The industry faces a complex challenge: managing a revenue downturn while meeting the demands of its technology-conscious consumers. Everywhere in the industrialized world, the electric power and utilities sector finds itself pulled to economize and pushed to innovate — two goals that might seem to conflict, but that are actually in harmony. The pull comes from a prolonged downturn in consumer energy revenue on both sides of the Atlantic.
End-use electricity consumption declined in 22 out of 28 E.U. countries between 2005 and 2014, according to Eurostat. In the U.S., the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that the electricity sales growth rate since 2002 has hovered around 1 percent or less per year, and demand has declined in five of those years. That’s a steep drop from growth rates that were well above 2 percent for much of the 1980s and 1990s. The rise in demand for electricity has been consistently lower than general economic growth in recent years.