Utilities have in general not been IT innovators. But the accelerating adoption of smart-grid technologies by utilities is resulting is driving the need for greater IT awareness and skills in the electric power industry. Large utilities have the requisite IT skills in house. Small utilities typically don't and outsource their IT development or adopt SaaS solutions. Medium-sized utilities fall in between. Now regulators appear to be ready to provide financial encouragement to push utilities to improve their IT capacity. Cloud-based computing is perceived by regulators as providing a way to future-proof IT investment in the rapidly changing smart grid world.
At Distributech 2017 Oracle released the results of a survey of utility industry regulators. Oracle Utilities and Zpryme surveyed 76 utility regulatory staff and commissioners in the U.S. What they found was that more than three quarters of the respondents believe that regulators should play some role in determining whether utilities use the cloud. 69% of U.S. regulators support capitalizing cloud-based software, which is a way to use accounting to encourage utilities to invest in cloud-based software. A third of the regulators have a specific and comprehensive strategy for utility cloud investment. The most significant benefit of cloud computing the respondents identified was improved flexibility.