12 Power Engineering International January 2018 www.PowerEngineeringInt.com
and should be compensated for giving
access to it. At a minimum, they should get
something in exchange, such as the historical
usage data that utilities have been less
inclined to give them in the pass.
Meanwhile, smart equipment vendors and
cloud providers will likely rightly argue that,
while utilities and power providers might have
an interest in the raw data, they own the more
valuable analyzed data, which didn’t exist
until they applied algorithms to it.
And don’t expect consumers and
businesses to stay out of the debate. “Why
should we be paying for the data? Why
shouldn’t OEMs pay us, the operators, for the
data,” said Gavin Hall of Petronas Carigali,
the Malaysian oil company at a recent event
we held in London. “Perhaps we need to
change the business model.” The audience
Ultimately, we might have to take a page
out of real estate property law to resolve these
problems. In real estate, ownership is never
When you buy a home, you generally buy
it subject to easements and other restrictions.
A lease in some jurisdictions is stronger than
others. If data weren’t valuable, this debate
would not likely come up, but everyone at this
point understands the value of what can be
achieved through information. We have to
come up with ways to use it that at least aspire
to be fair and transparent.
Finally, get ready to explore new sources of
Remember a few years ago when certain
analysts were talking about the ‘utility death
spiral?’ It’s turning out to be more like a
reincarnation, with utilities developing new
lines of business. Some of the more notable
• Tennessee’s EPB has become a
broadband provider. “They are making a
tonne of money off of fber. They are using it
to pay for their smart grid improvements,”
said Neil Placer at EnerNex at a panel at
• Uniper, the German mega utility, has
received the go-ahead from management to
begin to explore interest in Tiresias, an in-house
application for predictive maintenance.
If successful, this would enable Uniper to
become a software developer. PJM has stated
it similarly wants to explore commercializing
DIMA, a feld maintenance application.
• Financial Services. Blockchain is being
discussed as a way to facilitate energy
transactions between individuals. But some
analysts and utilities are exploring ways in
which utilities could serve as a neutral clearing
house for transactions.
• Tepco is leveraging its intellectual
property developed over the years to deliver
effciency services to customers in the
Philippines and other areas outside of its
normal service territory.
We don’t know how these diversifcation
efforts will work. What we do know is that
utilities possess a great deal of knowledge
And ultimately, that might be more
valuable than electrons.
J. Patrick Kennedy is the Chief Executive
and founder of OSIsoft. www.osisoft.com
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