The latest emphasis on beneficial electrification reminds me of when I first entered the electric utility sector almost 35 years ago. Cogeneration and gas cooling had the electric utilities flummoxed. They simply did not know how to “compete” with low natural gas prices and a seemingly endless supply of manipulative wheelers and dealers who made it easy for customers to switch.
As some of you know, I became very popular because I seemed to be able to dissuade customers from these ideas. Very few of my clients took my techniques to heart … they were just glad to be rid of what they thought was a distraction on the part of customers. After all, customers should not be interesting in being in the utility business. So they thought.
When I wrote the book, “Cogeneration Issues and Options,” for the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) I illustrated that customers were simply trying to solve operational and financial problems and that cogeneration was nothing more than one of the ways they could do that. Project developers made it easy for them, that’s all.
The key attribute that was most difficult was the attitude of the electric utilities at the time. They viewed the idea of self generation as competition … somehow wrong in the spirit of the customer-electric utility relationship. They didn’t see it as an opportunity to partner with customers. They saw it as a “win-lose” battle and that stance put them at odds with the customer.
I would show them the famous scene from Miracle on 34th Street where Santa when speaking to a small child and then that child’s parent told her she could get the toy that child wanted from Gimbles … the arch rival of Macy’s just across the street. The toy manager wanted to fire the Santa … but the parent’s raving about the Santa’s helpfulness stopped him.
Why be “for or against” any customer idea. Be “for” the customer and their success. Let the chips fall where they may. And, just like that scene in the movie, your customer will always want to shop first at Macy’s.