Duke Energy, Southern Co., Dominion
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.”
Jan Vrins is the global Energy practice leader at Navigant.
The chief financial officers of the three large southeast utilities (Dominion, Duke Energy and Southern Company) sat down with PUF editor-in-chief Steve Mitnick and Navigant Energy practice leader Jan Vrins to answer questions. In this second part of their discussion, they discuss the importance of innovation, the critical role of cybersecurity, and how they got where they are today. Part One appeared in July 2017's Public Utilities Fortnightly.
Navigant's Jan Vrins: How do you free up financial and human resources to innovate?
Southern Company's Art Beattie: Over the years, we've invested billions of dollars in robust, proprietary research and development to better serve our customers. We also opened an Energy Innovation Center, where our employees and partners collaborate to tackle some of the energy industry's most pressing issues.
But it's not so much that we've got a building and people dedicated to it, because we want all our employees to think about innovation, not just those within a building. For example, we had a contest a couple years ago. We called it "SO Prize."