We’re Keeping the Lights On

Courtesy NASA

I fondly remember Tom Bodett as spokesman for Motel 6 commercials saying:  “and we’ll leave the light on for you” implying that they wanted to warmly welcome you when you stay with them.

Well, evidently, the concept has caught on worldwide, brought out, ironically, in part by the efficiency of lighting itself according to this article in USA TodayFarewell to night? Light pollution reducing darkness worldwide.

So, now we are seeing a growing series of problems and issues due to efficiency itself!  Scientists are worried that the brightness at night is going to create a whole family of health problems.

Interesting on many levels, and possibly a canary in the mine for other unexpected consequences of our focus on efficiency.  Some of you who are observant will remember my prior blog on the efficiency of transportation creating a similar problem.


Thanksgiving Again

It is time to say thanks again to all our loyal friends, clients, colleagues, and business partners.  Life is so much more meaningful with these relationships.  And, we want at this time to step back, reflect, and say thanks.

Thanks to each one of you for giving us the opportunities this year as we have journeyed together through the energy industries’ twists and turns.  I am constantly reminded that sitting still on this journey is the riskiest position to take.  You are very likely to get run over and pushed aside.

So much has changed over the past thirty-three years of working with you on energy issues.  It seems hard to believe that we have quelled electricity growth.  That seemed an inconceivable idea three decades ago … but it has been accomplished through increases in efficiency and control.

Some things are still elusive, but I do believe we are homing in on them.  Engaging the average American in an energy dialogue now seems within reach.  Our new generations of Americans are keenly interested in energy sustainability and are so tech savvy that ideas we deemed unrealistic a decade ago are becoming common.

So, as you eat your Thanksgiving turkey, remember the branding message of Boar’s Head, but think of it in reverse.  They boast about real turkey … not making turkey through technology.  The idea was to not cut corners where others are more technology than turkey.

As we face the future, think technology first.

Freedom is Costly

Courtesy USA Today

USA Today had an article on China that most Americans will find chilling. View the story here.

It is an Orwellian thought that, on many levels, seems to make sense.  That is, until you look at the dark side of how it could be used by government to control and punish those with whom it disagrees.  We Americans cherish these freedoms and call the approach an invasion of privacy.  And well we should.

Anyone in the power industry will see clear parallels as we embrace the smart grid and business analytics.  We have already seen some refuse to have these meters on their homes on that basis.  My wife Susan has spoken repeatedly on the fine line retailers and grocers face as they use your purchase behaviors and online browsing to position offers to you.  She uses the phrase “creepy or caring” to define that balance.

Now China drew a line in the sand that gets even more profound: Trust.  How much does the government trust you?  Well, given the bad behaviors on the part of some citizens, that seems to make some sense on the surface here in the US as well.  But, we cherish our invasion of privacy.

So, now that China has done this, what happens?  That question will be answered shortly as we watch them react, even more overtly and violently than the events in Tiananmen Square.  We all remember the picture of the citizen standing in the path of the tank.  This will also be a telling test of the new President of China.  It may make the protests here look like child’s play.


Waiting in line for three days to get an IPhone 10

Alexa… Why is my bill so high?

Can you imagine anyone standing in line for days to get a new utility device from the power company?

You must be shaking your head in disbelief that people line up to be first to get these phones … and paying full price for them as well.  There is something to be learned here, if we are willing to really think about it.

First of all, this is not the mainstream reaction.  It is that early adopter fringe we all know and love.  That represents 1 to 2% of the US population … still a big number, but not a large segment.

We in the energy utility sector are aware of this segment. They are the first to sign up for almost anything and everything we offer that is “techy” … but they are also hard to please, so we have a “love-hate” relationship with them.  That my friends is why we miss the key opportunity to learn from this segment because they give us great feedback.

So, we offer them smart grid data and they use it once or twice … what do we do?  We assume they want prettier graphs or alerts and alarms … we do that … they try that … then they bail out of the relationship.

What is wrong here?  We don’t listen.  We don’t study what they do like.

Please compare your reactions and pace of change with Amazon on the Echo’s capabilities.  If you are thinking about the future of digital engagement, stop thinking of your perspectives and consider what the Echo is offering.

You are competing against this type of thinking … and it is moving very quickly.

And, if you need to see what we are doing in response to this, check out the latest technology from Apogee demonstrated in this video.


If a tree falls in the woods…

Courtesy USA Today

You may have encountered this question in school in a philosophy or logic class.  The question went something like “If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a noise?”

The professor obviously wanted you to think clearly about the word “noise” and depending upon how you defined it, the correct answer to the question could be yes or no.

Well, in USA Today, the press clearly had no idea what they were saying with the headline:

“Space sounds are creepy. We have the audio to prove it.”  See for yourself. 

Anyone familiar with space knows that sound does not propagate.  Light does of course, but having no medium to transmit sound, space is completely silent even if a bomb went off right next to you.  You need molecules of some gas to propagate sound.  So, we have absolutely no idea what anything in space sounds like.