Utilities: Take our microgrid survey and become eligible for a free drone

June 7, 2022
We’re exploring how utilities employ microgrids and other value-added services. Please take our survey and become eligible to win a drone.

What is a utility, exactly? What does it do? The simple answer, of course, is that it sells electricity or natural gas or both. But that’s changing as utilities offer more and more value-added services for customers.

They’re doing so because their customers want to capture energy resilience and sustainability. They want to lower energy costs. And they’re beginning to look to utilities for climate-friendly vehicle fuel.

Take the Microgrid Knowledge Utility Survey, get the results, and become eligible for a free drone!

Microgrids offer one way to meet these customer desires so, not surprisingly, more utilities are adding microgrids to their portfolio of value-added services, along with electric vehicle charging, battery storage, virtual power plants, distributed energy resources, smart electric panels, home and building electrification, time-of-use rates, smart meters, direct load control, demand response, energy efficiency measures and more.

As a result, “the stodgy” utility is quickly becoming a thing of the past, said Joe Woomer, vice president of grid and technical solutions for Dominion Energy, a Virginia-based investor-owned utility that operates in 13 states.

“I’ve worked here for 35 years. The pace of change today is more exciting than anything I’ve seen in my career,” he said in an interview with Microgrid Knowledge.

We wanted to learn more about these transformations so, during the first quarter of this year, we interviewed a range of utilities of various sizes and types about the value-added services they now offer — and what they’ve got on the drawing board.

How do they choose and institute these programs? Do they stem from climate strategy or integrated resource plans? Are they tackling them solo or turning to contractors, and, if so, what are they looking for in partners? 

What stumbling blocks do they face in bringing the services to customers? Are they primarily regulatory, financial or technical? And how do these programs change the utility-customer relationships?

Mismanaged expectations are one problem several utilities noted. The customer hears about the possibility of a cool new gadget and assumes it’s as easy to buy and activate as an iPhone.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding, people think, ‘Hey, just give me a battery.’ Well, there is cost, maintenance, setbacks … So a lot of our time goes into education,” said Woomer.

Over the next few months, we intend to roll out our findings in a report and a series of articles profiling the utilities that we interviewed. But before we do that, we’d like to capture additional information and seek help from Microgrid Knowledge readers. We are launching a survey, which we ask you to take to increase our understanding of utility activity. Please feel free to pass the link along to others who may offer additional insight, especially those working for or with utilities.

We will offer you a copy of the results if you take the survey. Better yet you’ll be eligible for a Ruko U11 Pro Drone with 4K Camera for Adults, 52 Min Flight Time, 5G FPV GPS Drone for Beginners with Live Video, Brushless Motor, Auto Return, Follow Me, Circle Fly, RC Quadcopter with 2 batteries!

Thanks for your help! And please watch for our article series on utility transformation, value-added services and microgrids.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

Twitter: @ElisaWood

LinkedIn: Elisa Wood

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