Today Oracle announced the results of the “Smart Grid Challenges & Choices: Utility Executives’ Vision for the New Decade” research report, which surveyed 150 North American C-level utility executives to understand their vision for the next 10 years, how the smart grid will evolve in our communities and homes, and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead.

When asked to select their top two smart grid priorities over the next 10 years, utilities executives put improving service reliability (45 percent) and implementing smart metering (41 percent) at the top of the list.

However, only one in five respondents noted they are moving forward with system-wide smart grid deployment. Forty-nine percent of large utilities (with more than 100,000 customers) and 18 percent of small- to mid-sized utilities (with fewer than 100,000 customers) are taking steps forward with trial programs.

Nearly all respondents noted that consumers will benefit from smart grid. Eighty-six percent of large utilities and 82 percent of small- to mid-sized utilities said that smart grid will provide consumers with energy usage information that will enable smarter choices.

However, when asked to note the most troublesome issues that keep them up at night, executives identified consumer reactions to rate increases (43 percent) as their top worry.

Utility executives recommended “sharing best practices with peers” and “developing an information architecture strategy” as the top drivers for smart grid success.

“Utilities recognize that smart grid will transform every aspect of their business – from infrastructure management to service delivery to outage restoration to customer care. Oracle’s ‘Smart Grid Challenges & Choices’ report indicates that though utilities executives believe that smart grid will bring great benefits to consumers, they are concerned about consumer reactions to rate increases. Tearing down organizational silos, leveraging standards-based technology, and actively engaging consumers in the process will be key to success,” said Stephan Scholl, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Utilities.