Utility of the Future

The Utility of the Future (and the Future of Utilities)

Electric utilities have been foundations for local and regional economic development since the industry started in the late 1800s. Their impact on social, community, and economic well-being has been and continues to be significant. But transformative forces are in play, which are altering the longstanding market and regulatory relationships between electricity providers and electricity consumers, including: weather, power supply technology, end-use technologies, smart grids, cyber threats, decarbonization, wholesale markets, and regulatory limitations.

Over the spring semester, the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Boston University will be offering monthly dialogues exploring issues related to the future of utilities and what the utility of the future might look like.

2019 Spring Symposium Series

Hosted by Questrom School Adjunct Professor and ISE Senior Fellow David Jermain.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019: Technology Disruption, Grid Management, and the Utility of the Future
Monday, February 11, 2019: Pathways to the Utility of the Future
Monday, March 25, 2019: Water, Energy, and the Utility of the Future (5:00pm to 6:00pm)
Monday, April 8, 2019: How Robots, Drones, and the Internet of Things Impact the Utility of the Future (4:30pm to 6:00pm)

BU Questrom School of Business
595 Commonwealth Ave / Conference Room 208

Please note that visiting speakers are subject to change. Updated information will be posted here and on the ISE calendar.

January 29, 2019
Technology Disruption, Grid Management, and the Utility of the Future

Guest: Dr. Karen Wayland, Director, former Deputy Director of the Energy Policy and Systems Analysis group of the US Department of Energy

The series kicks off with Dr. Karen Wayland, who will discuss with attendees the increasing breadth and depth of technology disruptions affecting present and future grid operations and what implications they have for the utility of the future.

Dr. Wayland is the Director, former Deputy Director of the Energy Policy and Systems Analysis group of the US Department of Energy, under Secretary Moniz. Dr. Wayland also worked in Congress for several years and presently advises companies and NGOs on sustainable energy issues and opportunities.

February 11, 2019
Pathways to the Utility of the Future
Guest: Richard Stuebi, Fellow, Institute for Sustainable Energy

Amidst an increasingly large chorus of thought leaders with diverse views of the utility of the future, few can speak from experience inside a utility on the challenges to be faced by an enterprise with an obligation to serve customers.  Mr. Stuebi has such depth of experience coupled with a diverse industry background that includes advisory work for utilities and new entrants to electricity markets. He shall speak from experience on what he thinks is in store for utilities in the coming decade.

March 25, 2019
Water, Energy, and the Utility of the Future
Guest: Dr. Jacquie Ashmore, Executive Director, Institute for Sustainable Energy

Energy utilities (electricity as well as natural gas distribution) and water utilities have functioned quite separately until recently. Today’s utility world finds several convergence points between electricity, in particular, and water services. For example, similar information infrastructure is required by both electric and water utilities for metering as well as for monitoring and controlling flows of electrons or water.  Service interruptions can be as severe for water as for electricity or natural gas distribution. Conservation (demand management) may be as significant, if not more so, for water as for electricity.

Dr. Ashmore, Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Boston University, will talk about the distinctive characteristics of water utilities and engage attendees in discussion of the future of water utilities as they co-evolve with the emergence of the energy utility of the future.

April 8, 2019
How Robots, Drones, and the Internet of Things Impact the Utility of the Future

Register

Utility asset management isn’t the sleepy low-tech affair it once was. An explosion in technology and big data has given utility field operations crews tools they never had before. Come see videos of these super cool technologies in action and hear leaders from three Massachusetts utilities, who will take your questions about how they are transforming the way they manage their billions in critical infrastructure investments.

  • Introductory remarks by Jacquie Ashmore, Executive Director of Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy
  • Panel moderated by Carter Wall, owner of Franklin Beach Energy and former Executive Director, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center

Panelists include:

  • Rockie Solomon, Customer Operations RPA Lead at Eversource Energy, on robotic process automation
  • Donna McCarthy, Corrosion Supervisor at Unitil, on using drones in natural gas operations
  • TBA

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