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The Customer / Regulator / Utility Nexus

Published May 12, 2017

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In March, our Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Market Development Doug Lewin had a chance to speak at Zpryme’s Energy Thought Summit in Austin. During his presentation, Doug expanded on a few of the themes that he and co-author Peter Kind brought up in their white paper “Lower Spending, Higher Returns.”

For over a century, utilities have been encouraged and incentivized by regulators to prioritize infrastructure. And that infrastructure—the construction and installation of poles, wires and power plants—has created the near-universal availability of electricity that customers rely on. But, more and more, those same customers expect added value and services from their energy providers, along with the lower monthly bills that energy efficiency measures can provide.

“My talk focused on the regulatory models that enable and incentivize utilities to move aggressively and quickly toward providing the services customers want,” said Doug.

Over the course of his presentation, Doug laid out a scenario by which utilities are incentivized to empower their customers to take advantage of the technological innovations—like smart thermostats and advanced lighting controls—that make their homes more efficient. But for this scenario to work, the regulatory innovations need to try and keep pace with the tech. Some states have already taken steps toward these kinds of incentives, and Doug discussed them in his presentation, as well.

“This year’s Energy Thought Summit was a great opportunity to address and interact with a diverse group of energy thought leaders,” said Doug. “It was gratifying to hear utility executives from around the world put such a sharp focus on customer empowerment, technology innovation and business model transformation.”

We expect that the ideas and scenarios discussed in this video will only gain traction as technological innovations make energy efficiency more and more convenient for customers.

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