DistribuTECH 2015 kicked off this morning and during the opening session, we heard from Itron President and CEO Philip Mezey about waste and resourcefulness within the utility industry. As the world’s population continues to grow, increasing resource usage, it is important for everyone – particularly utilities – to more efficiently and effectively manage the use of energy and water resources.

Utilities are facing an aging infrastructure and workforce, and a fixed asset base, which makes managing energy and water critical to ongoing economic prosperity, resource conservation and social wellbeing. In the past few years, there have been great strides made toward efficiency and the resourceful use of energy and water. However, there is still work to be done.

A large amount of resources are lost within the utility industry every year due to waste. In the U.S. alone, we lose $24 billion per year from electricity transmission and distribution losses, $13.1 billion due to water leaks and over an 11 year period, $20 billion from natural gas that was unaccounted for and never used. This is a huge amount of loss that totals more than $37 billion per year.

If we could reduce this waste by just 1 percent, there would be an estimated savings of $370 million, while a 10 percent reduction would save approximately $3.7 billion.

Several steps can be taken to achieve this critical reduction in waste. These include:

  • Revitalizing and investing in infrastructure improvements
  • Investing in technology and solutions to further reduce waste and increase resourcefulness
  • Educating the public and future employees on consumption and conservation and, through this, attract a younger, tech-savvy workforce
  • Begin the transformation from utilities that deliver resources to companies that create jobs and improve lives
  • Lay the groundwork for a future-proof business model through the integration of renewables

As utilities work to incorporate these steps, the industry and economy can benefit greatly. However, no utility or company can achieve these broad results on their own. As we move forward, industry collaboration and cooperation will become increasingly important –sharing technology and information to benefit the masses. The utility industry needs engaged leadership that is willing to act and make these decisions to reduce waste and create a more resourceful world.

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