U.S. Utilities Seek to Learn from Germany

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Photo by jimw via Creative Commons

A recent New York Times article noted that utilities around the world are getting nervous about solar and other renewable energy sources. The utilities, the article said, are worried that technologies they once dismissed may threaten their business model. They’re seeing what’s happening in Germany and thinking the pattern could be repeated in other countries.

U.S. utilities are now seeking to learn from Germany. Leaders from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and energy consulting firm ScottMadden are in Germany with a group of about 25 U.S. energy industry executives to take a look for themselves. The plan is to exchange information with electricity and solar market leaders there who are adapting to the fast-changing environment.

This select group of executives will meet with energy industry peers. Their goal? To return with insights and practical knowledge that can be applied to planning and business decisions in the U.S.

The trip, taking place September 14–18, features face-to-face meetings with thought leaders and decision makers from the electric utility, transmission, and renewable energy industries, as well as government, trade, and industry associations, and also market experts. The program is interactive and is focusing on questions like these:

  • What are the objectives of the energy transition? Have the selected policies been effective in meeting those objectives?
  • What unanticipated impacts have emerged? How are they being addressed?
  • What new business models can help electric utilities adapt and grow in a market with significant distributed generation penetration and declining revenue?
  • What tools are needed to cost-effectively shift from a traditional fuel mix to a greater renewable resource mix without sacrificing reliability?
  • Who has developed a successful roadmap for energy company transition?

It will be interesting indeed to see what insights the executives get from their visit.

You don’t have to wait till they return. Julia Hamm, President and CEO of SEPA, and ScottMadden partners Chris Vlahoplus and John Pang are attending the event. For real-time updates, follow them @JuliaHamm, @ChrisVlahoplus, and @PangJohnC.