To remain competitive, U.S. utilities will need to provide cleaner, low-carbon electricity while enabling customers to better manage and reduce their energy use, according to Ceres' new report, ‘The 21st Century Electric Utility: Positioning for a Low-Carbon Future,’ authored by Navigant Consulting.
The report examines major trends reshaping the electric power sector, which is responsible for 40% of all U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The report also examines the implications for investors and utilities' business strategies going forward.
‘The traditional paradigm of building large fossil-fuel power plants to sell ever-increasing amounts of electricity is fast becoming obsolete,’ says said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a national network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups. ‘New business models must include aggressive energy efficiency measures and delivery of cleaner, low-carbon energy through renewable and smart grid technologies. Realizing these changes, as a handful of utilities have begun to do, requires a fundamental rethinking of how we produce, transmit and use electricity in the U.S.’
The report outlines key trends affecting the industry, roadblocks that must be overcome, and actions that utilities must take to ensure a successful transition to providing cleaner energy to their customers sooner, and on a significantly larger scale.
Key industry trends include the following:
– Growing imperatives to reduce GHG emissions by upwards of 80% by 2050;
– Increasing policy and regulatory momentum at the state, regional and federal level that will make fossil-fuel-based electricity generation, especially coal-based generation, less competitive;
– Ever-increasing utilization – and policy support – for cost-effective energy efficiency and smart grid technologies; and
– Declining renewable energy costs.
The report includes specific recommendations for utilities to respond to these fast-changing industry shift, including integrating cost-effective renewable energy resources into the generation mix.
The report is available for download at ceres.org.