Meeting the just-and-reasonable standard in a time of change.
Recently I shared a conversation with a senior utility executive at an industry conference. We talked about major forces driving changes in the utility industry – i.e., cheap gas, EPA regulations, cybersecurity imperatives, renewables and distributed energy resources, etc. – and he offered up the following comment:
“It’s a great time to get into the utility industry, and a great time to get out of it.”
By “get out of it,” he was referring to the fact that he’s nearing retirement, and doesn’t envy the ranks of industry executives who will be moving into leadership positions over the next few years. He observed that utility industry leaders – and policymakers – are entering unfamiliar territory, on everything from resource planning to alternative ratemaking. Often that leads to conflict with customers and other stakeholders, as the industry attempts to transition from yesterday’s status quo to tomorrow’s new reality.
None of these challenges will be easy to resolve, and they’re coming just as Baby Boomers are retiring and taking their wisdom and experience out of the board room and onto the golf course. The next crop of leaders will be tasked to resolve a complex array of interdependent problems – and to do so without unfairly burdening or rewarding anybody.
A tall order, to be sure.