Electric lines on poles along the streets of our cities and countryside may appear to be the same today as they were decades ago, but don’t let that fool you: The energy industry is undergoing a momentous transformation. Virtually the only element of our industry that is not changing is relentless innovation.
Those electric lines may look familiar, but equipment connected to them is increasingly cutting edge. New equipment is being deployed that can automatically detect an outage, isolate the problem and re-route energy to customers. Sensors on power lines and substations monitor the state of the grid and make adjustments before outages or other problems occur. Technology enables energy companies to manage system voltage in ways that automatically and seamlessly reduce customers’ energy use.
Smart meters are being installed in millions of homes nationwide, giving customers much greater insight into how they use energy and allowing power companies to better operate and optimize the grid. Smart meters are an essential part of a smarter grid that is more resilient.
Across Indiana, energy companies are proactively updating aging infrastructure and adding new technology. Even the poles and wires are stronger and sturdier than those built decades ago.
The sources of energy powering your homes and business are also changing. Wind and solar power are increasingly part of the diverse Hoosier energy mix. Battery storage technology continues to advance. Microgrids can disconnect from the traditional grid to operate autonomously, enhancing reliability and strengthening grid resilience.
Change is occurring on the other side of the meter as well. Smart thermostats help customers better manage their energy use. Customers are increasingly being given options to their benefit. For example, during high-usage days, customers may allow their energy provider to slightly and temporarily adjust their thermostat settings in exchange for bill credits. Energy companies offer residential, commercial and industrial customers a host of energy efficiency programs and incentives to help them save energy.
Increasingly, customers are finding that electric cars and hybrids have numerous cost advantages in addition to improving air quality. More businesses use electric forklifts for their dependability, lower operating costs, environmental benefits and lower center of gravity.
The most important aspect of our businesses is, of course, our customers. Successful energy providers must evolve to continue providing not just safe, reliable electricity but offering customers new ways to better use our product more conveniently and serving customers in ways they want to be served.