Many paths must be followed for an updated grid and electric service. A grid in service now must be modernized while operating. That is a challenge and takes a utility that has superior planning skills, the ability to listen, manage its resources well.

ECC has written about this, and it is why this column – Too Many Electric Utilities Risk Obsolescence If They Don’t Modernize – caught our eye. It appeared in Forbes. (Note that the column is a paid placement, but still rings true.)

We hear this elsewhere, too. “Smart grid security, power system generation and distribution side complications, integration of renewable energy systems, storage devices, modern equipment, and technologies make modern-day power generation and transmission more complex than ever. Thus, the utility grid requires major renovations and upgraded protection schemes to adapt to these changes.” That is from the worldwide technical power industry group, IEEE.

Customers are going to be the catalyst for change because they have more influence than they may realize. Consumers need to make sure they are heard.

Utilities that are intelligent will respond as entrepreneurial sources, becoming a customer’s preferred service provider, not just the traditional supplier. For instance, “When a customer wants to install solar or wind equipment on its premises, the utility should be the first resource that customer calls,” said the Forbes/Oracle column. “Not only is the utility the expert, the best source of advice, but it can also offer additional maintenance services, including a program to buy excess capacity when available.”

It is more than electric power in the future say the Forbes column. “New technology is taking utilities at warp speed down a path many have never been down before. … now that utilities can get to know each consumer’s expectations and opinions and feelings, because she or he is communicating those sentiments widely and loudly through social media channels, it’s a different ballgame in terms of customer interaction.”

The question for electric customers is whether their utility is making these changes to keep their service up-to-date.