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IIJA from the Utility Perspective: Perceptions, Priorities and Complexities

Itron IIJA Survey Results

Signed into law In November 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) aims to drive infrastructure modernization, accelerate the deployment of clean energy, lower greenhouse gas emissions and increase consumer-driven sustainability efforts. To fully maximize the benefits, utilities need to know what they are eligible for and understand where IIJA fits in to their organizations goals, current projects and customer expectations

To better gauge where U.S. utilities are in this process, and to get a snapshot of overall awareness, interest and intent to pursue IIJA funding, Itron surveyed 75 U.S. utility executives in October 2022. Survey participants included mid-level managers or higher who have input on decision-making in the electric, gas and water utility space and are responsible for selling products, working in operations, strategic planning, customer service and/or administrative services.

Here are the highlights:

  • 69% of utility executives intend on pursuing IIJA funding while 21% do not, and 9% are unsure.
  • Accelerating existing projects (33%) and advancing strategic initiatives (30%) are among the top priorities for utility executives who are interested in pursuing IIJA funding. 

  • The top concerns utility executives have about the IIJA process include a lack of support from customers around projects that could increase rates (29%) and a lack of funding (25%).

  • 96% say their state commissions have not informed them about IIJA funding opportunities. Survey participants reported finding out through federal government online sources (22%); trade organization online sources (21%); trade organization personal contacts (20%) and vendor/supplier websites (4%).

  • Utility executives anticipate IIJA will accelerate grid resiliency (19%), cleaner water (17%) and cleaner air (14%). 

  • Survey participants are looking to fund projects related to electricity (61%), smart cities (24%) and water (15%).

  • The top smart city priorities indicated by 15% of utility executives are EV charging and traffic management. Additional priorities include flood/rain monitoring, water conservation/quality, streetlights, electronic signage and clean energy (12%).

  • The top electricity priorities include technology (13%), community partnerships with schools or transit districts (12%), security improvements (9%), R&D (8%) and EV infrastructure management (7%).

  • The top water priorities indicated by 11% of utility executives include distribution repairs, monitoring/controlling quality of water supply and technology. Additional priorities include water rights information systems, data sharing/water accounting software for supply and demand (9%).

Furthermore, the data shows that utility executives are unsure how to apply funding to existing projects, map the benefits for both ratepayers and their communities and manage perceptions on potential cost increase. However, opportunities in grid resiliency (DOE), electrification (DOT) and management of water supply (EPA) look promising in the acceleration of already-vetted projects.

What comes next?

There’s no question that IIJA marks an exciting milestone in the energy industry, but it only matters if utilities are equipped to take advantage of it. Itron can help utilities do just that. By lending our insights, technology, services and solutions, we can help you navigate and leverage IIJA to address your utility’s needs, enhance existing projects and explore the possibilities

Read the full IIJA survey results here. To learn more about the IIJA, visit www.itron.com/iija.