The best minds in the utility industry agree that a tectonic shift is happening in the energy sector, and the future will require new business models, according to the 2015 DNV GL Utility of the Future Pulse Survey.

Respondents were asked what the top challenge for the industry would be for the next five years, and over a third responded “the need for new business models.” In last year’s survey, only two percent of respondents cited a need for new business models, indicating change is on the horizon for an industry struggling to anticipate the effects of growing distributed generation and evolving environmental regulations.

Those two subjects made up the next top challenges after the need for new business models. Distributed generation typically refers to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind or waste-to-energy that are decentralized and provide energy to a home or commercial building at the same location. The advent of cheaper energy storage devices, such as the Tesla home battery will make it possible for more of these producers to sell and distribute energy if they are connected to national grids.

This year’s survey found that utility providers are learning to adapt to a changing industry. Over 40 percent of respondents say they are developing proactive strategies toward new entrants in the distributed generation space. More than half said they will take advantage of new technologies to improve their operations and boost the bottom line. More than half said they would embrace the energy-storage trend by providing energy-storage products and services by 2020.

“In the market we are beginning to see companies forge new partnerships and stake out new offerings,” the DNV GL researchers write. “Industry regulars, like JustEnergy and Duke Energy, have formed partnerships to support distributed PV (photovoltaic solar) offerings for their customers.”