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Energy Cast Podcast: Why utilities should be more transparent

Utilities
My guest says the utility industry is just now entering the Information Age, and need to listen closely to what their customers want.

Energy Cast is a podcast featuring some of the top experts across all links in the energy industry chain, including renewables, generation and more! Jay Dauenhauer created the show and has been hosting Energy Cast for several years.

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It feels like the energy “voices” out there believe the public utility’s influence is waning, if not doomed.  I disagree.  But both me and my guest believe their model needs to evolve.

Macky McCleary, my guest, is Partner and U.S. lead for Innogy Consulting, a German firm with a foothold stateside.  as he sees it, the Information Age is just now seeping into the electric utility infrastructure.

“You could drop Thomas Edison into a gas plant,” he jokes, “I’m relatively certain he would be able to operate it.”

Like many of you, I’ve long thought of utilities as “electron providers.” Oh no, says Macky, “What they provide is ubiquity and access.”

If electricity providers are less and less responsible for providing electricity, then what are we paying for on our bill?

“Look at the way your cell phone bill has evolved,” says Macky.  “What we’re really be charged for has even evolved beyond being charged for data.  It’s kind of a flat rate.”

He adds that many electric bills, depending on where you live, include energy efficiency, EV subsidies, and fuel subsidies.

For consumers, it’s all about transparency, according to my guest.  He compares this trend to the “open kitchen” design many restaurants have shifted to in the last few years.

“I think what they tend to reflect is really what the customer’s getting,” says Macky.

I also asked him about key load growth drivers, which he pointed to data management (i,e. server farms) and 5G networks, which will be more distributed and consume more power.

As a longtime former Texas native, I asked how he felt about deregulation vs. regulation. as a former Director of the Rhode Island Dept. of Business Regulation, Macky prefers to call “deregulation” “restructuring” instead.

The question should be, he says, how to achieve the same customer goals, adding that a plan in Texas offers free night and weekend electricity plans.

He also adds that of all the energy markets in the U.S. most like Germany—Texas is the closest by far! (This podcast originally aired in February 2020)


Energy Cast Podcast is hosted biweekly by Jay Dauenhauer.

Learn more about the podcast here.

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