Study tracks investment in smart grid, transmission

Ellicott City, Md., January 22, 2010 — Initial findings from the January 2010 Newton-Evans global tracking study of electric power transmission and distribution investment are somewhat positive, compared with the most recent tracking study from July 2009.

Each of five smart grid component areas, plus transmission and distribution infrastructure development, has been reported by utilities located in more than 25 countries to more likely be either “increased” or “unchanged” rather than “decreased” from January of last year.

The highest percentages of officials reporting increases were in the areas of protection and control, and transmission infrastructure CAPEX budgets.

The biggest decrease in CAPEX outlays for 2010 is reported to be in distribution infrastructure, based on the first 50 replies received and tabulated. O&M budgets reflect a somewhat different story.

Most categories of O&M spending were less likely to see an increase from the budgets of a year ago.

Distribution appears to be the key victim, with 17 percent of the respondents indicating a lower figure budgeted for 2010 O&M expense or distribution network operations and engineering.

The survey also requested utility officials to provide the reasons for their CAPEX plans, looking into the rationale for change in year-over-year budget plans.

In summary, smart grid initiatives were cited as being more important factors than either regulatory mandates or government stimulus programs.

Likewise, decreases in CAPEX budgets were reported to be caused first and foremost by the economic outlook for 2010, a more important factor than regulatory mandates.

However, with the recent example of FPL pulling back some $10 billion in multi-year CAPEX spending because of unfavorable regulatory decisions, these can become influential in states with key rulings this year.

 

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