If you are a good engineer, you can do programming adequately if the need arises. I've met a great number of people who claimed they were not good programers, and went on to become quite good at it.
As for the need, it depends on what you do, as you say. There are many areas where the need for programming is no longer there because more sophisticated tools are available now. With your example of power/energy, programming in Matlab is important, however now much work is done with Simulink which is a block level simulation tool. Hence you might get by without too much programming, but you would at least need to be able to do it.
programming is a powerful tool and I recommend you develop proficiency with at least one programming language. From there you can always transfer the skill to another language. In your case Matlab may be a good choice. And, it might be good to know C too as it is still used extensively for programming microcontroller systems.