An occasional feature on Energy Consumers of the Carolinas is “In My Opinion” (IMO). We pose a set of customer-oriented questions to various people involved in the electric energy discipline. Our second IMO column is from Keith Pehl, President and CEO of Optima Engineering. He has overseen its growth from a small business started in 1992 to a well-respected firm made up of more than 60 talented engineers and professionals. He has overall responsibility for all projects and also oversees all quality control, with special emphasis on resilient design and renewable energy systems. (full bio at the end of this column.)

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

Answer: The Internet of Things will greatly impact customers as it will give them the straightforward ability to operate their buildings much more efficiently, thus helping them to reduce energy. It will also greatly enable them in their energy purchases, buying energy when the price is low.

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

Answer: Everyone wants to make life easier, so if technology allows that, then the customer will let technology take over tasks that they used to do. Eventually, they will forget how to do the task (such as how to drive once autonomous cars become commonplace).

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

Answer: They need to understand the cost of energy and when and what causes that cost to change. Too many people are ignorant and just “pay the bill” when it arrives. The information is readily available on utility websites.

Keith G. Pehl is President and CEO of Optima Engineering. He founded Optima Engineering in 1992, and has overseen its growth from a small business to a well-respected firm made up of more than 60 talented engineers and professionals, spread across two regional offices. He has overall responsibility for all projects and also oversees all quality control, with special emphasis on resilient design and renewable energy systems. An Electrical Engineer by training, Pehl has carried a professional license for over 30 years and is registered in 34 states across the U.S. He has designed electrical distribution systems, fire alarm systems, telecom and lighting systems for projects ranging from industrial and educational facilities to churches, medical facilities and corporate data centers. He develops sustainable engineering strategies for all types of clients and facilities, and frequently speaks to numerous organizations on the topics of renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy tax credit opportunities. A North Carolina native, Pehl earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University, and an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.