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4 Key Takeaways from the Summer’s Biggest Gathering of Utility Leaders

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Earlier this month, more than 1,200 utility industry leaders and experts convened in New York City for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) summer meeting. 

The annual conference — which heard remarks from Richard Kauffman (Chairman of Energy & Finance for New York) and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani — featured in-depth panel discussions on a host of industry issues, ranging from the health benefits of energy efficiency to competitive alternatives to traditional natural gas offerings. 

Based on the gathering’s many conversations and presentations, here are four major takeaways:

1. Avoid becoming a "zombie industry."

Richard Kauffman cautioned that utilities shouldn’t focus on the much hyped utility “death spiral” — rather, they should innovate to avoid becoming a “zombie industry.” New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceedings are examining the traditional utility business model and looking to competitive markets to deliver cleaner, more efficient, and affordable energy to customers.

2. Rate design reform is already happening. 

Rate design reform isn’t around the corner — it’s happening right now. With more than 50 million smart meters deployed across the United States and the increased adoption of distributed energy resources, utilities, regulators, and other stakeholders are considering how to best recover the costs of building a modern grid.

3. Solar is taking several new forms. 

Solar isn’t just utility-scale or residential rooftops anymore. Community (or shared) solar is a model under consideration in several states. Innovative Solarize programs — like those served by Direct Energy Solar — and Direct Energy Business's groundbreaking partnership with SolarCity are providing customers with a unique value proposition. 

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4. Test your security systems. 

“Every company should be attacked regularly by itself,” asserted former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose comments centered on the importance of infrastructure and cyber security. He emphasized that — with the exception of federal defense agencies — neither private or public sector entities are devoting sufficient resources to cyber security. 

His advice? Companies should routinely “attack” or test their own systems and processes to assess their operational resilience. 


NARUC’s 127th annual meeting will be held this November in Austin, Texas. For insights on other major industry trends, check out our top 5 articles from June

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Posted: July 28, 2015