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With Urbanization, an Opportunity for Utilities and Cities to Collaborate

By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s people will be urban dwellers, presenting utilities and cities with the opportunity (if not the urgent need) to optimize systems for the delivery and use of gas, water, electricity, transportation, and heat. An EPRI paper points to ways for electric utilities and cities to work together to address the influx of people and the potential for strained city services and power systems—particularly in light of urban load growth and the drive to electrify transportation and heating.

Utilities can deploy smart grid infrastructure and integrate distributed energy resources, dovetailing with emerging “smart city” initiatives that use digital technologies to integrate urban systems. Long term, more integrated planning and operations will be needed among these systems.

While smart grid technologies can help enable communications and coordination across city services, the authors note that innovative business models, regulation, and commercial mechanisms also will be needed for effective integration.

Artwork by Kirk Anderson