- Electric Power
- Natural Gas Distribution
- Water Sewage and other Systems
The utility sector includes public organizations maintaining infrastructure for public service and for-profit organizations, including privately-held firms. Public utilities are subject to forms of public control and regulation. Parts of the sector operate in a market-based context.
The term utilities refers to electricity, natural gas, water and sewerage. While historically, telephone services have sometimes been included in the umbrella sector of “utilities” – they are not included in this summary.
In the US, utilities are often natural monopolies because the infrastructure required to produce and deliver a product such as electricity or water is very expensive to build and maintain. The sectors are regulated by a Public Utilities Commission.
Developments in technology have altered some of the natural monopoly aspects of traditional public utilities. For instance, electricity generation and electricity retailing, have become competitive in some countries, including parts of the US. Still, the network infrastructure used to distribute most utility products and services has remained largely monopolistic.
Elevated emphasis and public attention toward climate change, alternative and cleaner forms of energy, as well as market supply and demand put a strain on operations decisions and profitability. The well documented aging workforce crisis is increasingly an issue within the electric and gas utilities in the US.
Emerging topics of interest include climate change, alternative energy, regulatory changes, talent management, knowledge management, business process outsourcing, field automation, and asset management systems. For organizations transition from regulated to deregulated enterprises, marketing operations, customer relationship systems, and billing systems become elevated needs.