Soon after the launch of EnergyBiz eight years ago this fall, I had an idea.
Why not assemble seven or so utility chief executive officers of utilities each year to discuss what excites them and what troubles them. What do they see as the future of the industry?
Several of the CEOs have returned over the years. I have held these intimate on-the-record exchanges with more than 50 executives.
Last week, I sat down with seven CEOs whose companies have a combined market cap of $120 billion. Not bad for a kid who once played stickball in the streets of Brooklyn.
The exchange was animated, spirited, thoughtful and inspiring. We will carry much of it in our September issue of EnergyBiz. Subscribe now, if you like and be sure to secure your own fresh copy of their discussion when you return to work after Labor Day.
Here is an early edited sampling of what was said.
Jim Rogers, of Duke Energy on smart grid hoopla: “We are operating in an environment where smart grid has been oversold and overhyped and that really makes the deployments more difficult.”
Michael Yackira, of NV Energy, on smart grid promise: “Right now what we are doing is providing information to our customers that they’ve never had before.”
Lewis Hay, of NextEra Energy, on the promise and challenge of using new information about the enterprise: "We are seeing tremendous operational benefits from our smart meters. I have been concerned that traditional utility thinking would limit how creative we are in terms of what we do with all the information that we get. My goal is we take the blinders off."
For those who are waiting for a golden era to descend on Washington and for Republicans and Democrats to trumpet a clear, compelling national energy policy, forget about it.
Listen to what Nick Akins of AEP had to say:
“I’m skeptical of their being a national energy policy that we all can galvanize around and produce a level of investment required going forward,” Akins sad. “It is going to be piecemeal.”
That does not disturb Kevin Burke, of Con Edison.
Said Burke, “It is obvious that we can get by without it. We will probably continue to have the same energy policy we’ve had for the last decade.
Rogers concluded, “I think that we’re in a muddle through policy world. We’ve proved that we have great ability to survive and prosper in a muddle through world. If national energy policy means more federal control, I’m not sure I want to go there.”