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Beyond The Meter

Business & Economics Podcasts

Beyond the Meter addresses timely topics of interest to executives responsible for renewable energy procurement and distributed energy resources at Fortune 1000 companies, higher education and cities. Each episode delivers insights and information that listeners can use to make smarter energy decisions beyond the meter.


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Beyond the Meter addresses timely topics of interest to executives responsible for renewable energy procurement and distributed energy resources at Fortune 1000 companies, higher education and cities. Each episode delivers insights and information that listeners can use to make smarter energy decisions beyond the meter.




Driving Energy Innovation in Data Centers with Jay Harris and Wayne Johnson, Ep #19

In this season of Beyond the Meter, we’re taking a closer look at the meaningful impact business energy project have on the world around us. Host John Failla is joined by Jay Harris, Director of Data Center Services and Facilities for Clemson University, and Wayne Johnson, Key Segment Manager for Education at Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. They discuss their organizations’ collaboration on energy infrastructure projects and provide insights into why these projects are critical to the university’s overall success. You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Data operations at Clemson [04:16]Duke Energy’s role in Clemson’s upgrades [08:10]The partnership structure [11:38]Flexible contracts that grow as the business need grows [15:54]Impactful Projects [21:11]Major benefits of Duke Energy partnerships [28:23]Key lessons and tips for innovative energy [33:07]Advice for the academic sector [37:00] The Journey to Success In 2007, due to a breaker labeling error, Clemson University had both of its 20-year-old UPS (uninterruptible power supply) o out. That incident led the university to prioritize upgrades. The university would have needed several years to do the research required to fully understand the design and procurement to get the upgrades done. This is when Clemson turned to Duke Energy for guidance. The university started the conversation with Duke Energy in April of 2007. By mid-November, the university had a new generator, two new UPSs, 250-ton air-cooled water chiller, and four new computer room air handlers. The university went from piecemealing together their strategy to a fully functioning infrastructure. A Board-Approved Financing Option Clemson University worked with Duke Energy to identify areas that are ready to be improved or equipment that needs to be replaced. The university signed a 10-year agreement with Duke Energy and amortizes the cost across the length of that agreement essentially transferring CapEx to OpEx. Instead of needing the funds upfront to purchase and install equipment, the contract spreads the cost across 10 years. This structure has made budgeting a lot easier for the university. Approval is easier with an amortization schedule vs. obtaining approval for millions of dollars upfront. Most university campuses are struggling with deferred maintenance costs, especially in facilities. Now Clemson University’s facilities team can propose a solution that removes them from the CapEx competition on campus in exchange for a little more OpEx. Not only will this help with resiliency, sustainability, and efficiency initiatives now, but it will also make sure those goals deliver across the lifespan of those assets. An innovative business model Part of what makes Duke Energy’s contracts so successful is their flexibility. Duke Energy has its own in-house structuring, counsel, engineering, and operations teams. These teams determine what each client is good at, and then Duke Energy prices and builds solutions around what the customers do and what they need. As a company, Duke Energy wants to have relationships with customers working collaboratively to deliver solutions across time because that’s where the most significant energy savings and reliability services outcomes are found. Considerable savings can occur when working together to develop these contracts and partnerships. Rather than simply selling a product and leaving the rest to the customer, Duke Energy is involved in the design, build, operations and maintenance phases. Working through these phases with a single vendor can save money while achieving the comprehensive outcomes, including sustainability, reliability, and resiliency. Resources & People Mentioned Case Study: Clemson University Information Technology CenterClemson University Note: The above project was performed by Duke Energy’s Business Energy Services team. Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions leverages these specialists to deliver innovative...


Getting the Green Light for Energy Projects with Mark Adams, Mike York, and Wayne Johnson, Ep #18

In this episode of Beyond the Meter, host John Failla is joined by three Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions team members. Mark Adams is the Business Development Manager, Mike York is the Strategic Account Manager, and Wayne Johnson is the Key Segment Manager for Education. These experienced executives walk through practical steps toward gaining approval for resiliency projects. You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Making the business case Achieving internal buy-in for energy managers is a common challenge. Many projects miss the mark on this critical first step in making the business case for a project. Fully understanding the project, need, and goal will lead to precisely what’s necessary for a project to achieve that goal. Starting with the end in mind and understanding the process will direct how the project is communicated. Everyone has different communication styles, so choosing the right person to present varies by initiative. Typically, engineers can speak to engineers and do a reasonably good job communicating with finance. Still, many engineers would find it a challenge to translate an initiative into business results and talk to executives. The presentation must be succinct, with further data ready for when there are deeper questions. The goal is to give people the information they need to make a reasonable decision and not drown them in detail and minutiae. With data, details can become muddled in the impact, degrading the target outcome’s importance. Begin with consensus The default starting point for many projects has been receiving approval from finance. However, finance tends to wait to follow after the authority has expressed initial interest. At that time, a higher priority is placed on the project, and the project will receive more support. The entry point has to be with the individual with the need. Finance tends to look for a simple payback or some framework that may not apply well regarding the replacement of assets. The presenter will need to present the initiative in such a way as to anticipate and overcome objections. Finance finds comfort in consensus. If approached with a project that already has people from various departments working together to push it forward, finance is much more likely to join. Finance will need cost comparisons, asset lift management expectations, and expenses. Anticipating these questions means knowing the people in finance and how they communicate. Consider the wider audience When proposing a project to your business, the decision-makers are the primary audience. Often overlooked are the people who don’t have the authority to approve a project yet affect how the project proposal is received. Considering these different perspectives and bringing them on board is crucial in making the business case for a project. Success is unlikely if a solution doesn’t receive support from the engineering, facilities, and finance departments. This concept applies in other industries as well. In education, the sustainability officer doesn’t typically have much money to spend or authority to leverage but is influential in the process. Being attuned to the broader audience will help gain the project’s approval and its overall success. Resources & People Mentioned Duke Energy Sustainable Solutionscom Connect With Our Guests Mark Adams - Business Development Manager Mark’s experience with Duke Energy and Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions through his multiple roles has given him the opportunity to meet, listen and understand, through countless customer meetings across a wide spectrum of industries, the challenges and the ever-changing world they live and compete in daily. Through these meetings, he has learned that everyone has their own unique issues and challenges. His learned business development skills have given him the opportunity to work with diverse industries on many innovative projects. Mark is married to Samona for 35 years and has a 31-year-old...


Collaborating to Drive Diversity in Clean Energy with Darrell Booker, Cheryl Comer, and Tracey Woods, Ep #17

This episode is made in partnership with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. In this season of Beyond the Meter, we’re taking a closer look at the meaningful impact renewable energy projects have on the world around us. In this episode, host John Failla is joined by Darrell Booker, Corporate Affairs Specialist leading the Nonprofit Tech Acceleration Program for Black and African American Communities (NTA) at Microsoft Philanthropies, Cheryl Comer, Senior Strategic Account Manager - Duke Energy, and Tracy Woods, VP, Operations - American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), to talk about their collaborative efforts on the recently created Diversity In Clean Energy (DiCE) initiative. DiCE, a program to advance equity in clean energy, is an initiative sponsored by Duke Energy’s Strategic Account Management Program. Listen in to learn more about the progress being made to promote diversity in the energy industry. You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... The American Association of Blacks in Energy For nearly 45 years, the American Association of Blacks in Energy (ABBE) has focused on energy policy and the impact of those policies on communities of color. They work on policies and professional development to ensure that their members can be cultural ambassadors in the communities where they live and work. AABE receives many calls from employers seeking diverse talent. To serve this need, they provide scholarships and programs for high school and middle school students interested in careers in the energy field, job postings through their newly revamped Career Center, and numerous programs like Black Energy Awareness Month. The Diversity in Clean Energy (DiCE) Initiative DiCE is a program sponsored by Duke Energy to drive visibility and open doors of opportunity for diverse suppliers in the clean energy field. At Duke Energy, DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is a business imperative inspiring how they work with employees, customers and their communities. They’re taking intentional action for the good of both the community and business. The idea for DiCE was sparked by a request from T-Mobile via their Energy and Sustainability Program Manager, Amy Bond, who asked Cheryl what Duke Energy was doing to identify, train, track and utilize diverse suppliers. This question inspired Cheryl to open the conversation to her other strategic accounts, as she knew they would all benefit from this conversation around diversity, equity, inclusion, and how that relates to clean energy. Through these discussions, she realized that there was ample opportunity, interest and need for the resources supported by the DiCE initiative. Collaboration in the energy industry The energy industry is in the midst of a massive transformation. As one of the largest utilities in the United States, Duke Energy has an obligation to provide reliable, affordable, and increasingly cleaner energy to customers and communities. One of the most efficient ways to initiate change is by cross-industry leaders coming together, pooling resources, and solving complex problems. While many corporations realize that they want to work with diverse suppliers, they don’t know where to start. The ultimate goal of the DiCE | AABE platform is to facilitate the inclusion of diverse suppliers into mainstream corporate supply chains and to eliminate systemic barriers. Everyone in this collaboration has something different to bring to the table: Duke Energy has the means, AABE has the connections, and Microsoft has the technology. As the DiCE | AABE platform continues to grow, there are endless opportunities to fulfill its mission and we look forward to seeing the positive effect it will have in the clean energy space. Resources & People Mentioned American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE)AABE Career Center Nonprofit Tech Acceleration for Black and African American Communities ProgramAmy Bond - Energy & Sustainability Program Manager -...


The State of Community Solar with Terri Dalmer and Owen Grant, Ep #16

In this episode of Beyond the Meter, host John Failla is joined by Terri Dalmer, Vice President of Solar Business Development at CleanChoice Energy, and Owen Grant, Business Development Manager at Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. They discuss the broad impact community solar can have on businesses and diverse communities nationwide. You won’t want to miss the insights and reflections they have to share from their over 30 years of experience. This episode is made in partnership with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... What is community solar? Community solar consists of facilities that produce less than five megawatts of electrical capacity. It allows residents, small businesses, and other organizations, such as municipalities, to receive credit on their electricity bills for the power produced by these solar arrays. It differs from residential solar in that it is an off-site project with no financial investment from a consumer and serves multiple levels of subscriber offtake. The impressive growth of solar is due to the diligent policy work at the state level, where legislation is being supported to expand the renewable market. The dynamics of state programs are a significant influence on solar’s success. Currently, about 19 states and DC have a wide variety of programs. Some of the newest markets coming on board currently are Virginia, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. Solar is a dynamic and growing market that offers a lot of opportunities. Community solar projects in Massachusetts Massachusetts provides an excellent opportunity to work on ground-mount, front-of-meter projects. A nice feature of the Massachusetts program is that these projects can be operated either as community solar or by directly selling electricity to utility companies. Duke Energy found this quite an attractive project, deciding that the community solar route made more sense financially. That’s how Duke came to work with CleanChoice as a subscription management company to bring in small customers. Duke Energy and CleanChoice Duke Energy is a best-in- class company, so they needed a best-in-class collaborator to help with their community solar pilot project. They’ve been pleased with the relationship with CleanChoice and their ability to help Duke Energy navigate the ins and outs of the community solar program’s SMART (Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target) element as well as the utility coordination. Together they’ve created a model project that other companies should consider. One of the values of Duke Energy is serving its communities. With community solar, the benefits are kept local. It’s an opportunity for both the small and large customers in a community to participate in the project. Having a large anchor tenant allows the project to open up to customers that might not otherwise be qualified to participate in a solar project. The local element of these projects provides a kind of equity of access to renewables as part of the energy transition. Resources & People Mentioned Solar Energy Industries Association: SEIAAlternative On-Bill Credit FAQ April 2019 Connect With Our Guests Terri Dalmer - Vice President of Solar Business Development at CleanChoice Energy Terri Dalmer is Vice President of Solar Business Development at CleanChoice Energy, responsible for overseeing a community solar management services portfolio as well evaluating market expansion opportunities and partnerships with solar as it relates to both management services and project development. Ms. Dalmer has over 20 years of experience in the energy and commodities fields with sales roles at Morgan Stanley and ConEdison Solution. She led the commercial renewable energy retail sales departments for both Crius and CleanChoice, encouraging mid-to-large-sized organizations to embrace green products and advance corporate sustainability initiatives. Terri is a graduate of Trinity College, CT, with a Bachelor of Arts...


Innovation through Electrification, with Diana Kotler, Ep #15

This episode is made in partnership with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. In this season of Beyond the Meter, we’re taking a closer look at the meaningful impact renewable energy projects have on the world around us. Industry guests discuss how their cleaner energy transitions are driving change, both within their organization and the larger community. Our guest for this episode is Diana Kotler, Executive Director at Anaheim Transportation Network. Host John Failla and Diana discuss one of the hottest topics in the industry: fleet electrification. Diana has extraordinary insights and experience on the topic that we’re excited to share. Listen in to learn more. You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Early motivation for electrification Diana is from Southern California, which is known to have the worst air quality in the nation. To ensure that the air remains liveable and breathable, the City of Anaheim had to find alternatives to fossil fuels. They looked to electrification in order to improve air quality and ensure that their developments would allow the city to continue to depend on tourism and convention business. This combined approach created the opportunity to generate local revenues and taxes, which, in turn, provide services to the community. Interestingly, while the electrification effort in Anaheim started with a focus on air quality and health benefits, most organizations today are getting involved because of the need to decarbonize operations. While they did discuss fossil fuels and reduced carbon footprint, those were just peripheral discussions at the time. Diane says it doesn’t matter so much where the emphasis is placed, as long as the work provides a better environment for future generations. Community impact Anaheim is on its way to becoming the largest operator of electric buses in Southern California. The city is also beginning to integrate some twelve-passenger electric vans into the fleet for on-demand services that don’t require as much capacity as a bus. They also have 10 slow-speed smaller vehicles that operate in neighborhoods connecting schools, libraries, and eateries downtown. Altogether the city serves about 10 million passengers annually. The service for the smaller vehicles is called FRAN: Free Rides Around the Neighborhood. It is based in the Colony district of the city, which is rooted in tradition and history. When FRAN was introduced in the neighborhood, it was an immediate success. As FRAN began to go deeper into the neighborhoods, people started asking when it could serve this park or that area. People were fighting to have FRAN serve their community. While capacity declined due to the pandemic, service is slowly but surely being reinstated. Overcoming challenges in electrification The technical expertise and guidance of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions has been immeasurably valuable to the City of Anaheim. DESS had the in-depth experience connecting a public sector participant with private capital that the city didn’t have the reach to achieve. Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions supports operations and ensures that the infrastructure is robust. The partnership of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions and the City of Anaheim means that the Anaheim Transportation Network operates not only today but also twenty years into the future. As more vehicles are added to Anaheim’s fleet, infrastructure needs to adapt. For example, if the city were to switch to another bus manufacturer, the charging technology and chargers would be different. Therefore, standards will be necessary at some point so that any brand of vehicle can use any charging station. Acceptance of electrification is another challenge. At the beginning of electrification, there was a lot of opposition because people were afraid of this unknown entity. Over time, that hesitancy has faded, and people are embracing technology. As with any new technology, there is a learning process of people adapting...


The Power of Resiliency with Ann Kloose, Michael Kilpatrick, and Whit Remer, Ep #14

This episode is made in partnership with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. Municipalities across the U.S. experience any number of challenges when building infrastructure projects and energy solutions, but one of the biggest is building with future needs in mind. The issues of resilience and sustainability are front and center in this undertaking, and the guests on this episode are on the front lines of the fight. Join John Failla of Smart Energy Decisions as he hosts a conversation about resilience and sustainability, with his guests Ann Kloose, City of Fresno Manager of Sustainability; Whit Remer, City of Tampa Sustainability and Resilience Officer; and Michael Kilpatrick, Key Segment Manager for State and Local Governments at Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... How do Resiliency and Sustainability work together? In Whit Remer’s view, resiliency is the top-line of any sustainability plan. It requires looking at the shocks and stressors that affect the community being served. He says the acronym, E.S.G. — the Environmental, Social, and Governance measurement of energy solutions — is a helpful way to remember what resiliency is all about. Sustainability comes into the picture when the Environmental area is considered. How can we take care of the water, land, and air in a community? A good resiliency plan should include sustainability initiatives to ensure that the provision of energy for the community is not damaging the area, and in fact, is helping to improve the community. There’s a “Resiliency Movement” happening in municipalities across the U.S. Michael Kilpatrick has the opportunity to see and hear what a variety of communities across the U.S. are doing to increase both the resiliency and sustainability of their energy solutions. He says that in the past, the two were often not tied together. But things are changing now, due to the impacts of COVID and a growing realization that sustainability and resilience support each other. This new approach is benefiting communities across the nation. Community-wide, resiliency is simply defined as improving the quality of life across the entire population. As an example, the design of streets has an amazing impact on a community. Do they include protected bike lanes? Are they complete and well maintained? Are they aesthetically pleasing? Do they include walking trails or sidewalks as part of their design? These factors and many others create vibrant, connected neighborhoods that provide access to businesses, community features, and public services conveniently and easily. The biggest challenges when building future-ready projects It’s impossible to predict the future, but municipalities have been attempting to wisely forecast future needs when planning infrastructure and improvements. But working to meet future needs doesn’t happen without challenges. Communities around the nation are finding common roadblocks such as… It’s clear that there are many challenges facing cities around the world, but the dedication, cooperation, and expertise of individuals like Ann, Whit, and Michael are making a difference from which other cities can take notice. Connect With Our Guests Ann Kloose, City of Fresno Manager of Sustainability Ann Kloose has over 25 years of combined government and utility industry experience and currently serves as the Sustainability Division Manager for the City of Fresno. She is committed to serving the citizens of Fresno and is responsible for guiding the City’s energy efficiency programs, sustainability efforts, and energy policy issues. Ann’s experience also includes City Council Chief of Staff, Utility Outreach Manager, State Communications Coordinator for the Concord Coalition, and Sr Government Relations at PG&E. She also serves as a Board member on the Fresno Fire Chief’s Foundation, Board Secretary of Jazz Fresno, and is an instructor and Board member at the San Joaquin Valley...


ESG Investing & Innovative Financing Models Including Green Bonds, Ep #13

Environmental, Social, and Governance factors (ESG's) refer to a set of standards that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. ESG's are increasing in importance and many companies are looking to ESGs to guide sustainability decisions and to prove their sustainability commitment to customers and stakeholders. Join us for this episode as Cari Boyce, Katherine Neebe, and Doug Esamann join host John Failla to discuss the steps Duke Energy has taken in the adoption and implementation of ESGs in moving toward its sustainability goals. You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Introducing this episode’s guests and their experience with renewable energy [2:01]Why Katherine chose to move from Walmart to join Duke Energy [5:30]What is ESG investing and why is it of such importance these days? [10:01]Duke’s 20-year history in sustainability planning and its current goals [18:20]To what degree are ESG goals a business imperative for energy companies? [29:39]The role energy storage and emerging tech will play in Duke’s ESG picture [42:16]Collaboration is key in the energy transition [50:01]The role of investment in moving forward in a greener, cleaner way [53:13] A closer look at the role of ESG in corporate responsibility ESG refers to how a company performs in these three key areas: Environmental criteria: how does the company perform in terms of its ecological and environmental responsibility to the community? Social criteria: how does the company manage relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates? Governance: how does a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights operate? Companies that navigate trends in the ESG space tend to outperform companies that ignore those trends. For that reason, ESG's should be a core consideration to a company’s strategy and fundamental to the way the company does business. Sustainability has been a core value at Duke Energy for 20 years Duke Energy, being a major electricity provider, sees itself as a major contributor to the well-being and fulfillment of the people who live in the communities it serves. As a result, the team at Duke has learned to listen to stakeholders, customers, and investors to know what’s important to everyone. The company also pays close attention to the environmental needs and impact of any projects it is involved with. When it comes to ESG goals, Duke’s emphasis tends to be more on environmental aspects since it is a company that impacts the environment directly by virtue of what it supplies. But the social and governance aspects are just as important. The challenges are many; among them are the pressures to “green” their energy supply while doing it in ways that are affordable for customers. The Duke team is committed to continuing the search for the right balance and proper perspective to make it possible to do both. It’s imperative for companies like Duke to focus on ESG goals As the demand for ESG consideration increases from investors and customers alike, Duke Energy is proving themselves to be a leader in the field. Emerging energy technologies like solar and wind are options customers want to have as energy options, and Duke is providing them. As proof of its commitment in these areas, to-date, Duke has retired more coal-based power plants than any other industry player and by 2030 Duke will no longer be producing energy via coal within the Carolinas. In Indiana (which is considered “coal country”) it will only be 10 to 15 years before coal-based energy production is no more for Duke. As a result of these commitments, the carbon intensity Duke is serving to its customers is some of the lowest in the country. Though many who are driving the renewable energy transition want Duke and other energy suppliers to make this transition more quickly, it’s an issue where goals have to be pursued at the proper pace. Duke has a two-fold...


Electrification of Transportation with Catherine Kummer and Michael Luhrs, Ep #12

We’ve all heard of the new electric vehicles that Tesla and other manufacturers are producing, but when you look at electric vehicles from a broader fleet perspective, the possibilities for reducing carbon emissions long-term are exciting! The Smart Energy Decisions team believes this issue of fleet and public transportation conversion to be a key component in moving the energy transition forward, so this conversation was especially interesting to us. Our guests on this episode are Catherine Kummer, Climate Advisor for the American Cities Climate Challenge to the City of Charlotte, NC, and Michael Luhrs, Vice President of Market Strategy and Solutions for Duke Energy. Speaking from their unique positions, each of them provides a wonderful perspective on the issues driving the move toward fleet and public transportation electrification, how it’s being accomplished on the ground, how the issue impacts corporations, and what role utilities like Duke are playing in making the transition possible. It’s exciting to hear what’s happening and what is projected to happen in the years to come. Don’t miss this enlightening and encouraging conversation. You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Catherine Kummer’s background in renewable energy and transportation [1:44]Michael Luhrs’ work with clean energy and energy efficiency at Duke Energy [2:39]What is driving interest in electric vehicle pilot programs in cities? [3:42]The key drivers of corporate initiatives to create electrified fleets [11:06]Why utilities are embracing the move toward electrification of vehicles [13:47]Reasons cities and businesses believe electrification of vehicles is essential [17:57]Why the total cost of ownership makes the Electric Vehicle (EV) transition a total win [22:28]The role utilities need to play in the EV transition [33:21]Barriers to making the EV switch and how to overcome them [43:55]Looking 3 to 5 years into the future when it comes to vehicle electrification [49:50] Charlotte, NC is leading the charge in electrifying its fleets When asked what is fueling the drive behind the electrification of municipality fleets and public transportation, Catherine says that, quite honestly, it’s the cities themselves. As the Climate Advisor for the City of Charlotte, NC she has a front-row seat to the initiatives that the City Hall and City Council are taking in this important step toward the smart energy transition. The city of Charlotte has implemented an aggressive public education campaign surrounding its clean energy goals, which include community outreach and engagement via many platforms. The city has also put into place two new policies that support electrification goals. These come directly from their Strategic Energy Action plan and aim to entirely electrify the city's fleet by 2030. Currently, as part of that plan, they are working toward the addition of 27 electric vehicles to their light-duty fleet, at an investment of over $740,000, which would make 42 total electric vehicles for the city. The city is also ensuring that the charging infrastructure required is part of that expansion. It’s cities like Charlotte that are leading the way nationwide. Corporate & utility drivers toward electrification of vehicles When it comes to why corporations are moving toward the electrification of their vehicles, Michael puts it best when he says it's about sustainability and efficiency — or being clean and cost-effective. Duke Energy has recognized that its constituents are taking on the mantle of the renewable energy transition. With that, corporations are adapting to provide the value to their customers that they want and need. A significant benefit can also be derived from the cost savings involved when implementing electric vehicles. Maintenance, fuel expenditures, noise and emissions pollution, and more go into these savings. Utilities see the fundamental shift occurring globally in the form of mandates from...


Evolving Energy Strategies In Higher Ed - What's Next?, Ep #11

Institutes of higher education are large consumers of energy. From the lights and heat that are needed to keep students and faculty comfortable enough to learn effectively, to the equipment, technology, and staff required to keep things running, the expense is enormous. But for those same reasons, these institutions have a tremendous opportunity to push forward the move toward sustainable energy solutions, which will result in a cleaner environment and better future, and cost savings for them. Today, three guests from the realm of higher education join John for a frank conversation about the overall challenges faced by institutions of higher learning when it comes to renewable energy. Join John and his guests, Bill Guerrero of Ithaca College, Dennis Elliot of Cal Poly, and Wayne Johnson of Duke Energy for this enlightening conversation. You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... The experience and background of our guests, leaders in Higher Education [0:55]A big-picture view: Energy management and sustainability in Higher Education [7:24]Some of the most productive investments in energy efficiency [16:38]The role of resiliency in energy solutions for Higher Education [24:12]How to pay for the improvements needed [32:56] Master Plans enable colleges & universities to plan toward sustainable energy There are vast differences in the way institutes of higher education make decisions and implement them when it comes to the capital improvements required to move toward sustainable and energy-efficient solutions for their campuses. The predominant way these institutions move the needle is through the inclusion of sustainability initiatives within the university or college’s Master Plan. These plans are revisited and revamped often because the situation on school campuses is changing all the time. New needs arise and circumstances demand new approaches. It’s a perfect opportunity to move their energy usage toward sustainable solutions. This conversation highlights the approach two leaders in higher education have taken when it comes to renewable energy improvements on campus. Cal Poly and Ithaca College have both focused on integrating sustainable energy improvements into their Master Planning process, with one of those schools even creating an independent energy Master Plan due to the increased importance of the issue. The issue of resiliency is of paramount importance for higher education The wildfires that have raged across California in 2020 illustrate one of the many reasons colleges and universities need to build resiliency into their energy procurement solutions. Cal Poly discovered that their energy solution was inadequate as a result of the fires. The institution relied on a sole provider and delivery mechanism that was endangered by the wildfires. The impact of a power loss is massive to facilities, educational systems, remote learning, and more. To address these issues, many opportunities exist to ensure power is not disrupted and education continues. Regional transmission systems with various substations are one solution, as are generators use in a synchronized fashion. On-site batteries can be used to implement load-shifting during peak energy consumption hours, and larger schools are looking into microgrids, co-generation, and combined heat and power sources. The most effective ways to fund energy improvements The COVID pandemic of 2020 has shown all of us that the economic conditions we enjoy one day may be in jeopardy the next. It’s an example of how various crises can shift the focus of an organization or institution to new areas, and environmental sustainability goals could be a regrettable casualty when this occurs. Add to that, the fact that many colleges face serious asset replacement issues shortly. 80% of schools surveyed say they plan on funding those capital improvements through increased enrollment, but because of the pandemic, full enrollment is not expected to happen for many...


Teaming on Sustainability: Manufacturing & Retail , Ep #10

While many people know Kroger as the nation’s largest traditional food retailer, few know that they are effectively the fifth largest consumer packaged goods manufacturer in the nation and have more than 2800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. In this episode, we learn that Kroger is committed to protecting people and the planet by advancing positive change in their company and communities and realizing that they could have multiple environmental and social impacts through their own operations, through the supply chain, and in other areas. Zero Hunger, Zero Waste is what Kroger named their social impact plan to end hunger in their communities and to eliminate waste in their company by 2025. This plan was launched in September of 2017 and was inspired by their purpose to feed the human spirit. They are always looking to the future and have recently announced their new, and very ambitious, 2030 ESG Goals. Joining Smart Decisions Founder John Failla for this closer look are Kroger’s Lisa Zwack, Head of Sustainability, and Denis George, Category Manager – Energy. You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... [1:58] A brief scope & scale of Kroger and Lisa & Denis’ roles and responsibilities[5:00] Drivers and commitments related to Kroger’s sustainability and energy management[8:30] Drivers behind Kroger’s energy programs[10:50] Safety and quality are paramount[12:30] The role that investor interest has played[20:45] More about Kroger’s approach to Climate Impact[25:08] Two key ideas for getting store-level associates to buy into the idea of saving energy[29:17] the La Habra Baking Project[34:01] What role, both internally and externally, do you see relationships playing in pursuit of your ESG goals?[41:45] What is unique about Kroger’s relationship with Duke Energy?[43:57] Talk about the future and where things are headed Stakeholder/Investor Engagement Stakeholder engagement is a great way for Kroger to learn what their key internal and external stakeholders think about what they are doing and what they think Kroger should be doing moving forward. Kroger engages with its stakeholders through its materiality assessment early in the year. It is a great focused opportunity to get input from their various stakeholders, investors, NGOs, and any number of people outside of the company as well as inside the company. Kroger wants to hear what is most important to their leaders as well. Investors are a key audience. There is increased investor interest in how companies are managing climate risk and climate impact and how they are reducing energy usage and moving to more renewables and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Kroger is generally always trying to increase and improve the amount of transparency that they use when they talk to their stakeholders as they know that they are trying to get more decision-useful information for their purposes of making investments in different companies. Kroger prides itself on being very in tune with what investors are looking for and being responsive to that. They also took part in a qualitative climate risk assessment late last year. Kroger assesses and manages risk as a company overall, but this assessment was a great foray into the more dedicated climate risk assessment process, which is something else investors are looking for companies to do. Historically Driven by Expense Savings Twenty-some years ago, when Denis started with the company, they were more “Zero Energy, Zero Waste” before they were “Zero Hunger, Zero Waste.” Denis states that if they can fulfill their mission to their customers by using less energy, that is just a smart way to operate a business. They learned long ago that through energy efficiency they could achieve that very quickly and very uniformly. They have also found that one can achieve cost reduction in many other ways - through contract negotiations, better rates from utilities, items of that nature, and, as renewables continue...


Resiliency and Technology in Cities, Ep #9

Most of us live day to day in our city of choice without giving much thought to the infrastructure and services that living in the city provides. But when a natural disaster or outage happens, we immediately recognize that vitally important things were going on behind the scenes that we benefit from directly. This episode highlights the steps the city of Greensboro, NC has taken to begin its “Smart City” initiative, which includes a number of renewable energy approaches. You’ll enjoy hearing from three officials from the city of Greensboro and how their varied roles provide unique looks at the challenges of becoming a Smart City. You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... The guests on this episode and their role in energy & renewables [0:58]How Greensboro started its “Smart City” journey [4:48]The overview of Greensboro’s energy management evolution [9:01]Greensboro’s actions compared to other municipalities [12:59]The consequences associated with power outages for cities [18:08]How does resiliency intersect with renewable energy sources? [26:25]Greensboro’s kiosk program: why it was created and what it’s accomplished [28:43]How Duke and other energy suppliers can partner toward renewables [33:46]Prioritizing investments in smart city and renewable energy projects [35:41]Are energy-as-a-service programs helpful for municipalities? [40:10]Emerging priorities for cities and the communities they serve [47:17] The Smart City journey the City of Greensboro is on The city of Greensboro, North Carolina started its journey to becoming a Smart City when neighboring cities began working on fiber installations. Greensboro’s leadership began investigating its own options for fiber installations since high-speed data connections are foundational to the technology needed to implement Smart City approaches. From there, many additional developments have come about. In their current approach, the city’s leaders are continuing to ask, “How can we leverage the Smart Cities approach for growth and economic development?” Some of the initiatives they’ve implemented so far are the city’s smart connected corridor, which includes informational kiosks visitors can use to find out about the city, locate destinations, and connect with public transportation. Find out more by listening to this conversation! Why resiliency is vital for municipalities like Greensboro The situation in Greensboro mirrors the reality of many municipalities around the nation. For Greensboro, 30 out of 80 facilities are emergency-related, so when the power for the city experiences a disruption, there’s not only a dollar impact, it can also create a logistics nightmare. A tornado a few years ago made it abundantly clear that resiliency for the city’s power grid was of the utmost importance. Greensboro’s CIO, Jane Nickels says that if the data center goes down, everything in the city shuts down, and it would take days to get the data center back up. For that reason one of the resiliency measures they are adopting is a migration of everything possible to the cloud. As well, all projects — Smart City related or not — have resiliency in mind. From the creation of “battery buses” to the use of solar power to charge them, the city is well on the way to making its power needs resilient. How Greensboro pursues financing through partnerships City budgets are not known for being lavish and the budget in Greensboro is no exception. The city had no budget at all set aside for Smart City initiatives when the idea came to the forefront, so those leading the charge had to look for partners. When they keep their ears open to what’s going on in the city and do the legwork of discovering what projects are slated by other companies, they can often find ways to attach a Smart City initiative to that project. These are collaborations that enable them to leverage Smart City ideas into the projects other organizations are already budgeting. Listen to learn more about how...


Resiliency In Healthcare, Ep #8

Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy were each crisis situations in their own right and one of the sectors impacted that brought the issue of power resilience to the forefront was healthcare. It’s easy to see how life and death are on the line when power outages or disruptions impact a care facility. Join host, John Failla as he speaks with Eric Bennett of Duke Energy and Matt Stiene of Novant Healthcare as they discuss the current state of resiliency in healthcare systems, the challenges faced in becoming more resilient, and what the future may hold. You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... The role and responsibilities of today’s guests [1:12]Resiliency is an important consideration for the healthcare sector [3:05]How does compliance impact the application of resilient measures? [7:27]The unique challenges to adopting new technologies in light of regulations [10:16]Utilizing partnerships to move redundant systems and projects forward [19:11]Energy management budgets and the challenges organizations face [21:47]Guidelines Novant uses to consider financing renewable energy structures [28:35]The greatest challenges in resiliency management going forward [31:33]What’s next for Novant and the healthcare industry in terms of energy? [36:45] Healthcare resilience can easily be an issue of life and death Life support and medical systems of all kinds that are typical to health systems require power to operate. Those in charge of running healthcare facilities and those responsible for their construction have to think through how to provide that power in an uninterrupted fashion so that patient care is not compromised. Matt Stiene shares how Novant Healthcare is committed to multiple sources of power for its facilities, with secondary systems many times taking the form of backup generators that can power entire facilities for long periods if needed. But even so, the desire to move toward sustainable sources of energy is becoming a greater consideration. Listen to hear how Novant is addressing these challenges and how the healthcare sector is doing at addressing the energy challenges it faces. The application of microgrids promises great potential for healthcare The latest statistics reveal that the healthcare industry is the 5th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. With the amount of power required for the average healthcare facility, that shouldn’t be a surprising figure. But given that healthcare should be focused on overall health, including how health is impacted by the environment, those figures are dominant on the radar of many senior leaders in the healthcare sector. Microgrid solutions, built on-sight as power backups are one option being pursued. Two of Novant’s facilities only have one primary service available either in terms of the source the power comes from or in the means of delivery the provider employs. An on-sight battery storage facility is one microgrid option the organization is pursuing in those situations. Matt admits that due to the limitations of how battery systems work, it’s not a long-term fix but could allow for uninterrupted operations for a significant time while getting the facility’s primary power systems back online. How do renewables fit into the resiliency picture? Healthcare organizations are taking a closer look at renewable energy these days. That’s because leaders in the industry see it as their responsibility to contribute to the overall health of those in their communities, not just to the acute or responsive care that’s typically provided in a healthcare facility. For Novant, the mission of “Improving the health of our communities one person at a time” is taken very seriously and sustainability figures into that. He says that the internal pressure to move toward sustainable sources of energy is growing and also says that the communities they serve are expressing growing concern about the issue as well. But the metrics around costs make it challenging....


Look Who Switched To Renewables: Sprint’s Journey To Lower Emissions, Ep #7

Lower emissions are one of the many goals being set by corporations across the country to reduce their carbon footprint and exercise corporate responsibility. Naturally, every company has its own unique set of hurdles to overcome in setting and attaining such goals. In this conversation Amy Bond, Energy and Sustainability Program Manager at Sprint explains how Sprint started looking into what it could do to procure energy from renewable sources back in 2008, but nothing fit their situation at that time. Fast forward to 2018 and it’s an entirely different story. Join Smart Energy Decisions Founder, John Failla as he speaks to Amy about Sprint’s journey. Joining the conversation is Scott Macmurdo, Business Development Director at Duke Energy, Sprint’s partner in its recent Virtual Power Purchase Agreement. Outline of This Episode Sprint’s first Power Purchase Agreement in partnership with Duke Energy Renewables At the recent 2019 Renewable Energy Sourcing Forum, Amy shared the culmination of Sprint’s journey for the first time. It’s a 12 year Virtual Power Purchase Agreement that Duke Energy has put together. Duke will build and operate a 182-megawatt wind farm in West Texas and Sprint will purchase 95% of the output from the facility for use in its facilities. Amy says that amount us almost 30% of Sprint’s entire energy consumption. But please understand, Sprint did not come to this place overnight. Their journey toward sustainability goals that made sense for them as a company was begun in 2008. Ten years later, it’s finally coming to fruition. Ten years of trying, iterating, and striving to come to renewable energy success Sprint first launched its environmental goals in 2008 and hoped to meet them by 2017. One of those goals was to acquire 10% of the company’s energy from alternative sources by 2017. Those goals were not met. The first option the company considered was the purchase of hydrogen fuel cell racks in 2008. The project proved to be impractical from a cost perspective. The first VPPA Sprint ever considered came in 2014, but again the economics didn’t make sense at the time. But Amy says that the unexpected by-product that came from those efforts was that an internal renewable energy team was assembled, so when 2018 came around all of those team members were still with the company and were still interested in working toward a way to reduce emissions as a company. This gave them a jump start on moving projects forward once the costs were more aligned with their goals and needs. Sprint had no overarching climate goals - but engaged with renewable energy anyway The goals Sprint generated back in 2008 were never realized. When Amy came to see that the practical and financial limitations previously experienced were no longer the case, she began pitching the idea to key stakeholders right away. Through months of discussion and hard work, the team cooperated with Duke Energy Renewables to put a plan in place that everyone involved could sign off on. Notice something important - Sprint had no renewable energy goals in place at the time but the company was able to move forward anyway. Don’t let any perceived lack in your renewable energy policy or goals hold you back from moving to reduce emissions for your company. You can do it! Key things for corporate buyers to be thinking about When looking at a potential VPPA deal, there are many things to pay close attention to in order to move the deal forward. First, you need to work hard to frame the project in ways that make sense within your organization. Amy also stresses that you need to look closely at your developer (Duke Energy Renewables, in this instance). The relationship will be a 12-year relationship in Sprint's case. It’s important to feel comfortable and confident - and to know that all the stakeholders can feel the same - as you move into that kind of relationship. Scott points out that corporate buyers should understand that the timeline you work from...


How AT&T’s Corporate Sustainability Pledge Is Coming To Life, with Shannon Carroll and Scott Macmurdo, Ep #6

More and more companies are making corporate sustainability pledges - and it’s a good thing. Corporations are some of the largest consumers of energy in the world. When these companies take steps to reduce their carbon footprint by procuring their energy from renewable sources, they have a significant impact on the overall environmental issues our world is facing. This conversation inspires hope because it illustrates how a communication industry giant is leading the way in the sustainability movement. That company is AT&T. Guests on this episode are Shannon Carroll, Director of Global Environmental Sustainability at AT&T, and Scott Macmurdo, Business Development Director at Duke Energy Renewables. Their companies recently partnered on a renewable energy project that illustrates the kind of steps that can and should be taken by companies large and small. You will enjoy this conversation. Outline of This Episode [1:01] The background of each guest in the sustainability arena[8:09] The role corporate sustainability goals have in driving asset sourcing[12:37] The involvement of the C-suite in sustainability pledges[17:18] Who are the main stakeholders in the AT&T pledge toward sustainability?[21:36] AT&T’s journey in renewable energy sourcing[27:26] The anatomy of a renewable energy purchase[34:40] The challenges that had to be overcome in the recent Duke / AT&T deal[40:15] What’s the future of renewable energy hold? The AT&T 10X Goal for environmental responsibility and sustainability When it comes to corporate sustainability pledges, AT&T has set the bar pretty high. Not only are they committed to lowering their own operational carbon footprint as much as possible they are also committed to enabling their customers to reduce their carbon footprint as well. That’s where the 10X Goal for Environmentally Responsibility and Sustainability comes in. The AT&T pledge is this: We’ve set a goal to enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of our operations by 2025. We’re calling this our 10x Carbon Reduction Goal, or more simply, our “10x” Goal. To meet the goal, we’re making our network more efficient and we’re working with our customers to deploy technology that can help reduce GHG emissions, save water, and more. AT&T is also teaming up with companies to measure the GHG emissions reduction of specific products. The AT&T energy team worked with experienced third party consultants in the renewable energy space to come up with the strategy and then put it into place officially. Listen to this discussion to learn how they made it happen. The fastest and most significant way to reduce your company’s carbon footprint In recent years we’ve seen record rates of sustainability goals by corporations. Not coincidentally, we’ve also begun to see record levels of corporate renewable energy procurement. Simply put, companies are taking the initiative to sidestep traditional forms of carbon-based energy to use renewable energy instead. Undoubtedly, this is the best way to dramatically draw-down on a company's CO2 footprint in the least amount of time. As explained by the guests on this episode, there are a handful of things companies could do to be true to their commitment to corporate sustainability. Some of the solutions are: Moving toward energy efficiencyThe build-out of renewable energy sources of their ownChanging gas-powered fleet vehicles to electric While good and needed steps, in most cases, these are not the way to create a significant change in a short amount of time. Then how are they doing it? Through large-scale renewable energy procurements. Think of it as the largest “ROE” - return on effort. Limited resources demand the biggest bang for the buck - which is accomplished through switching energy sourcing to large scale solar or wind projects. Goal alignment and good communication drive corporate sustainability efforts As the AT&T team began to make efforts to reduce the company’s CO2 footprint, many options were...


How Energy Providers Like Duke Are Leading The Way, with Doug Esamann and Chris Fallon, Ep #5

As one of the largest energy providers in the United States, Duke Energy is positioned to make a significant impact on the move toward renewable sources of energy. Duke provides electricity to 7.7 million retail customers in six states. While some might see the renewable energy movement as a threat to a company like Duke, its leadership sees renewable energy as the future of energy providers across the nation. As a result, Duke’s commercial business owns and operates diverse power generation facilities in North America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets. The company is leading the way with the modernization of its energy grid, generating cleaner energy to create a smarter energy future for customers. This conversation features Doug Esamann, Executive Vice President of Energy Solutions at Duke and Chris Fallon, Vice President of Duke Energy Renewables. Listen to learn how energy providers like Duke are positioning themselves to serve customer needs through renewable energy. Outline of This Episode [1:10] The background and involvement Doug and Chris have in energy utilities[4:00] Duke Energy’s history in renewable energy procurement[7:41] In deregulated markets, Duke has been very active. Here’s how[9:16] The role renewable energy has played in the company overall[13:10] How Duke communicates with customers regarding renewable energy[18:20] A wide range of customers in renewable energy projects[24:56] The biggest obstacle for Duke’s renewable energy projects: uncertainty[29:35] Why Duke is bullish about renewable energy[34:40] How the “Energy Integrator” concept impacts the approach of utilities like Duke The renewable energy story at Duke begins with commercial business The leadership at Duke energy could see the writing on the wall as more and more states were becoming focused on renewable energy in the development of legislated energy standards. It meant a change for the way Duke creates and supplies energy to its customers, but the team was ready to respond. Renewable energy at scale was a natural fit for Duke to consider as it sought to offer utilities to municipalities and cooperatives who were under the requirements to meet renewable standards. At first, justifying the investment in renewable options was difficult from a price perspective but the company’s leadership was committed to sustainably growing the business. As costs have come down in regulated markets and tax credits have made renewables competitive with traditional options, Duke has looked to replace coal plants and other carbon-free options with cleaner forms of energy. Balancing profitability with customer needs and CO2 emission goals Traditionally, energy suppliers like Duke have looked for opportunities of a long-term nature that allow the company to build out a power plant or facility and be able to rely on a return on that investment coming back over time. While not the same thing structurally, renewables allow customers with good credit history to provide a similar long-term opportunity for Duke through longer-term contracts. This provides the same secure deal structure but allows Duke to vary its supply chain considerably. At the same time, renewables present an opportunity to couple investments in new generation sources of energy with the company’s CO2 emission reduction goals. Duke’s current goal is to reduce its carbon emissions by 40% by the year 2030. Its efforts have been so encouraging there is consideration within the company of shooting for an even larger CO2 reduction. Duke’s leadership understands that they have a unique responsibility to embrace renewable sources of energy as a way to get to its environmental goals while still being able to provide reliable, affordable power to its customers. The customer’s perspective matters to the team at Duke Modern customers want to be more responsible with their energy choices. They also want the opportunity to select the kind of energy they want to purchase for their...


The Home Depot Sustainability Approach, with Craig D’Arcy and Craig Noxon, Ep #4

One of the high profile corporate renewable energy initiatives in the news recently has been the unveiling of Home Depot’s sustainability goals. Home Depot is among the increasing number of corporations working to make renewables a significant part of their energy procurement strategy. But for Home Depot, this new direction is not fueled by a desire to become sustainable, it began because it makes financial sense. On this episode of Beyond The Meter, join host John Failla and his co-host Craig Noxon, Vice President for Enterprise Sales at REC Solar, a Duke Energy Renewables Company as they speak with Craig D’Arcy, Director of Energy Management for Home Depot. You’ll learn how Home Depot started its journey toward the use of renewables, how early successes encouraged further efforts, and how both the financial and efficiency benefits of using renewable energy has motivated them to keep innovating. The Home Depot approach is a great example of how corporations can make use of renewables and increase the bottom line at the same time. Outline of This Episode [1:05] The background and role of each participant in regards to renewable energy[3:25] Home Depot’s energy management strategy: key elements[5:41] The primary drivers for the Home Depot strategy[8:13] Comparing Home Depot’s approach to the work other companies are taking[11:56] Technologies Home Depot has employed, renewable energy and otherwise[16:57] The role renewable energy plays for Home Depot[20:42] Which programs are most important to Home Depot (on-site or off-site)?[25:11] The challenge of getting stakeholders aligned toward renewable energy[27:50] Tips for those trying to get the attention of the C-suite for sustainability efforts[29:35] Advice about how to enlist the financial teams to help make the case[32:36] What’s next for Home Depot’s energy management strategy?[35:54] The challenges of energy providers in light of renewable energy innovation[40:36] Energy as a service concepts: Do they work for large companies? Home Depot’s energy policy goals made renewables a viable option There are typically three drivers behind a corporation’s consideration of renewables as an energy source. The first is cost, the second is the company's conscious sustainability goals, the third is increased resiliency. Craig D’Arcy says there is no doubt that all three play some role in Home Depot’s approach, but the first attempts to roll out renewable energy projects were entirely focused on the financial benefits. Renewables simply made financial sense for increasing efficiency and bottom-line profitability. As early successes with renewable projects were achieved, they were able to investigate other options and expand their efforts toward sustainability. It's led to their sustainability story becoming public, which has driven internal excitement and created momentum for the renewables side of their energy procurement strategies. Listen to hear how Home Depot continues to consider all sorts of energy solutions, including any renewable sources that make sense for their broader goals. 3 critical elements of the Home Depot sustainability approach When thinking of the renewable energy movement, it’s common to assume that those pushing for the use of renewables are only concerned about global issues of sustainability, but there’s incredible motivation to implement renewable energy alternatives from a variety of standpoints. In the case of Home Depot, three primary concerns guide their energy decisions... 1 - Foremost, Home Depot views everything they do through caring for their stores so that associates and customers are served well 2 - Every energy sourcing project must make sense financially 3 - Leadership has passed down a mandate to be as innovative as possible to accomplish those first two, which makes their decision-making technology and structure agnostic Listen to hear how this plays out for Home Depot as Craig D’Arcy explains the fit renewable energy has in that...


Renewable Energy Sourcing In Higher Education, with Wolfgang Bauer and Scott Therian, Ep #3

The use of renewable energy is becoming more and more common on campuses of higher education across the country - and it’s not surprising. Institutions of higher education are both massive consumers of energy and are in the business of learning and teaching. That combination makes them ideal laboratories for innovation and advancement in the field. This episode features two guests, Wolfgang Bauer and Scott Therian who are both uniquely positioned to speak on renewable energy sourcing and adoption as it relates to higher education. Wolfgang is Associate Vice President for Administration at Michigan State University. His expertise is in renewable power systems integration, micro-grid management, energy efficiency, and sustainability. Scott is Project Development Manager at REC Solar. He has spent the last 9 years in the solar industry after getting his education in electrical engineering with a focus on power systems, energy conversion, and renewable energy sources. Join these two renewable energy experts and host, John Failla of Smart Energy Decisions for this intriguing and insightful episode. Outline of This Episode University campuses are huge energy consumers. Is it possible for them to use renewable energy? Most universities are strategizing around the use of renewable energy, both in terms of how to use more renewable energy for current needs, and how to increase the use of renewable energy through establishing their own sources of RE in the future. But there are many variables that either support or hinder the adoption of renewable energy in these institutions. One advantage is that universities are long-standing institutions, which provides stability and inertia that can be leveraged toward multi-year contracts with renewable energy companies. But other factors can make the adoption of renewable energy difficult. For example, many land grant institutions have the advantage of developing their own sources of renewable energy, while urban universities have less opportunity to do so. What are the drivers for adoption of renewable energy in higher education? For institutions of higher learning, as well as other large organizations, a choice no longer has to be made between environmental sustainability and fiscal sustainability. Both can be a reality. The levelized cost of large scale solar and wind power is now lower than that of fossil fuel generated power - even with the historically low cost of natural gas that has resulted from Fracking. For this reason, cost is a significant driving factor for the adoption of renewables at universities. But also, due to political pressure, more and more universities are making progressive pledges that put them at the forefront of the renewable energy stage. They want to be seen as leaders in this innovative and future-oriented field. As a result, many universities are entering into cooperative agreements with public sector organizations to bring the reality of renewable energy on campuses to life. Listen to hear more drivers for the adoption of renewable energy at these institutions. Renewable energy sourcing is not something universities are used to doing The adoption of renewable energy is challenging for universities because it’s not like any procurement the administration is used to doing. In the past, energy needs would simply be procured from the local utility company. But the marketplace has changed and now schools have many options for meeting their energy needs. And the transition from old energy models to renewable energy involves complex projects that require much foresight and planning, which often gets bogged down in committee. But many universities are beginning to move in the right direction - restructuring their administration to take energy needs into account with the creation of administrative positions such as Director of Sustainability or Director of Energy and Utilities. As well, the use of third party consultants is becoming more commonplace since most...


Corporate Deployment Of EV Charging Infrastructure with Rob Threlkeld and Craig Noxon, Ep #2

Naturally, as any consumer technology becomes available to the public, the supporting infrastructure has to be developed right alongside. That’s the only way it can become widely accepted. But it’s not as easy as “just doing it.” There are many obstacles, financial hurdles, and unforeseen difficulties that have to be overcome. This conversation dives into what’s happening behind the scenes in the electric vehicle industry to deploy EV charging infrastructure across the nation. John’s guests are Rob Threlkeld and Craig Noxon. Rob is the Global Manager of Sustainable Energy, Supply, and Reliability at General Motors, one of the many automotive suppliers leading the way toward EV adoption. Craig is Vice President of Enterprise Sales at REC Solar, a Duke Energy company. Both men have a unique insider’s view of what’s happening to build out the infrastructure necessary for wider adoption of electric vehicles, so be sure you listen to hear what’s happening on the ground across the nation to promote the purchase and use of electric vehicles. Outline of This Episode Retailers can gain an advantage by investing in the EV charging infrastructure Many businesses across the country are noticing the advantages that can be had by providing EV charging stations at their retail locations. When customers who own and drive electric vehicles have a place to park and recharge their vehicles, it naturally follows they will frequent the establishment that provides it - and make purchases there. In retail, that's worth noticing. Anything that produces a competitive advantage is going to be seriously considered. Rob and Craig discuss how retailers, automakers, and local utilities are working together to roll out more EV charging stations at retail locations, on this episode of Beyond the Meter. 20 million EVs on the road in the next 10 years - what will that require from an energy perspective? As more and more electric vehicles hit the road, many things will be needed to both support and sustain the shift away from traditional fossil fuel vehicles. What sort of things need to happen? This means that infrastructure decisions and innovations must be top of mind now so that when the demand arrives, we’ll be able to meet it. It’s not only the electrical suppliers that need to think about the infrastructure - employers, corporations, and even leaders of municipalities need to be involved, taking steps to ensure that the technology and innovation needed to serve their communities is happening. Demand drives supply - always. Imagine the energy demand required if a good majority of those 20 million EVs were charging at the same time. Would the electrical supply chain be able to handle it? It will if we think ahead about the storage needs required to pull it off. We need to ensure that energy produced during “non-peak” times can be stored effectively and economically so that it can be used during peak times - which means the storage technologies we have now need to be improved and increased across the board. EV as a service could be a very real possibility in the near future One of the most encouraging things happening around the move to electric vehicles is that partnerships between energy suppliers and automotive manufacturers are being formed to help consumers make the transition. Plans are being considered to provide “EV as a service” to interested consumers. These agreements - much like a traditional automotive lease - would potentially provide not only the vehicle, but also the energy, access to the charging infrastructure, and more. Imagine it - consumers would be able to receive a complete EV solution from one provider. The “sharing economy” might come into play as well. Conversations are happening around the idea of “stranded assets” such as fully charged electric vehicles that are sitting idle, being used to provide electricity back to their local utilities, for other users to “borrow,” and more. Listen to learn some of the great...


The Renewable Energy Outlook For 2019 And Beyond, Ep #1

When considering both the future of the planet and the future of both industry and human thriving worldwide, the renewable energy outlook is of paramount importance. Renewable energy is of vital concern simply because cultures worldwide consume energy as part of everyday life. Renewable sources of energy are of such great importance for two main reasons: This conversation is an exploration into the renewable energy outlook for the near future, led by Smart Energy Decisions founder, John Failla. John speaks with Chris Fallon, Vice President of Duke Energy Renewables and Kyle Harrison of Bloomberg NEE about the future of renewable energy through the lens of varied approaches and ideas. You’ll receive a broad overview of the current state of the renewable energy industry, hear the challenges being addressed currently, and gain an optimistic perspective relating to what can be done to make renewable energy more available and useful in the future. And keep reading below to see some of the specific topics addressed in this conversation. Outline of This Episode The renewable energy outlook relies heavily on companies Companies, both large and small, are by far some of the largest consumers of energy worldwide. That means if companies make a commitment to renewable energy use rather than traditional fossil fuel use, the renewable energy industry will take a giant step forward. As of 2018, 42% of companies have stated both renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals. Today, just over 190 companies have set target dates by which they intend to offset 100% of their energy consumption with renewable energy. Those are promising facts, which will require aggressive emissions reduction steps - and buying clean energy is one of the best ways to do so. Listen to hear the stories of companies that are striving toward their renewable energy goals and to understand the challenges they face in doing so. The economics of renewable energy: a double-edged sword Two of the most obvious and in-demand sources of renewable energy are wind and solar. Costs have come down in both of those branches of the industry, which has made clean energy more attractive for corporate buyers. But though the low cost makes renewable energy very attractive, there are difficulties to be overcome. Kyle Harrison refers to this conundrum as a double-edged sword. Both wind and solar operate at zero marginal cost - which means that in some markets there is an over-saturation of renewable energy produced by solar or wind generation. When this happens, prices are depressed, which in turn decreases the profitability of the installations generating that power. When that’s the case, it makes signing energy procurement deals in those particular markets that work financially for both provider and consumer, difficult at best. In this conversation, you’ll also learn how some corporate customers are looking at renewable energy as a risk mitigation play - taking advantage of the tax incentives offered by the government for using renewables by trying to lock in the benefits of low rates for a longer period of time. The opportunity of community solar When we talk about “Community Solar” projects, we’re referring to local solar facilities that are shared by multiple community subscribers (companies in most cases.). Those subscribers receive credit on their electricity bills for their agreed-upon share of the power produced. It’s a model of solar production and usage that is being adopted nationwide. Companies that participate receive the flexibility of an on-site project under purchase or lease agreements. Not only does a subscriber company benefit by transferring some of their energy supply to renewable energy they also receive the benefit of having a good PR story to tell to the media and customers and shareholders. Unfortunately, Community Solar is not an effective way to meet the overall energy demands of most companies. Listen to hear why Community Solar is one of...


Introducing Beyond The Meter, A Podcast Highlighting The Transition To Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is a big topic these days - and it will undoubtedly become a bigger topic as we move further into the 21st century. It’s not just that we want to develop more efficient and environmentally friendly energy solutions, it’s that we must. Our future and the future of our planet depend on it. I’m John Failla, Founder and Editorial Director at Smart Energy Decisions, the first web-based information resource dedicated exclusively to addressing the information needs of commercial and industrial electric power customers. Our goal is to serve as a catalyst for change in support of the dramatic energy transformation taking place in the electric power market. To that end, we want to elevate the conversation around the topic of renewable energy, and this podcast, produced in partnership with Duke Energy is one way we are doing that. Join us for “Beyond The Meter” - a series of conversations highlighting what’s happening in the field of renewable energy. In this series, we’ll discuss how companies and municipalities are beginning to transition, how innovation and technology are making it possible, and what YOU can do to join the movement. You can subscribe to these conversations in a number of ways, which you can find at the bottom of these notes. Thank you! Outline of This Episode How and why corporations need to transition toward renewable energy Corporations are under increasing pressure due to the global competition they face. The rise of the internet alongside other digital technologies enables competition from around the world to reach out to their markets. For this reason, the leadership at corporations across the world are discovering that they need ways to do more with less. When it comes to doing more with less, energy has been a bit stubborn. It’s been hard to reduce costs in that area and still provide needed resources, but all that is changing, for a few very encouraging reasons… 1 - Policy changes have occurred that allow for more choice. Corporations are realizing that the loggerheads they once experienced when choosing utilities and energy solutions are no longer the same. 2 - Innovation in both financial and technological ways are allowing for options that didn’t exist before. Wind and solar are now able to compete with the traditional energy grid to drive down the cost per kilowatt hour. Corporations are finding this very appealing. Imagine the difference it could make to a manufacturing company to reduce its energy costs company-wide! Control and Costs are huge considerations when it comes to renewable energy The rise of renewable energy has had a wonderful impact on the ability of corporations to exercise greater control in how they go about using energy. They can now manage risk more effectively and plan for the future due to the options available - EVs, solar, microgrid storage, and more. These allow businesses to have a greater degree of resiliency and increased capacity. The increased usefulness of storage technologies is the glue that helps the distributed generation technologies work together. It’s encouraging to realize that there is not a single technology that makes distributed energy solutions work. The technologies that exist are able to work together in ways unheard of previously. Utility companies play a huge role in making the transition to renewable energy It’s to be expected that a transition of the magnitude needed in the energy industry is going to take time and require many people and entities to participate. One of the beautiful things is that we now have solutions beyond what a typical regulated utility company can provide. For example, Duke Energy is the owner of REC Solar. Why? It gives Duke access outside its typical markets and the potential to own and operate energy assets long term. More and more partnerships like this are happening and it’s serving the public good by utilizing the strengths of the long-standing energy companies alongside the innovations found...