlight the need for utilities to do more to achieve operational efficiencies and to take a more active role in educating consumers about energy and water use.
“I’m pleased to present the Itron Resourcefulness Index as a new benchmark for the utility industry. Increasing constraints on global resources combined with accelerated technological innovation place the industry at a critical juncture in defining how we will successfully manage finite resources, meet growing demand and engage consumers around the world,” said Philip Mezey, Itron CEO. “The Resourcefulness Index helps identify key challenges facing the industry that we can, and must, work together to solve.”
Itron surveyed more than 600 utility executives and 800 consumers across 14 countries to measure perceptions on issues critical to the operation of gas, water and electric utilities. The objective was to understand the views of consumers and utility executives on current challenges and long-term solutions for efficient operation of the industry, including resource use, supply, efficiency and technology investment.
The findings identified alignment around the need for efficiency gains across gas, water and electric utilities, key themes found were:
- • Consumers want help from utilities to better manage their resources. A total of 80 percent of consumers are displeased by the current level of information they get from their utilities and the majority want more information about efficiency programs. Further, consumers rank “offering energy efficiency programs” as a top unmet need from the utility industry.
- • Government policy is critical, but currently perceived as a barrier. According to 94 percent of utility executives, current regulation and lack of clarity around regulation is a top barrier to infrastructure investment. Utility executives list dealing with new regulations – or the possibility of new regulations – as the number one challenge for the industry.
- • Technology is a key to transformation. More than half of utility executives said they would invest in technology if they had an increased budget, and 75 percent said effectively managing big data is critical to modernizing infrastructure.
The Resourcefulness Index underscores that technology and data will be crucial to achieving transformation and improving industry operations. This, combined with increased engagement and communication from utility companies, will be vital for achieving efficient energy usage.
While many themes were similar across gas, water and electric utilities, the Resourcefulness Index highlighted some important nuances. Consumers and industry executives are least concerned about the price and continued supply of natural gas and most concerned about electric utilities’ long-term ability to meet demand. Also, the major concern regarding water utilities is the impact of outdated infrastructure.
“The interconnectedness of energy and water, and the increase in demand, makes the management of both resources more critical than ever,” said Michael Webber, PhD., deputy director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, who provided expert insight for the survey. “The Itron Resourcefulness Index highlights these critical challenges and the important role of technology in solving them. Over time, the Index will serve as a helpful reference guide for utility executives, governments, analysts and consumers around the world to track perceptions of the industry. It will also help us make progress towards becoming more resourceful in how we manage precious energy and water resources.”
Full survey findings are available here.