Previewing the 2022 Utility Transformation Survey May 2, 2022 | By Lakin Garth More than 100 utilities of all types, sizes and locations participated in the first SEPA Utility Transformation Survey in 2020. The survey is a key component of the SEPA Utility Transformation Challenge, a comprehensive and objective assessment of U.S. electric utilities’ progress towards a carbon-free energy system. Based on analysis of those survey responses, SEPA published the 2021 Utility Transformation Profile which identified top trends and challenges as well as five recommendations for utilities as they pursue their own path of transformation. SEPA also identified a leaderboard of utilities which demonstrated the most progress in their transformation journey. Today, SEPA is thrilled to debut the 2022 Utility Transformation Survey! New and Improved Survey In addition to making the survey available to electric distribution utilities in the U.S., SEPA has redesigned the survey topics to encourage participation from utilities with generation and/or transmission assets, acknowledging the very important role these utilities play in the transition to a carbon-free system. Beyond including generation and transmission utilities, SEPA has also expanded the survey’s scope to more holistically assess the electric utility industry and streamline the process for utility participation. The 2022 survey asks more targeted questions and uses a new simplified platform. Survey links are sharable within utility organizations and, as before, SEPA will aggregate and anonymize individual survey responses and data across all reporting and presentations. SEPA examines the utility industry’s transformation to a carbon-free energy system by exploring four dimensions: (1) Clean Energy Resources, (2) Corporate Leadership, (3) Modern Grid Enablement, and (4) Aligned Actions and Engagement. Together, these four dimensions form the basis of the evaluation framework, and help SEPA identify the common attributes of utilities that are leading the transformation. In 2022, SEPA has expanded the scope and supplemental data collection to develop a more robust representation of each dimension. Here’s a preview of what to expect. Clean Energy Resources The procurement and deployment of carbon-free energy and the utilization of other carbon-reducing capabilities, including demand flexibility and energy efficiency, are key to transformation. Questions encompassing the Clean Energy Resources dimension include: Overall levels of clean energy sold/supplied (as of 2021) Improvements in clean energy sold/supplied relative to the initial survey collection period (2021 vs 2018) Demand-side management energy and capacity Corporate Leadership Corporate leadership explores how utilities are using their unique operational knowledge, expertise and influence to navigate change management and pursue strategic solutions to reach a carbon-free grid. The Corporate Leadership dimension integrates data from the SEPA Utility Carbon-Reduction Tracker and requests additional information regarding carbon-reduction target emissions scopes. Other questions within this dimension include: Utility clean energy plans Carbon emissions reporting and verification Governance and oversight for climate change risks and resiliency Executive compensation related to carbon emission reductions Other utility sustainability initiatives Aligned Actions & Engagement Successful transformation involves elements outside a utility’s scope of operations. Utilities rely on policy frameworks established by governing authorities, as well as support from a wide range of industry stakeholders to evaluate, procure and deploy new technologies and supporting operating practices. Through Aligned Actions (e.g., innovative customer programs) and Engagement (e.g., comprehensive stakeholder processes), utilities can empower their customers and other stakeholders to fulfill their roles in the transformation. Survey questions within this dimension comprise the following categories: Customer clean energy programs Customer engagement Utility innovation initiatives Utility transportation electrification strategy Workforce development Modern Grid Enablement Transformation requires the integration of clean energy resources in ways that balance principles of grid flexibility, reliability, resilience, efficiency and affordability. The Modern Grid Enablement dimension assesses initiatives to build situational awareness, enhance grid management and coordination, advance integrated distribution planning and operational practices, and facilitate grid integration of new technologies. While this dimension includes common elements of grid modernization, it specifically features activities and processes that facilitate the transformation to clean energy. Survey questions within this dimension include: Distributed energy resource management and communication capabilities Distribution interconnection procedures and processes Grid-enabling technology Rate design innovation and affordability Reliability and resilience Utility planning and forecasting Why Participate? Don’t miss this opportunity to: Get our new benchmarking summary: a customized report showing how your utility’s efforts and innovations stack up against those of peer utilities Help shape the programs and services SEPA offers to you Accelerate the transformation by sharing challenges, lessons learned and best practices Be entered to win a pair of tickets to RE+, the largest clean energy event in the U.S., held this September in Anaheim, CA. Utilities that complete the full survey are eligible to win one of four pairs of tickets. Learn more when you get started. Survey Coming Soon The submittal deadline for the 2022 Utility Transformation Survey is June 15. If you’re interested in participating or have any questions, please fill out this form and we’ll contact you soon. You can also email our Utility Transformation Survey coordinator, Ann Collier, at [email protected] or call us at (202) 869-4295. Share Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedIn About the Author Lakin Garth Director, Research and Industry Strategy Lakin joined SEPA in August 2021 to manage the Utility Transformation Challenge and to provide utility sector decarbonization advisory services for SEPA’s member organizations. Prior to joining SEPA, Lakin spent almost 9 years with The Cadmus Group, most recently as Principal of the Planning and Assessment team where he specialized in demand side management analyses for integrated resource planning for a wide range of utility clients. Before Cadmus, Lakin served as a Senior Planning Project Manager at the Energy Trust of Oregon. Lakin has a Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business from the University of Georgia and a Master of Science in Economics from Portland State University. Lakin lives in Athens, Georgia with his wife and two sons and spends his remaining free time participating in mountain bike endurance racing.