Most of the U.S. energy infrastructure predates the turn of the 20th century. From transmission and distribution lines to generation plants, everything was constructed in the 1950s and 1960s with a 50-year life expectancy. Following the devastating natural disasters in 2017 resulting in power outages, the value for modern, reliable and resilient infrastructure is highlighted.
Another risk at hand is cyberattacks on the electric grid. In an Accenture report, more than 63 percent of utility executives see this to be a major threat within the next five years. To further reinforce the security of the U.S. energy infrastructure from cyber threats and natural storms, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced in 2018 the launch of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) new Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response, and is expected to receive $96 million in funding within President Trump’s budget.
More and more utilities are turning to virtual power plants to defer expensive investment in aging infrastructure. By tapping into aggregated distributed resources such as energy storage and energy management, utilities are developing demand-response programs that can be used to shift electricity demand. Shifting energy load reduces the amount of power high-users on the grid and reduces the need to build out the network.