Call for change

In early 2021, with the COVID-19 pandemic weighing heavily on the global economy, political leaders in the United States began considering up to US$1 trillion in infrastructure stimulus funds to address recovery and growth.

While the details of the stimulus package were not yet set, it seemed highly likely that it would include funding for areas such as electric vehicles and electric grid modernization.

One major US utility wanted to be in a position to tap into these infrastructure investments. With a strong focus on investing in renewables, smart technologies and customer-focused innovations, the company knew that this funding could help further its mission of becoming a next-generation energy company.

When tech meets human ingenuity

With Accenture’s help, the company set out to build a portfolio of “stimulus ready” projects that could be presented to the US Department of Energy and other government agencies for funding consideration.

The company and Accenture began by looking at recent stimulus-funding proposals to understand what types of projects the US federal government might support. They also assessed how historical infrastructure stimulus packages had been implemented.

More than 30 potential new projects were then assessed, and the utility and Accenture ultimately developed a portfolio of 16 projects organized into four groups:

Beneficial electrification

Including projects focusing on electrical vehicle charging infrastructure and smart electrified homes and commercial buildings.

Clean energy

Including projects involving distributed energy resources such as solar power, energy storage, and sensor-based systems for managing the grid.

Resiliency and reliability

Including projects that target a more modern, modular grid and resilient communications and control strategies.

Advanced communications and analytics

Including projects that will run fiber lines to more customers to enable better communication, and the use of drones for grid inspections.

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A valuable difference

With this initiative, the utility has proactively prepared itself to access significant infrastructure funding from the government.

Armed with a portfolio of projects, the utility is better positioned to tap into stimulus funds, which it could use to improve its infrastructure, better support its business and take advantage of new opportunities in emerging fields. These funds could also help drive outcomes around 100% clean energy, job creation and equitable access to clean technologies.

It is also better prepared to have a positive impact on the communities it serves. Because of the central role that the electric grid plays in society, the portfolio of improvements could have far-ranging benefits, as grid performance enhancements and the increased use of technology and green energy provide a catalyst for job creation, economic development, community vitality, environmental protection and public health.

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