By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager.
Balance is one of the attributes that Benoit Laclau brings to his new position as Global Power & Utilities Leader for EY and it was obvious when we first started talking with him there was a positive current on the line.
“I have spent half my work life in the consulting professional services industry and half in the utility industry,” said this expert whose resume boasts market entry strategies; leading global utilities on business transformation; IT transformation and cost reduction; smart metering as well as customer and billing systems transformation.
He has also worked for Andersen Consulting/Accenture and EDF Energy (part of Électricité de France S.A.) as their CIO before finally joining EY. His previous experience was a mixture of transformation projects with a specific emphasis on retail and distribution.
Necessarily, the conversation turned toward the changes the industry and traditional business
model are facing as new technologies, smarter grids, shifting demand patterns and increased generation from renewables takes hold.
“There are a number of key drivers affecting the sector at the moment. Those include the requirements to invest a significant amount of money into new infrastructure,” Laclau said adding this was a direct result of growth on the demand side and replacement of ageing assets. These new requirements can take different shapes from the need for new power stations and new grids to modernization of existing distribution networks.
There is also new technology and ways of thinking that come into play in the continuous evolution of how energy is bought, sold and distributed. Laclau explains:
“Digitization is having a significant influence on the consumer and the way they want to interact with the energy company. There is also a significant push for a low carbon society and the corresponding push on the renewable side.”
Laclau will succeed Alison Kay who is now the Global Vice Chair, Industry at EY and he will continue to work with several clients as a senior advisory partner. He also points out that one of the other drivers changing the face of the utilities industry is one that is familiar to many other businesses in that regulators in many geographies are becoming more and more demanding.
According to Laclau, these regulators are taking several approaches.
“They are getting more demanding to either reduce consumption, carbon emissions, price or to make sure the overall quality improves.”
He finishes by placing all the key challenges the utilities sector faces under one roof.
“The industry needs to manage the balance of affordability, sustainability and security of supply while managing the shift from centralized to distributed generation capacity.”