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4 Big Themes from the DOE's Latest Quadrennial Energy Review

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What trends are shaping the future of the U.S. electricity grid? 

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Energy released the second installment of its Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) report. Part two — "Transforming the Nation's Electricity System" — highlights a variety of factors impacting the grid's future and offers 76 recommendations for protecting and enhancing the nation's grid infrastructure through modernization and transformation.

Here are some of the key themes from the latest report. 

1. "Internet of Things" (IoT) technology is playing a growing role in modernization. 

According to QER 1.2, the accelerating growth of IoT technology is a key enabler in modernizing the U.S. grid and economy. Panoramic Power is one of those key technologies. It analyzes 8 billion data points per month and counting and offers large businesses a device-level energy management solution that gives them unprecedented, real-time visibility into their energy efficiency, equipment performance and business operations.

2. The U.S. power generation mix is quickly changing. 

Natural gas and renewables are changing U.S. power generation. Last year, the natural gas share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation topped coal generation for the first time ever, averaging 34 percent and 30 percent respectively. Additionally, according to EIA's Electric Power Monthly, the U.S. electricity grid added about 26 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale generating capacity last year. Altogether, solar (9.5 GW) and natural gas (8.0 GW) led the way, making up more than two-thirds of total additions. 

3. Improved energy efficiency is driving down electricity demand. 

In recent decades, U.S. electricity demand growth has flattened, thanks largely to improved building efficiency, appliance standards and energy management. However, according to our recent survey of 300+ energy decision makers, there is still significant room for improvement. While survey respondents widely agree that energy management is critical to good business, a surprising 94 percent of businesses still fall short of a comprehensive energy strategy. 

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4. Weather events continue to threaten reliability.

Extreme weather events can have a major impact on reliability and  energy prices. In 2014, the polar vortex caused prices to skyrocket across the country, including in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and PJM service territories. You can mitigate your business's risk exposure and get more out of your energy budget by taking some basic precautions

Want to learn more about the trends impacting the U.S. energy landscape in 2017? Watch our interview with Direct Energy Business president John Schultz in the video below. 


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Posted: January 27, 2017