DEFG: Consumer Choice & Residential Demand Response Can Serve Environmental Goals in Power Markets

Climate Change Business Journal 2015 Executive Review

Excerpt of an interview with Jamie Wimberly, Chief Executive Officer for DEFG:

CCBJ: In a spring 2014 story for Public Utilities Fortnightly, you and your colleagues wrote that “Changing customer expectations are putting pressure on regulated utilities to expand their role beyond the traditional boundaries of providing the infrastructure that generates and delivers energy.” What are the main examples of these expectations today? And what are you expecting for the future?

Wimberly: As has been widely noted, our nation’s infrastructure—including large electricity generation assets and the grid—is aging, deteriorating and polluting. On the other hand, it is very difficult to build new large assets for regulatory, financial, environmental rules and other reasons. Customers can be a patch to cover the holes. How? Customers can change their consumption patterns through pricing signals or increasingly they can own their own generation assets such as solar.

Customers, in turn, want lower utility bills, more convenience when paying their bills and interacting with their energy supplier, and ultimately, more control of their energy spend and their level of service. In short, customers want more visibility to value, meaning customers will increasingly seek greater transparency and options from their energy supplier. Even for those “set it and forget it” folks, greater automation and alerts are examples of how customer preferences will be made manifest even when not actively interacting with the energy supplier.

There can be synergy between these two realities. But there needs to be a shift in perspective from commodity to man-aged service. This is going to be very challenging because it will require a complete update of the regulatory rulebook and the financial model.

For additional information, see the Climate Change Business Journal, Executive Review 2015, Volume VII, Special Year-End Supplement, December 2014.

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