We know our customers want safe and reliable electric and natural gas service. However, we also know that their expectations continue to evolve, and they are expecting more from every company they interact with, including their electric and natural gas utility company. That’s why it’s imperative that we evolve to meet these changing needs and apply advancements in innovation to do so.
Several years ago, we embarked on a project to replace every electric meter for each of our 1.6 million electric customers and install an advanced communication network to create a smart electric grid. This work created the backbone of a system that will allow customers to have increased control over their energy usage, and for PECO to offer new products and services to meet their evolving needs.
Innovative work, like our smart grid project, is critical to meeting the needs of our customers and to powering the Greater Philadelphia region. As we look toward the future, we are focused on applying this same level of ingenuity in everything we do, whether that be supporting the proliferation of electric vehicles or encouraging customers to use energy more efficiently.
During my more than 30-year career in the energy utility industry, I’ve seen innovation accelerate exponentially. More innovation has occurred in the industry in the last five years than it has in all the previous years combined. I fully expect this rapid advancement of innovation and technology to continue in the future, bringing new benefits to customers.- Mike Innocenzo, President and CEO
Just imagine a home that knows your daily patterns and can adjust energy usage. Or, an electric vehicle that knows when energy prices are lowest and automatically charges itself. It seems like something out of a sci-fi movie, but it may be closer to reality than we might think. This type of future will require an immense amount of innovation. It will also require a forward-thinking energy utility.
As Pennsylvania’s largest electric and natural gas utility, serving the Greater Philadelphia region, we have a commitment to providing safe and reliable electric and natural gas service to more than 2.2 million combined customers. Our area includes some of the largest commercial businesses in the state, from financial centers, to pharmaceuticals, to data centers. Companies that are driving innovation in their own right, and require reliable power to keep their operations moving forward.
The work to power our region requires significant investment in our systems – approximately $500 million on an annual basis – to ensure they are operating safely and efficiently. While this includes traditional preventive maintenance and inspections of our poles, wires, and pipes, it also includes innovative investments in our smart grid technology, in devices that can help restore power faster when an outage occurs, and projects and data analytics to ensure we have enough energy to meet our customers’ increasing needs.
These investments are laying the groundwork for the future, where our lives will continue to be more connected and will rely heavily on electrification projects that will define the landscape.
At PECO, we’re working with public and private entities, policymakers, and elected officials to create a new framework for how an energy utility operates within Pennsylvania, to support a vision for the future, which includes everything from renewable energy like solar, to microgrids and battery storage, to alternative fuel vehicles. This includes reducing the barriers to solar power, lowering the cost of natural gas expansion, and promoting the proliferation of transportation electrification projects.
THE FUTURE OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Electric Vehicles (EVs), once merely a pipe-dream for environmental enthusiasts, are now a reality, with new models being offered from nearly every major car manufacturer, which are less expensive than their predecessors. Industry forecasts expect the future worldwide growth of EVs to reach several million in the next 10 years. However, without the appropriate infrastructure, it may hinder the industry in achieving its potential. That’s why PECO is working to create a framework where Pennsylvania utilities support the development of regional transportation electrification projects with independent experts to cost-effectively create EV charging networks. In addition, we’re working to provide EV owners with opportunities for cost-saving charging rates. The goal: to keep the EV industry from running on empty and to power a cleaner transportation network for all.
ELECTRIFYING THE PORT
The electrification transportation road doesn’t end with electric vehicles. There’s a growing shift in electrification in everything from cars, trucks, and other consumer and industrial equipment. The Port of Philadelphia recently took a major step in defining the shipping landscape in the region. The first two of five new electric cranes were installed in 2018 at PhilaPort’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in Philadelphia, with the remaining cranes to be installed by 2020. One of the most innovative aspects is that they are powered by electricity, which will reduce PhilaPort’s reliance on diesel fuel and contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable environment. The cranes can also handle more cargo, contributing to increased commerce and jobs in the region.
Electrification is an important part of the evolving energy landscape and this project is a great example of how we are working to define our future. We’re excited about what the future holds for the energy industry and what we can accomplish by harnessing the power of innovation.