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Survey: Utilities concerned about regulation, infrastructure, cyber security

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A new report is shedding light on the obstacles utilities face over the coming years and the steps they are taking to ensure the continued investment and development of the smart grid.

According to a survey of more than 100 senior level executives representing U.S. and Canadian electric and natural gas companies, there are five critical challenges facing the further development of the industries going onward. In order of importance, they are environmental regulation, an aging infrastructure, non-environmental regulation, an aging industry workforce and the need for new pricing mechanisms.

The survey, which was conducted by Capgemini, found that maintaining high levels of reliable power delivery was cited as a key industry focus by more than 50 percent of respondents. However, executives said they were finding it difficult to achieve because of an aging transmission infrastructure.

Furthermore, executives said they were worried about smart grid security, with substation security and other cyber security measures landing high on the list. Platts market research director Tia Hensler Heath said that utilities face a wide swath of challenges going forward.

"While executives identified environmental regulations as the most important issue facing the power industry, and they expect wind, solar, and natural gas to increase in their fuel mix, they continued to give the nod to nuclear and unconventional gas," Heath said. 

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