It’s not every day that I have the opportunity to interview two utility executives — especially from Texas, and especially a mere two months after the historic freeze in the State of Texas. While we didn’t spend a lot of time dissecting the causes of the February grid failure, much of our conversation addressed the types of challenges, programs and solutions that utilities — in this case CPS Energy, the nation’s largest municipally owned electric utility — are thinking about and implementing in the aftermath of the Texas freeze.
On today’s episode of RYA, we host Rudy Garza and Rick Luna, Chief Customer Engagement Officer and Director of Technology & Product Innovation at CPS Energy, respectively. Rudy and Rick are two utility executives who are clearly thinking deeply about the future of utilities and the need for customer-centric programs that focus on energy efficiency and management, demand response, and conservation. To that end, CPS has issued an open RFP that seeks to crowdsource energy efficiency and conservation programs that will augment their already award-winning Save For Tomorrow Energy Program (STEP).
Interestingly, our conversation meandered a bit and ended up at a place that I am very familiar with: the growing importance of customer education, proactive communication, and engagement across digital and other more traditional communications channels. As Rudy pointed out, the utility of tomorrow will only thrive if there is a true partnership between customers and their utility. Customers have rights, but they also have responsibilities. It is incumbent upon utilities to engage those customers and both aid, encourage and prod those necessary behavioral shifts.
Tune in as we discuss:
- Rudy and Rick’s respective career journeys
- Consumer attitudes following the Texas grid outage
- The role of businesses and homeowners in making sure that we avoid future outages
- The role of carbon capture in a net zero future