I can’t believe that just about a month ago we were about to kick off DNV GL’s 2019 Energy Executive Forum. There were so many great moments in the Arizona desert. It was great to see our industry collaborating on not only the opportunities but also the difficult challenges we face.
During the panels, keynotes, the Town Hall, and, of course the “hallway moments,” the conversation was continually lively and engaging, and I had the opportunity to drop in on many of them. The most interesting nuggets that I heard were 1) a disruptive approach or technology is the most likely force to get multiple new retail markets open, 2) retail and competitive energy needs to up their game with regulators, and 3) there are numerous areas for the industry to collaborate.
The practical reality shared by many industry executives is that there is little potential for changing default service frameworks or opening many new markets given the raw political power of monopoly players, and this is made worse by the backlash caused by bad participant behavior. Technological change is happening very quickly, and business innovations will soon bring a competitive transformation that will broadside both the retail energy and utility business models. However, competitive energy providers have an advantage over utilities, as these companies have business models that can adapt.
Although we heard from legislators and regulators that they want energy competition to work, the competitive energy industry has a black eye and needs to clearly shows how policy goals will be met and how customers benefit if they are going to get anything done. As Lyft Chief Policy Officer Anthony Fox emphasized, it is critical to work with regulators anticipating what they need, aligned on the industry’s objectives, and always advocating for what is needed. NY State Senator Kevin Parker reminded us that “relationships are primary, everything else is derivative” and in politics you can seldom rely upon the “merits” to get what you want.
I heard many speakers and took part in so many conversations that identified specific things that the competitive energy industry should be better at working together on. Things like data management standards, self-regulating organizations, net metering regulations, billing rules, etc. These innovations can only really be successful if the industry approaches them as a united front, rather than competing against each other. So if you want to survive, you have to know where to collaborate—and know where to compete.
All-in-all it was a fun event where we got to hear new perspectives about turning the corner from retail energy to the much broader spectrum of possibilities of competitive energy. I am excited and energized to help the energy industry through the next phase of the competitive energy transition.