Major Trend #1 – Integration of Renewable Energy
Renewable energy public policy initiatives driven by concerns for climate change, energy security and demand for clean energy, are causing utilities to prepare for a future clean energy grid. These preparations include planning for increased integration of private power generation, implementation of innovative pricing structures (FiT, time of day use, etc), significant investment in new technology (particularly at the distribution level) and implementation of required regulatory changes.
- Creation of new leadership roles (ie, interconnection, interoperability, technology)
- Skills development internally or external augmentation, especially technical
Major Trend #2 – Replacement of Aging Infrastructure and Asset Management
In North America, historic low levels of grid reinvestment and end of life asset timing are resulting in plans for significant investment in new assets and upgrading of existing assets. This trend is also driving significant new technology development for product and service providers, particularly in the areas of smart grid (distribution level two-way operation and information flow), electrical equipment reliability, and service life extension and transmission line capacity.
- Leadership talent capable of managing significant capital projects
- Emphasis on partnership management skills for both capacity expansion and operation
Major Trend # 3 – An Aging Workforce
For most North America utilities, 25% – 33% of the workforce is eligible to retire within the next 60 months. Many of these retirees are technical, with significant expertise gained during last major utility expansion period ending. There will be a crucial technical skills gap appearing in most major utilities during the upcoming period, at a time when these skills are needed most.
- Increased recruitment of technical leadership roles
- Significant increase in mid-level recruitment of technical resources with proven knowledge
- Investment in productivity enhancement and knowledge transfer measures
Eamonn has a B. Eng. (Electrical) from Lakehead University, MBA (Finance) from University of Toronto, and has completed Executive Education at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He lives in Vancouver, Canada. Follow him on twitter @EamonnPercy.