The future of electric utilities discussed

March 24th, 2016, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: Energize, Featured: Energize


Front coverThe electric utility business, which was mostly stable and predictable in the past, is now seeing similar technological and societal challenges as were experienced by the mainframe computer industry in the 1980s and the film camera industry in the 1990s; namely the need to adapt to modern technologies and customer demands.

There are many who believe that the electric power sector is entering, or has already entered, a new phase in its evolution, requiring significant changes in its operations, business model, culture, and how it is regulated. The debate about the future of the power industry is heated, with varied opinions on the ultimate outcome. Some suggest the dreaded utility death spiral is here, or near, and the industry is heading into a fatal stall from which there is no escape.

Future of Utilities – Utilities of the future: how technological innovations in distributed energy resources will reshape the electric power sector, edited by Fereidoon P. Sioshansi, provides a view of the present situation and presents 22 articles by international experts in the field of electricity generation, transmission and distribution, efficiency and tariff setting.

Click here to view the book’s contents page

The book is divided into three sections, covering the implications of change; issues pertaining to competition, innovation, regulation and pricing, and the need for new business models in the light of changing technologies.

Significant technological change, mostly on the customer end of the supply chain, have begun to become noticeable. Smart meters enable consumers to manage and control their usage better, and self-generation makes it possible for them to meet some of their own needs. In a relatively short period of time, distributed energy resources transformed consumers into “prosumers”: active participants in the market, rather than passive consumers of bulk electricity from the grid. Suddenly, a growing number of prosumers can generate some or virtually all their electricity needs, at prices on par or, in some cases, cheaper than buying it from the grid.

The articles contained within this book are relevant to the South African situation which, as a result of the state-run electricity generating company’s inability to meet the country’s electricity demand, faces serious electricity shortages and power interruptions.

The South African government’s response to the crisis was to implement the renewable energy independent power producers’ procurement programme (REIPPPP), which allows licensed private sector companies to generate and sell electricity to Eskom for use by anyone connected to the national grid. The nature of renewable energy determines its geographic position, which has resulted in a more widely spread distribution pattern.

The merits of distributed electricity generation, particularly in a country as large as South Africa, cannot be ignored. The losses incurred in high voltage transmission lines over a thousand kilometres or more, together with the instability such long runs introduce to the network, are best countered by regional generation. Because of its importance, electrical voltage and frequency stability is governed by regulations and national standards.

Speculation about the falling costs of storage, microgrids and other technologies adds fuel to the current interest in utilities of the future. Among the main issues covered in this book is a discussion of a rational way to address these changes and find a constructive path forward.

The future of utilities, utilities of the future
Edited by Fereidoon P. Sioshansi
Published by Elsevier, April 2016, Paperback, 467 pages, ISBN: 978-0-12-804249-6
List price: $100.00
To purchase this book, click here for the Elsevier store site
Use discount ENG315 to save 30% off the list price at check-out

Contact Fereidoon Sioshansi, Menlo Energy Economics,






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