Is customer engagement more about damage control, or helping customers understand their options?
Engaging the consumer takes on new meaning.
than 130 solar power systems in our service territory, and demand for these loans continues to grow. The second program is called ‘Solar 4 All,’ which brings the benefits of solar power to all of our electric customers. By 2013, we will have installed 80 MW of solar power in our service territory—enough capacity to power about 12,000 average-size homes. We’re accomplishing this by installing individual solar panels on 200,000 utility poles around the state, building large solar farms on PSE&G-owned properties, and leasing space from third parties. The best part is that all of this solar capacity is tied directly to the power grid, so all of our customers realize the benefits.
We also implemented programs that help identify and finance energy efficiency improvements for residential and small business customers in select towns as well as government facilities, non-profits and hospitals. And, we are the first in the nation to offer more efficient induction fluorescent street lighting, which emits more light, lasts four times longer and costs less to operate than older models—providing immediate cost savings to participating municipalities. We’re proud of what we have and continue to do for the customers and communities we serve.
Fortnightly: How long have you been a Chief Information Officer? What background do you bring to the utility and how does that factor into your approach at an energy utility company?
Schinski, PPL: I have been a chief information officer for eight years, first at the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, and now here at PPL. I have also held a variety of technology, engineering and program management positions, also working at Lockheed Martin, Philadelphia Electric (now PECO), General Electric and Reliance Insurance.
Of my experience outside the energy industry, my work at Lockheed Martin was especially valuable. At a defense contractor, you need to bid successfully on every job—demonstrating either a strong technological or cost advantage—and you have to execute to ensure your customer’s success and ultimately make a profit. In much the same way, an internal information services department has to provide a technological advantage to help the entire company succeed. Also, the whole operational mindset that comes from working on programs for the federal government was valuable to me. Most programs I worked on had an operational side: A lot of the time, we were maintaining and operating the systems we developed and working directly with the customer on meeting operational requirements for performance and availability, while developing next-generation capabilities.
That was also where I learned about the CMMI approach (capability maturity model integration) to process improvement. You live and breathe it on a daily basis; it’s all about getting better over time. That type of approach and that focus on improvement is part of what I try to bring to my current position, and my management team is committed to this approach.
Nuttall, OGE: I have been associated with information technology for over a decade. My background includes roles in a wide variety of business functions before I came to the utility industry. [Editor’s note: Before joining OGE in 2006,