2014 was a year of significant change for utilities. From big mergers to the emergence of new, disruptive technologies, utilities have seldom faced so many challenges and innovations to their traditional mode of operations. Indeed, at the end of 2014 it's difficult to say what the default model of a utility is, much less what it will be in the future.
That theme is reflected well here at Utility Dive in our most read stories of 2014. Despite the huge regulatory announcements of the year, like the unveiling of the game-changing Clean Power Plan from the EPA, UD readers showed the most interest not in policy developments, but in the evolution of the utility business model.
Here's a rundown of the ten most read stories on Utility Dive this year:
Back in May, Claire Cameron took a good, long look at the Empire State's audacious REV (Reforming the Energy Vision). She found, in the words of New York's chief regulator Audrey Ziebelman, that "business as usual just doesn't cut it anymore."
The most recent article on the list, NextEra's surprise acquisition of Hawaii's biggest utility earlier this month raised some big questions about distributed energy and the utility business model in the island state.
With some areas on Oahu coping with nearly 20% penetration of rooftop solar, Hawaii has been in the spotlight all year. In this article from May, Davide Savenije and Claire Cameron dive deep into the policies creating a "new paradigm" for energy generation and distribution in the Aloha state.
Warren Buffet made headlines early in the year for saying he would look to acquire more electric utilities in 2014. But why do that at a time when the utility business model looks so uncertain? Ethan Howland took a look at the Sage of Omaha's thinking.
Nearly a year ago Davide Savenije and Ethan Howland polished up their crystal balls and put forth their predictions for utilities in 2014. From load growth projections to net metering debates, did they get the year right? You be the judge.
2014 saw the further liberalization of marijuana laws in the United States, but what do all those new growing operations mean for power demand and electric utilities? Ethan Howland took a look at how utilities are working with growers to increase efficiency and save everyone money.
In this era of rampant utility consolidation, how's one to keep track of who's on top? Utility Dive broke down the biggest utilities by customer base back in August of 2012, but it remained popular enough among readers this year to capture the number four spot.
Long before the Sony hack, utility insiders and policymakers were concerned about the effects of both cyber and physical attacks on the American electric grid. What would it take to black out the U.S. coast to coast? Davide Savenije and Ethan Howland broke it down back in March.
Electricity prices can vary wildly depending on your state and its energy policies. So where is power most expensive and why? Davide Savenije found out in August.
How is Google positioning itself to be the next big disruption in energy markets nationwide, and is it a threat to utilities? Davide Savenije broke it all down in his classic feature piece, the most read Utility Dive story of all time.