An occasional feature on Energy Consumers of the Carolinas will be an “In My Opinion” (IMO) column. We will pose a set of customer-oriented questions to various people involved in the electric energy discipline.

Our first IMO column is from David Doctor, President & CEO of E4 Carolinas, a nonprofit created to cultivate a collaborative Carolinas energy cluster to accelerate economic growth, employment, productivity and prosperity. It’s website is E4Carolinas.org. David has co-founded or led more than a dozen start-up companies, most of them in the energy industry. Doctor has also been with large companies, been a board member, and an educator.

We asked David three questions, one each in technology, customer behavior and consumer education.

Technology – Question: What technology do you see that is especially notable for electric customers, why?

Answer: For industrial and commercial customers, micro-grids coupled with “behind the meter” generating technologies will increasingly be of interest, as name brand companies offer solutions at pricing competitive with utilities and addressing the customer’s specific needs. For residential customers, rooftop solar, battery storage and home power control technologies will likewise place them in greater control of their power needs. In some areas, zero net power/zero carbon housing solutions will be required by regulation.

Behavior – Question: How do you see customer habits changing as technologies change?

Answer: Like with a home’s video feed which previously came from “the television station”, power and power services will come from many companies other than the utility. With this will come increased customer responsibility for their pricing and service level, but also the ability for the customers to have exactly the price and service meeting their needs.

Education – Question: What kind of personal education and information would you advise electricity customers to pursue now? How would they find that information?

Answer: For industrial and commercial customers they need only search online for the topic in which they are interested and they’ll find many companies offering that in which they are interested. A further review of those companies website will reveal their service concept. Residential customers need to start their search with their utility’s website. All residential customers receive service from a utility and much of what they can do with regard to alternative power and services remains regulated by their utility commission and delivered by their utility.