Empowering Women in Utilities

At Itron Utility Week 2019, we once again celebrated the women who contribute their time and talent to the utility and smart city industries. Showcasing the power of community, the annual Women in Utilities Reception celebrated women at the forefront of our industry who are driving transformation and creating lasting change.

The reception began with opening remarks from Lynda Ziegler, who has served on the Itron Board of Directors since 2013. Lynda joined the board after a 30-year career at Southern California Edison, where she held various executive-level positions including senior vice president of customer service and executive vice president of power delivery services. During her remarks, Lynda shared her personal journey as a female leader in the industry.

Lynda was then joined by Dave Deyager, senior manager of smart metering and network operations at BC Hydro, and Itron’s own Marina Donovan, vice president of global marketing and public affairs. The panel discussed how to build a culture of gender equality, diversity and the importance of mentorship programs. This was the first year a man was a panelist, and Dave provided great insight on how men can be a part of the trend in supporting women in leadership in our industry.

The event highlighted that by coming together as a community,
we can create real change in the industry.

IUW 2019 Day Two: Promoting Purpose

The general session for day two at IUW 2019 was just as encaptivating as day one. Afdhel Aziz, one of the world’s leading experts in marketing innovation and the power of purpose, shared his thoughts on what it means to find the power of purpose in our work, and how we can use this to do good in the world. Passionate about brands and culture as forces for good, he is the co-author of the book ‘Good is the New Cool: Market Like You Give a Damn’, which set the foundation for his discussion about how purpose drives business and social impact.

Aziz left the crowd inspired to dig deep and analyze how we can unlock purpose in our businesses and ourselves. He emphasized these seven principles:

  • Learn your purpose
  • Find your allies
  • Think of people as citizens, not just consumers
  • Lead with the cool
  • Don’t advertise, solve problems
  • People are the new media
  • Back up the promise with the proof

During the general session, we also announced ConEd as the winner of the first inaugural Itron Innovator Award.

Similar to how Aziz affirmed the idea that businesses can be a force for good by balancing profit with the needs of consumers, the next session of the day focused on how we can use investments in technology to help communities in need during natural disasters.

Big Picture Session: Grid Modernization and Resiliency Amid Natural Disasters

One of the most engaging discussions at IUW was Tuesday’s Big Picture Session, which explored how grid modernization and resiliency are helping utilities and cities respond to natural disasters in ways they never have before. Industry expert Jennifer Runyon lead the compelling conversation, which gave the audience a chance to glean insights from a trifecta of industry experts, which included:

  • Michael Putt, director of smart grid innovation, Florida Power & Light (FPL)
  • Joe Vale, director of AMI operations, Duke Energy
  • Matt Smith, senior director of grid management, Itron

Since 1970, the number of disasters worldwide has more than quadrupled to around 400 a year, according to the United Nations. Just in 2018 alone, there were 14 natural disasters that cost more than $1 billion in restoration. Now, more than ever, utilities and cities need to be prepared to handle natural disasters.

Putt kicked off the conversation by providing real-world examples of natural disasters that impacted FPL’s operations. He recalled how much the utility learned from the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy. It led FPL to analyze how they deal with flooding in their system, which resulted in implementing flood mitigation technology, like flood monitors, while also stocking up on mobile equipment. During Hurricane Matthew in 2016, this technology helped FPL de-energize at the right time as the storm surged and helped lessen equipment failure.

Vale shared Duke Energy’s experience when they were heavily impacted by Hurricane Florence in September 2018 as well as Hurricane Michael in October 2018. From an AMI operations perspective, their communications infrastructure was hit hard. During Florence, 400 network communication devices went down, and during Michael, 260 devices went down. Duke Energy realized that its communications infrastructure was extremely tough and resilient, so as power was restored, the majority of devices came back online. Florence was a very long storm and within 4 to 5 days only 25 network communication devices were out.

The other big lesson they learned was that the utility is very dependent on its communications infrastructure and it is critical for the utility to communicate expectations to their customers. When they had 25 network communication devices down at the end of the storm, they realized there could be up to 25 million devices under the network that they were unable to communicate with. In AMI operations, they took this learning and changed how they communicate during storms. They are now monitoring as devices go down to find out which devices are critical for communications but may be a low priority from a power restoration perspective, which has allowed them to prioritize restoration efforts. During Hurricane Dorian, Duke Energy saw a lot of benefits from this approach as they were able to get more network devices back online faster.

Smith noted that storm recovery is a big driver in making sure Itron’s technologies, communications networks and partner products can really help utilities aid in disaster recovery. He said that Itron is seeing a lot of utilities deploy line sensors to not only pinpoint outages, but also for use in vegetation management and other disturbances on the line, which helps prioritize things like tree timing. Smith concluded by saying Itron has seen utilities step up their efforts to respond more quickly and more efficiently.

Resilience is key and today’s utility industry can connect millions of meters and smart devices that work together to help prepare, mitigate and recover from natural disasters —all while promoting the quality of life, safety and the well-being of citizens.

Getting to Yes: Helping Utilities Make the Case with Regulators

During the Big Picture Session on Monday at Itron Utility Week, NARUC President Nick Wagner and Itron’s VP of government affairs, Dan Pfeiffer, discussed the ins and outs of securing commission approval.

A decade ago, when advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)
projects were being funded with ARRA stimulus grants, securing regulatory
approval was a relatively easy request for utilities to make of their public
service commissions. Today, without those federal subsidies, regulators are
expecting more detailed plans and customer-facing benefits before approving AMI

Unfortunately, in 2018, the industry saw more AMI project
denials from regulators than approvals. Wagner attributes this to projects
deemed not in the public interest. He went on to explain that as regulators,
they have to assess all of the evidence that balances the interest of the
consumer and the utility as well as who is assuming the risk versus receiving
the rewards. Wagner noted that as regulators, they focus on what is tangible,
quantifiable and regulatable. The three dominant reasons for some of last
year’s regulatory denials include:

  • Negative cost-benefit analysis
    • Incremental costs exceeded the projected savings
    • Key assumptions were challenged
  • Not enough evidence or data presented
    • Must show that existing AMR provided
      “inadequate” services
    • Needed more detailed cost estimates for all AMI
  • Not enough customer-facing benefits (vs.
    grid-facing or utility facing)

    • Did not propose any TOU or dynamic rate
    • No public involvement process

Yet, in the face of more business case scrutiny, many AMI
projects have received commission approval and more than 50% of electric meters
in the U.S. are smart. Wagner said the commission takes their time even during
the approval process rather than make a quick decision; they want to provide
certainty and be very deliberative and thoughtful in making good decisions. He
reminded us that commissions are bound by the laws of the states they are
working in and sometimes the legislature needs time to catch up.

Wagner concludes by noting that resilience is becoming a
major part of what regulators are looking at and how they do their jobs.
Utilities will continue to adapt, and so too will regulators and markets. In
the shift to decentralized generation (DG), AMI and grid modernization has
given utilities the data to implement DG better and faster because of the
insights into their systems. Wagner predicts that we are going to see some
utilities disrupting the disruptors.

IUW 2019 Day One: The Power of Community

We kicked off Itron Utility Week (IUW) with a compelling general session lead by a strong lineup of speakers to get the Knowledge Conference started, including: Tom Deitrich, Itron president and CEO; Marina Donovan, VP of global marketing and public affairs at Itron; Sharelynn Moore, SVP of networked solutions at Itron; and Christopher Chapel, VP of customer service at Florida Power & Light.

A common theme in Monday’s general session was resourcefulness. Deitrich took the stage and reminded us that the challenges facing our industry are daunting—but not insurmountable. And to address these challenges, we need to work together. Our ability to transform the industry lies in community—in an ecosystem of like-minded companies banded together to share knowledge and learn from one another. IUW brings the best of our community together to share ideas, learn lessons and design the future we want—and need—for ourselves, our businesses and our communities. Building on the thread of resourcefulness, Deitrich went on to highlight Itron’s purpose of creating a more resourceful world. He noted three key ingredients that drive Itron’s purpose: innovation, technology and insights from data and analytics.

Sharelynn Moore, Itron’s SVP of networked solutions, took the stage next. Moore celebrated the power of solutions and called attention to Itron’s milestones, including new achievements with OpenWay Riva as well as recent and upcoming product announcements. Moore highlighted Itron’s technology, innovation and commitment to continuing to do more with data as well as the importance of networking and communications. She concluded by conveying that connecting data to value-added services will drive successful business outcomes for our customers, today and tomorrow.

Next on stage was Christopher Chapel, VP of customer service at Florida Power & Light. Chapel discussed how far the utility has come since 1988 when FPL was considered a “below-average utility.” Over the last 10 years, FPL has invested $40 million into its systems, effectively modernized their generational fleet and saved their customers nearly $10 billion. Its early adoption of key technologies has improved their customer service and enhanced their operational efficiencies. Chapel said that Itron has changed the game for FPL customers. Instead of being reactive, FPL is now proactive and predictive in a way they never thought they could be. Because of their partnership with Itron, they’ve changed the world for the better. Learn how FPL is saving sea turtles by utilizing its existing Itron wireless mesh network to monitor and control 500,000 smart streetlights.

Marina Donovan, Itron’s vice president of global marketing and public affairs, took the stage after Chapel. She validated the key takeaways from the preceding speakers by highlighting key stats from our latest research initiative, Disaster Preparedness: An Itron® Resourcefulness Insight Report, which was announced yesterday.

The report surveyed 500 consumers and 300 U.S. utility executives on disaster preparedness. The report exposes two stark and concerning realities:

  • a shared and heightened worry about a disaster striking today compared to five years ago
  • a conflicting gap across the two groups pertaining to each’s ability to prepare, respond and recover from disasters

As utilities and consumers face a new normal of frequent natural and man-made disasters, it’s become clear that through community we’ll create smarter, more vibrant and better-connected cities that remain resilient in the face of disaster.

The general session wrapped up with the Frost & Sullivan Excellence in Resourcefulness Awards where we announced the winners in energy and water and recognized their contributions to reducing the waste of energy or water resources. Congratulations to Pepco Holdings and Carlsbad Municipal Water District!

IUW19 is just getting started – stay tuned for more updates and thanks to all who’ve joined the conversation in Marco Island and remotely! We’ll be back with more updates. In the meantime, you can keep up with the #IUW19 conversation in real-time on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

What to Explore at IUW 2019: Knowledge Center Spotlight

Flights are booked, our solution and product demos are prepped, and the sunscreen is packed – it’s time for Itron Utility Week (IUW) 2019. This year’s event kicks off on Oct. 11 with pre-conference trainings and hits full steam on Oct. 13 with the Knowledge Conference.

Showcasing Itron's comprehensive solutions and partner offerings, the Knowledge Center is the place to connect with experts and learn more about our technology and partners. This year, we’re excited to share new demonstrations with IUW attendees focusing on:

  • Grid Management, which enables utilities to enhance resiliency, reliability and efficiency; extends secure grid monitoring and control; and optimizes grid operations. Within this area, attendees will learn more about Distributed Energy Management, distribution automation – featuring FLISR (fault location, isolation and service restoration) and Volt/VAR optimization – as well as grid operations and grid resiliency with demonstrations of Itron’s pole sensor solution and new Harsh Environment Bridge.
  • ERTs, together with our customers, we’ve deployed 100+ million ERTs and counting! This proven technology platform has been key to driving significant utility operational savings for decades. Check out how we’re continuing to invest in ERT technology to deliver innovation for utilities while extending the value of those assets. This station will feature Itron’s widely deployed 100-series ERTs as well as new technologies such as the 500W, 500G and OpenWay Riva Gas Disconnect.
  • Intelis Gas meter, the award-winning smart gas meter, which extends intelligence to the edge of the network, moving the gas distribution network from a one-way gas delivery mechanism to an interactive energy network that can deliver gas more safely and efficiently.
  • Temetra, a globally proven cloud-based mobile meter data collection and management solution which is expanding into the North American water market.

While you’re in the Knowledge Center, be sure to tour the Itron Experience to see how our solutions come together to deliver outcomes for utilities and smart cities. There are multiple new areas within the Itron Experience that connect to products and solutions featured in the Knowledge Center, such as:

  • Safety and AMI: Watch an interactive demonstration focusing on Itron’s methane detection and disconnect solution and follow this up with a jaunt to the gas distribution and safety station where you can learn more about how you can enhance safety and efficiency through advanced technology and services; optimize existing business processes by utilizing sensors, communications and analytics; and provide advanced asset management and increased safety to your customers.
  • Take a Load Off! Interactive Game Show: See in real time how the load disaggregation distributed intelligence (DI) application provides insight into consumer energy usage in order to help them better manage consumption. Follow this up with a trip to our distributed intelligence station to learn more about other DI applications such as high impedance detection, residential neutral fault detection, theft via meter bypass detection and Volt/Var optimization.

Also new this year—as part of Itron’s commitment to innovation, we’re exploring groundbreaking concepts using emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality, Machine Learning and Digital Twin technology. Visit us in the emerging technologies area at IUW and take a virtual walk through a Los Angeles neighborhood, change rooftop materials, add clean energy and battery storage and experience the impact to the local environment. Go inside these homes and learn how data drives energy efficiency by giving homeowners the choice to consume electricity primarily when it is available from renewable sources. Continue the virtual journey under the neighborhood, where data delivers a baseline visualization of the water distribution network. Discover how emerging technologies expand the possibilities for anomaly detection, predictive maintenance, expansion and clean energy planning. See the power of data drive the creation of digital twin networks and how virtual results inform solutions to improve the quality of life for real people in real places.

There so much to see and explore at #IUW19 – we can’t wait to see you there! Visit www.itron.com/iuw to learn more.

Prep List: Time to Get Ready for IUW 2019

Itron Utility Week (IUW) 2019 kicks off on Oct. 11 with pre-conference trainings and hits full steam on Oct. 13 with the Knowledge Conference. As you prepare for your trek to Marco Island, Florida, we’ve got all the details to help ensure your trip is a success. Be sure to keep these items in mind:

  • Download the IUW app to stay in-the-know. The IUW app is your up-to-date resource for the complete conference schedule.
  • Build your schedule ahead of time. Use the IUW app to build your schedule of everything you want to attend at the conference. Please remember that adding a session to your personal schedule does not guarantee a seat.
  • Sign up for the Itron Experience tour in the Knowledge Center. Have you ever wanted to see Itron’s solutions in action? Join us for a guided tour through our interactive demo space.
  • Volunteer at the beach cleanup. Join us Sunday morning for a volunteer beach clean-up and educational experience with JW Marriott Naturalists to learn about the natural habitat and wildlife. While we walk, we will be clearing any debris that is hazardous to help keep the beach clean and safe for the wildlife living there. Register now.
  • Join the Turtle Trot. Lace up your tennis shoes and join us to celebrate the power of community with a lively 5k (3.1 miles) race on the beach. Whether you prefer a brisk walk, casual jog or a full-on sprint, this is for everyone. Stick around afterward and take a dip in the Gulf of Mexico to cool off! Learn more here.
  • You’ll be on Eastern Time (ET). Set your watch accordingly—you don’t want to miss anything!
  • It’s going to be warm. Marco Island averages a daily maximum temperature in October that's between 70 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Conference attire is business casual. But be sure to pack your comfortable and fun beach attire for the Beach Block Party on Monday night.

We can’t wait to see you on Marco Island in a few weeks!

Want to learn more? Be sure to visit https://www.itron.com/na/events/itron-utility-week for all things IUW 2019.

IUW 2019: Connecting Our Community

Itron Utility Week (IUW) kicks off next month with a focus on the power of community—because our power to transform the industry lies in community. This simple message translates into an incredible opportunity for Itron customers looking to discover new technologies, services and operations to transform how they deliver and manage critical resources. As the utility industry’s premier customer-focused event, IUW welcomes nearly 1,000 attendees from a range of industries to connect with peers and learn about the comprehensive solutions offered by Itron and our trusted partners. This year’s event is hosted in Marco Island, Florida, Oct. 11 – 18.

The Knowledge Conference – with over 90 breakout sessions led by industry peers, two insightful keynotes, an interactive product showcase and a host of networking opportunities – is the main event at Itron Utility Week. One of this year’s big picture sessions, Getting to Yes - Helping Utilities Make the Case with Regulators, will be a fireside chat with Nick Wagner, NARUC and Dan Pfeiffer, Itron, who will focus on regulator expectations and the ins and outs of securing commission approval. Our second big picture session, Grid Modernization and Resiliency Amid Natural Disasters, will discuss how grid modernization and resiliency support cities and utilities facing natural disasters with panelists from Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light.

In addition, attendees will be able to dig in on a range of topics from four themed tracks: advanced applications and outcomes, data management, mobile and measurement solutions, and multi-purpose network solutions.

Within these tracks, the breakout sessions will span across all resources and attract utilities of all sizes. The topics within these breakouts will focus on everything from enhancing customer safety, leveraging distributed intelligence and optimizing networks to improving demand response programs, minimizing cybersecurity threats and migrating from one collection system to another.

Visit www.itron.com/iuw to learn more about this one-of-a-kind event.

Stay tuned for additional blogs throughout the next few weeks as we prepare to kick off IUW 2019!

Enabling Smarter, More Scalable Cities, Sooner – Part II

One of the most engaging discussions at Itron Utility Week (IUW) was the Big Picture Session, which explored new business models to fund and activate smart cities. We were lucky to have industry expert Jennifer Runyon lead the compelling conversation, which gave the audience a chance to glean insights from a trifecta of industry experts, which included:

  • David Graham, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Smart + Sustainable Communities, City of San Diego
  • Jim Mazurek, Accenture Strategy, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy - Utilities
  • Phil Nevels, Director Utility of the Future, ComEd - an Exelon company

There were a ton of excellent takeaways from this discussion, with four key themes emerging from the conversation. This blog post is the second in a two-part series that will recap all four themes from the Big Picture session. Still need to catch up? Read the first installment here.

III. Expect (and be open to) the unexpected
An audience member pivoted the conversation when he grabbed the mic and asked one of the tougher questions of the day: “What’s your advice on how we can best keep up with technology?”

“You’re not ever going to keep up,” Graham said. His fellow panelists smiled and nodded in acknowledgement as he went on to clarify that keeping up with technology doesn’t have to be a success criteria in this case.

“Look at dockless bikes and scooters,” he continued. “Someone came into San Diego and dropped thousands of these things all over the place. Nobody ever thought of that, and suddenly you find yourself having to react, but you don’t have to regulate. We do not regulate dockless bike or scooter shares at all - that’s shocking to some! But we’re waiting to see how it plays out. You have to set up an environment that’s accepting and fluid enough to support and adjust to the pace of technology, but you don’t have to keep up with it - you simply can’t.”

IV. Move the conversation from evangelist-centric to engineer driven
As the panel discussion came to a close, Runyon squeezed in a final question and asked panelists to comment on what they envision the industry will look like 10 years from now.

“We need to move this conversation from evangelists to engineers,” Graham said.

All three agreed and noted that 10 years from now the concept of “smart cities” will not just be one small department supported by a few. It will be a priority of the senior leaders from all sides of the conversation, and the desire to progress will permeate day-to-day activities of utilities and municipalities alike.

Graham closed out the conversation on a high note and boldly stated “Itron will be the communications juggernaut.,” As the audience laughed, he took the opportunity to make a more serious proclamation about public and private sector collaboration to the utilities in the room:

“From a longevity perspective and an efficiency perspective, utilities are in a much better place to do this [vs. cities handling themselves], and our paths to the future are so inextricably linked that 10 years from now my vision is for the CEO and the mayor working hand-in-hand to push multiple deployments followed by a continuous stream of press releases year after year, because the cities and the utilities have finally figured it out.”

Enabling Smarter, More Scalable Cities, Sooner – Part I

One of the most engaging discussions at Itron Utility Week (IUW) was the Big Picture Session, which explored new business models to fund and activate smart cities. We were lucky to have industry expert Jennifer Runyon lead the compelling conversation, which gave the audience a chance to glean insights from a trifecta of industry experts, which included:

  • David Graham, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Smart + Sustainable Communities, City of San Diego
  • Jim Mazurek, Accenture Strategy, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy - Utilities
  • Phil Nevels, Director Utility of the Future, ComEd - an Exelon company

Pairing the hands-on insights of Graham and Nevels with Mazurek — who has advised 50+ utility industry leaders on C-level topics such as industry disruption, emerging technologies, customer-focused transformation and more — gave attendees the unique experience to be a part of the dynamic discussion that can take place when cities and utilities lock arms to explore the ways connectivity can enable new business models while also enhancing the lives of the citizens who live within them.

There were a ton of excellent takeaways from this discussion, with four key themes emerging from the conversation. This blog post is the first in a two-part series that will recap all four themes from the Big Picture session.

I. Maintain a “citizen-first” mentality to move the needle
Runyon’s first question focused on how to build effective public/private partnerships, and the panelists articulated their advice by offering a couple of examples, including the City of Amsterdam and Chicago’s Bronzeville Community of the Future.

Mazurek noted that Amsterdam has a progressive and unique approach to smart city deployments, describing the government’s role as similar to a “matchmaker,” pairing three audiences — innovators, investors and infrastructure owners — with one another. “They’ve also got their act together when it comes to cultivating and activating an open data platform; it allows them to monetize the information and subsequently subsidize the cost of infrastructure.” His fellow panelists agree that the best examples of public/private partnerships are those where everyone’s a winner, including municipalities, utilities and most importantly, people.

A follow up question on best practices came from the audience, calling on Nevels - who led the Bronzeville Community of the Future project, and asked him to share any partnership best practices he’s learned since working on the Chicago Microgrid Demonstration.

Nevels responded by sharing that the collective team took an equity- and accessibility-first mentality, noting, “as we look at smart cities, they can’t just be subsets of the population; it needs to be a smart city for all. Everyone needs equal access to anything a smart city offers. We’re a utility company — we’re in the business of equity — that’s what we provide: the same quality of power to all 10 million of our customers across country and the structure enables us to do this affordably while making it accessible to all citizens.” He recommended that all engaged partners maintain an equity-first mindset when approaching collaborative projects.

Graham agreed and went on to expand on a powerful point he had made during that morning’s general session, “we’re here to talk about scaling — the ideas, the projects, the technology are all there, we know that, we’re at a point where it’s all about gaining community support...and it’s the people — the public — that need to be the big “P” in [public/private] partnership conversations.”

II. Don’t ditch “inside-the-box” thinking just yet - now is the time to get tactical
Nevels also recommended that utilities keep infrastructure investment in mind when it comes to new business models. “Generally thinking ‘inside-the-box’ has a negative connotation, but what if you can make that ‘box’ bigger? We - as people - default to a need for new products and new services when discussing new revenue models and that is one very viable avenue to take. However, we don’t want to exclude the idea of investing in infrastructure, the same path that got us here.”

Nevels gave an example of fiber implementation to further his point and explained how the opportunity to lease fiber back to private entities as an example of a new revenue stream that could bring down total costs for everyone. “It’s a win, win,” he said.

As the conversation continued, it became clear that actionable, tactical ideas that offer high community impact will be most effective. But what about speed? A question from the audience requested that the panelists share their best examples of quick wins that utilities and municipalities can hang their hats on as they work to demonstrate the value of smart city technology.

Graham was eager to jump in and noted “streetlights is a big one — there’s so much scaling that can be done.”

Mazurek agreed and elaborated further on the benefits smart lighting solutions can offer: “If you haven’t fully harvested the value of smart street lighting and you want a quick, high-impact win, this is a slam dunk. The slam dunk business case is the immediate cost savings associated with electricity, but there’s so much more to it - the opportunities are nearly limitless when you think of everything you can put on top.”

Read on for two more insightful themes in Part II.

IUW18 Day II: Turning Expert Insights into an Actionable Approach

Nearly 1,200 attendees reconvened this morning ready to absorb all that they could during the last day of our Knowledge Conference at one of our largest Itron Utility Weeks (IUW) yet!

Our high-impact speakers, engaged attendees and innovative partners kept up Monday’s momentum throughout day two, which started with inspiration from David Graham, deputy COO for smart and sustainable communities at the City of San Diego.

Miss day 1? You can get the rundown on the kickoff to our annual event here.

Graham took the stage and touted his obsession with future-driven conversations before taking us for a quick trip back in time to revisit the predictions made by earlier generations of tech industry innovators. While he had us laughing at some of the more outlandish ones – including red flying robots taking over the world – we were equally impressed by a few hypotheses that align closely with some of today’s most promising innovations from the tech sector.

Graham, who led the City of San Diego’s strategic and successful installation of thousands of smart streetlights in 2014, went on to say, “who could have predicted that we’d have streetlights that could see, smell and hear?!”

And while his infectious enthusiasm had captured the attention of the whole room, he used his IUW platform to share an important message. He acknowledged that while out-of-the-box “Star Trek-esque” discussions are both inspiring and important, it’s critical that utilities and municipalities lock arms and focus on actionable discussions that allow them to explore the opportunities that matter here and now to their communities.

“These [smart street lighting solutions] are the technologies that are far more transformative than anything I showed a few minutes ago,” Graham proclaimed. “This kind of connectivity is what will change the ways we live and have lasting impacts on the way we exist. The future is happening and [utility companies] are making it happen.”

He referenced an app that was launched under his leadership, “Get It Done San Diego” to illustrate another way that the city is taking advantage of connectivity to improve the lives of citizens in the ways that matters most to them; while also eliminating the inefficiencies that had challenged the local government and utility companies.

“Technology is so cool, but if we forget about the people in the city and what’s most important to them, we’ve already forgotten what becoming a smart city is all about. We have to put people first.”

As Graham wrapped-up his presentation, Itron CEO Philip Mezey joined him on stage for a fireside chat focused on a few hot-button topics related to smart cities, including grid data and security as well as potential business models and driving smart city conversations for action.

Mezey asked Graham to explain how he addresses concerns about cyber threats in connectivity conversations. He responded by articulating the way he and his city have shifted their collective mindset on the topic:

“We talk about the importance of building resilient cities all of the time, and this is no different. Unfortunately, it’s not about whether you’ll get attacked; it’s about how quickly you can recover once it happens. We need to change the public perception and you do that by taking the appropriate measures to prepare in advance.”

Mezey pivoted the conversation to focus on measurable outcomes, asking how Graham and his team establish key performance indicators (KPIs). Graham underscored the importance of aligning KPIs with citizen pain points and explained how he is launching programs like The Free Ride, a shuttle service that uses electric vehicles to help people get around. He is directly addressing KPIs attached to citizen challenges, and - in this case - the results achieved also include greater sustainability, less traffic congestion and a direct solution to the “last-mile” struggle so many cities face.

For more on business models and driving conversations for action, stay tuned for Tuesday’s Big Picture session, where Graham elaborated on these topics during a panel discussion that also included some of our other progressive customers and partners.

IUW18 Packs a Serious and Sustainable Punch: Day I Recap

Itron Utility Week (IUW) kicked off in high-gear yesterday, and the General Session presenters set the pace with a compelling kickoff!

We had a strong lineup of speakers to get the week started, including: Itron CEO Philip Mezey; Luis Frisby, who oversees the Central Arizona Division of Southwestern Gas Corporation, and Marina Donovan, Itron vice president of global marketing and public affairs.

Transformation was a common thread throughout these initial presentations. However, IUW 2018 has offered new, compelling and – most importantly – actionable insights for utilities and municipalities to work from. The speakers zeroed-in on the areas where utilities and municipalities need to focus in order to maximize the impact of their efforts, as we look toward 2019 and beyond.

Itron CEO Philip Mezey took the stage where he covered what it takes to spark meaningful transformation in the utility industry. He spent time defining what “transformation” really means for the utility industry, reminding attendees that “we can’t get to transformation if we can’t fulfill our duty of delivering clean, reliable energy and water.”

He intentionally noted the greater challenges associated with achieving this transformation and highlighted that this transformational, global shift will have a wide-reaching impact; not only on utilities and municipalities, but on consumers of energy and water as well.

In short: truly achieving “transformation” is no walk in the park. But you all knew that, right?

And in the same breath he articulated our entire team’s sense of accountability in sharing that Itron is “moving beyond metering to enable smart cities, outcome-based solutions and the future of IIoT.”

Our CEO also set the tone for this week by sending us off with a bold message that underscored Itron’s confidence in the entire industry and noted that despite the challenges associated with antiquated infrastructure and widespread scarcity that plague the industry - we have no doubt in our shared ability to help our customers overcome these challenges, especially given the fast-paced innovation the industry has achieved; even in this past year alone. As he noted, “together, we have the opportunity to accelerate innovation.”

And with that, we headed into #IUW18!

Luis Frisby, the VP who oversees the Central Arizona Division of Southwestern Gas Corporation, took the stage next. He drew a clear line of sight between what Mezey articulated by sharing real-world examples of how Itron has worked with Southwestern Gas Corporation to optimize efficiencies with smart metering technology and real-time data insights, a couple of key insights that stood out include:

  • Since 1996, Itron has helped us to reduce 736 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually
  • More than 1.3 million miles of unnecessary driving (i.e., truck rolls) have been saved as a result of this collaboration thanks to the 160 vehicles taken off the road, enabling greater efficiency and enhancing sustainability

Marina Donovan, our vice president of global marketing and public affairs, took the stage after Frisby. She validated the key takeaways from the preceding speakers by highlighting key stats from our latest research initiative, the Itron Resourcefulness Report, which was also announced yesterday.

The report analyzed opinions of more than 1,000 utility executives plus more than 1,000 consumers and – while there were many intriguing findings in the robust analysis – Donovan focused on the core themes which centered around assessing the current risks, taking a shared approach to resourcefulness and the keys to a more resourceful future for our global community.

She also emphasized that the path to optimizing efficiency is one that can’t be achieved in a silo. As noted in our latest report, the next generation of resourcefulness will require the establishment of rock-solid alliances between all parties, from utility companies, to municipalities, device manufacturers, carriers and consumers alike.

The general session wrapped up with the Frost & Sullivan Excellence in Resourcefulness Awards where we announced the winners in energy and water and recognized their contributions to reducing the waste of energy or water resources. Congratulations to Pepco Holdings and City of Bismarck!

The rich insights shared during our general session, which concluded around 9:30 a.m. MST, seemed like enough to pack a full day! But #IUW18 is just getting started – stay tuned for more updates and thanks to all who’ve joined the conversation in Scottsdale and remotely! We’ll be back with more updates. In the meantime, you can keep up with the #IUW18 conversation in real-time on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Frost & Sullivan Lauds Pepco Holdings and City of Bismarck with Excellence in Resourcefulness Awards at Itron Utility Week

Frost & Sullivan announced today Pepco Holdings and the City of Bismarck, North Dakota's water utility as the recipients of this year's Excellence in Resourcefulness Awards for energy and water. The annual awards honor companies that have demonstrated their commitment and ability to significantly reduce energy and water use based on a recent and successful technology implementation. The achievements of these utilities were recognized during Itron Utility Week in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Pepco Holdings includes Atlantic City Electric in southern New Jersey, Delmarva Power in Delaware and Maryland, and Pepco in Maryland and the District of Columbia. The companies deliver clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy service to more than 2 million electric and natural gas customers. Pepco Holdings was recognized for its Energy Wise Rewards program, which is one of the most successful and widely recognized demand response programs in the industry. The program allows the utilities to remotely cycle more than 400,000 air conditioners and heat pumps on and off for short periods during peak energy periods.

"The program's impressive penetration rate of 60 percent among eligible customers in Maryland is a true testament to the trust that Atlantic City Electric, Delmarva Power and Pepco have gained with their customers," Farah Saeed, Research Director Digital Grids at Frost & Sullivan. "Through the Energy Wise Rewards program, these utilities are walking the path to becoming premier energy customer partners."

The City of Bismarck, North Dakota's water utility completed a major network improvement in 2017 to ensure all customer meters were smart meters. The utility modernized its system with Itron's advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and Itron Analytics, which delivers advanced analysis and insight. With these upgrades, the utility changed the way local residents and the city government understood water management and utility operations, which has allowed the city to bill customers with accurate consumption and track usage and/or loss throughout the system..

Frost & Sullivan believes, the City of Bismarck has delivered exceptional results through its strategic investments in advanced solutions that resourcefully manage its water supplies.

"The winners of this year's Frost & Sullivan's Excellence in Resourcefulness Awards both succeeded in creating commendable programs that manage water and energy more resourcefully. Pepco Holdings implemented a highly successful demand response program that improved overall customer satisfaction and optimized energy efficiency, which distinguished them as a clear winner in the energy category," said Saeed. "The City of Bismarck obtained impressive water reduction results from their AMI implementation and analytics solution, making them the exemplary winner in the water category."

As a part of the selection process, Frost & Sullivan conducted in-depth research and interviews, and evaluated utilities against industry best practices and the decision criteria, including societal impact and business impact for each category. Indicators for societal impact included improving customer awareness and participation; enabling behavioral change to reduce waste through customer engagement and technology-driven programs; and yielding impressive waste reduction results that benefit the overall served community. Indicators for business impact included drafting a clear vision to address excessive waste through technology implementation; achieving operational effectiveness as a result of successful strategy for sustainability; and strengthening a utility's brand image as a leader for sustainability.

Read the press release here.

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