From Scott Carlberg

Being a winning utility in the 2020’s is way more than just keeping the lights on. New dimensions of corporate character are evolving for this industry, among the oldest and most traditional on the business scene.

Innovation breeds new responsibilities. Think about it. For example, increased data collection spurs the need to protect people’s data. Or, new ways to “hail a cab” via LYFT or UBER require new corporate responsibilities for passenger safety. Or, increasing abilities to understand emissions and their impact on everyone – not just customers – link corporate priorities and decision-making.

Keeping the lights on. Today that is a quaint and simplistic concept for an energy company.  Some companies take the newfound charge seriously with heartfelt and wise transparency. They explain how they pragmatically implement lofty goals for clean energy, and how they meet complex financial challenges, and how they see new customer services, for instance. They have done this with success in the past.

There is a simple phrase that sums-up corporate citizenship for power companies in the 2020’s.

Customer focus. Maybe some companies call it customer care or corporate social responsibility. Ancillary concepts that drive to the same destination.

What it means. Customers and stakeholders of a power company …

  • Receive information they can trust because the company has been open and smart in the past.
  • Believe that a company is expert in its business because of its past record and view of the future.
  • Are heard. Customers and stakeholders are genuinely heard and respected.
  • See how the company puts thought into clarity and innovation that make the most of technology.
  • Do not see a company mired in the past.

It is the 2020’s, not the 1920’s; a time to look ahead and not behind. One energy publication says, “In today’s business climate, electric utilities must be nimble, innovative and member-focused to meet the challenges of this changing environment. Clinging to outdated processes, relying on antiquated systems, and failing to embrace technological advances can cripple an organization’s reliability and responsiveness.”

Customers can be crippled with a power provider knee-deep in the past.

Customers and stakeholders have a responsibility to learn about their energy and demand customer focus from their power companies. Demand progress.

2020 to 2028 will have as much change as we had in the last 25. Eight years will advance change as the past 25, I heard one energy executive say. The last 25 years includes the internet, iPhones, artificial intelligence, the Prius, TiVo, Google maps, landing on Mars, an ECG your wrist, smooth speaking home assistants, custom cancer treatments, and even – wait for it – meatless meat.

$4.5 trillion. Just in electric energy. That is the estimate for electric grid transformation in the next ten years.

Customers, lawmakers, voters have a responsibility to ensure that the right organizations are in place to reliably execute on an accelerating pace of electric industry – and customer – change.