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February 9, 2022

How Ready Are You for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act?

Gary Hayes

Gary Hayes

Chief Solutions Officer

The White House Briefing room released on January 14, 2022 a Fact Sheet outlining the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by the President on November 15, 2021. The information is a “status report” of the Plan 60 days and running. The key areas outlined and explained are:

  • Roads, Bridges and Transportation
  • Water Infrastructure
  • High Speed Internet
  • Clean Energy & Environment Remediation

While we all recognize there will be a lot of governmental, regulatory, and public/private entities that must work through the politics, procedures, applications and funding to facilitate the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), I am excited for our industry and its customers to start the wheels turning on this national effort.

Why the excitement? I was fortunate to see the utility and customer benefits associated with the Smart Grid Investment Grant program (as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) and how those investments accelerated the transformation of the industry and the benefits to the customers. The operational and customer technologies that emerged from the Smart Grid achieved targeted benefits and provided the foundation and learnings that we can apply to this next wave of focused national investments. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to:

  • Rejuvenate, improve, strengthen, and secure our existing infrastructures
  • Build new infrastructure to meet demands today and a new clean future.   A future that will meet the critical demands of not only its customers, but an objective of higher levels of manageability, maintainability, reliability, and safety for utility systems
  • Transform our industry to provide alternative transportation and customer energy solutions. Providing clean water and sustainable utility infrastructure for generations to come
  • Provide for a “digital and intelligent utility” with a communications system that unites customers across the diversity of our nation while providing the system capabilities to achieve the objectives outlined above
  • Achieve a “step-function” and embrace new approaches to existing problems, leverage intuitive technologies to transform to these new technologies while achieving the goals of this investment
  • Enthuse a new and diverse generation of people who will join in to achieve this transformation to deliver sustainability for the future

So, quite a list! Now where do “we, the industry” start? ( And start now to get the greatest benefit of this 5-year plan?)

During my time at Deloitte Consulting, Cathleen Benko, former vice chair of Deloitte Consulting and F. Warren McFarlan, Senior Associate Dean and Albert H. Gordon Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School co-authored a book called “Connecting the Dots” which focuses on why and how organizations must align internally for greater focus and responsiveness. In my personal experience with the complexities of organizations, programs, projects, as well as day-to-day work, I often utilized two key principles from the book: “house in order” and “common threads”.

A “house in order” function displays a change-ready, rather than a change-weary, mind-set. It provides the behaviors, systems and tools that allow the function to listen to its constituents, its markets, its industry, and itself, in an environment where the "art of the possible" keeps changing. Before embarking on critical or transformative efforts one must reflect first on “what do I need to do to get ready and prepared for the effort ahead?” If a critical component of success project management, for example, do I need to put project management improvements into place? If there are process / procedure deficiencies or challenges with the underlying technologies, how do I take actions to “remediate, bolster, and/or change”? As you look to the objectives of the Infrastructure Plan, what are the “house in order” efforts that need to be put in place to drive success?

How do you leverage the concept of “Common Threads”? In my four decades of focusing the execution of work, people, processes, and technologies in utilities, I can always count on hearing why one team, group, organization, sector, utility and/or industry is different and has to be different. Yes, we all recognize there are nuances and even requirements that require some of these differences. However, to improve efficiencies, scale, and speed-to-deliver, we must identify, leverage and capitalize on the “Common Threads” across the way we work and serve our customers. These common threads are often hidden among processes, projects, and day-to-day work that can be reused, extended, or leveraged for added value and speed of delivery. Re-use (or extension) allows use of proven components – reducing risk, increasing speed of development, and reducing cost. To be agile! Generally, in the core of financial, work management, supply chain processes there are numerous common threads that can be leveraged across the organizations enterprise and our industry families. By the way, isn’t leveraging commonality the power of the app on the phone or the solution in the cloud?

We have all been challenged to transform our industry to achieve new levels of performance – performance for a sustainable future for generations to come. Let’s get ready to deliver the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). What “House in Order” activities do we need put in place to be ready to deliver? What “Common Threads” can we leverage – or need to implement – in order to scale to these efficiencies and ensure the sustainable result?

Beginning with this article, the team at Utegration will explore the answers for these questions.   Our entire organization is focused on “Connecting Utilities to the Future,” so we are watching the trends and developing solutions that ensure success. As such, we plan to highlight the opportunities we see for “house in order” activities and to identify the “common threads” your organization faces in this and many related challenges. We will also provide you with insights about the products, accelerators and tools we have developed which have incorporated those “common threads” so your utility can achieve scale, speed-to-delivery and lower total cost of ownership.

It’s true that not every organization will pursue the grants associated with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. But it’s also true that every organization can benefit from greater alignment of resources, getting their “house in order” and identifying the “common threads” to achieve their goals.

 

Reference Notes/Sources:   

The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was signed it into law on November 15, and promises to overhaul US transportation, communications and energy systems as the country adapts to climate change. IIJA includes $47 billion in climate resilience measures and $65 billion in clean energy—including  including grid-related investments—over a five-year period. This is seen as an important step towards achieving net-zero by 2050—something the US pledged at COP26 in Glasgow. In addition, President Biden signed an executive order on December 8 that requires the US federal government to reduce its emissions by 65%, run on carbon-free electricity by 2030, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.   

What the US infrastructure bill means for natural gas and low-carbon tech [Gas in Transition] (naturalgasworld.com) 

FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Hits the Ground Running 60 Days into Infrastructure Implementation | The White House