‘Southern Company is the only company in our industry that does robust, proprietary research and development.’
Tom Flaherty is a partner with Strategy&, part of the PwC network, with over forty years of consulting experience. Most recently, he has led assignments related to standing up innovation programs and capabilities within utilities. Steve Mitnick is Editor-in-Chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly and author of the book “Lines Down: How We Pay, Use, Value Grid Electricity Amid the Storm.”
At the recent EEI Annual Convention, PUF's Steve Mitnick and Tom Flaherty of Strategy& sat down with five utility CEOs to discuss how they are encouraging innovation at their companies. Below is an edited transcript of the interview with Tom Fanning.
Tom Fanning has been chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company since 2010. He also serves as chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and as chairman of the Edison Electric Institute. Fanning has worked for Southern Company for more than 35 years and has held 15 different positions in eight different business units. Most recently, Fanning served as chief operating officer of Southern Company.
Tom Flaherty of Strategy&: How have you been building innovation in your company?
Southern Company's CEO Tom Fanning: One of the greatest harbingers of future failure is past success. Southern Company for years has been one of the most successful franchises in the U.S., measured by almost any kind of customer metric: reliability, price, and customer satisfaction.
We see the whole model for this industry changing. Customers are requiring it, and technology is enabling it. Over the past hundred years, this industry has been focused on making, moving, and selling energy to a meter. Then that meter becomes a mechanical line of demarcation between the company and the customer.