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Itron Inspire

Strengthening Grid Resilience to Prepare for the Unexpected and the Inevitable

Resourcefulness Insight Report

If we’ve learned anything over the last year and a half, it’s that life is unpredictable. When we released our last Resourcefulness Insight Report in 2019, there was no way to imagine what the future had in store.

One of the most obvious challenges has been navigating the worst public health crisis in over a century. COVID-19 has had devastating and far-reaching consequences, and the utility sector has not been immune to its wrath. Our already aging electrical grid was tested as energy usage patterns rapidly changed and many of the (much needed) updates to the grid were put on hold. And while the upgrades stopped, stressors such as extreme weather did not.

2021 is set to be the hottest year on record, and we’ve seen everything from wildfires in Siberia to unprecedented winter storms in Texas. While combating the effects of climate disruption will take global cooperation from both the public and private sector, utilities play an important role in lowering carbon emissions and preventing disruption when the unexpected or the inevitable occur.

This week at Itron Inspire 2021 we released the “Preparing for the Unexpected and the Inevitable: An Itron Resourcefulness Report. It’s our eighth report based on commissioned independent research with the aim to gain insights into what utility executives and consumers think about timely issues.

The 2021 Resourcefulness Insight Report summarizes key findings from surveys of 500 utility executives and 500 informed consumers from across five countries – United States, Australia, France, Germany and Indonesia. It details why modernizing energy infrastructure is the one path to achieving a resilient and reliable grid that successfully mitigates the impacts of climate disruption, minimizes interruptions from natural disasters, integrates renewables and prepares for the increased adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Key findings include:

  • 1 in 4 utility executives state pandemic-related delays have been a top barrier to investing in grid upgrades, yet natural disasters, renewables and EVs demand a more modernized grid. 
  • Utility executives are extremely/very concerned about the grid and the impact of disasters (88%), demand from EVs (85%), integrating renewables (86%) and complying with environmental mandates (90%). But while aging infrastructure and integrating renewables are top concerns now, in five years accommodating EVs (especially ensuring capacity at charging stations) will find its way to the top of the list.
  • Consumers agree with the top priorities of integrating renewables and upgrading grid infrastructure. However, they are more concerned about natural disasters (20%) than EVs (16%).
  • While consumers are less concerned than utilities about the impact of disasters and EVs on the grid, they are less confident in how prepared utilities are to manage these situations with 84% of utilities stating they are extremely/very prepared versus 47% of consumers.


There is a clear agreement on the need for grid modernization, but utility executives and consumers differ on reasoning and priorities. The research indicates that utilities are looking to the future to plan and prepare for what is coming, while consumers indicate more immediate concerns, such as climate disruption and the resulting increase in natural disasters.

There are also geographical differences. Across all five countries surveyed, there is a sense of urgency to update the grid, comply with carbon mandates and integrate renewables, but these similarities change as executives look to the future:

While the pandemic has caused unavoidable delays, we must now prioritize our resources - time and money - into accelerating grid modernization, and fast. By creating a more intelligent and resilient grid, we can address the many challenges and obstacles utilities face while opening up new opportunities for better service, better responsiveness and more sustainable growth.