President and CEO, Dairyland Power Cooperative
Barbara Nick became President and CEO of Dairyland Power Cooperative in December 2014. In her thirty-seven-year career in the electric and gas industry, Nick has gained a wide range of professional experience, from investor-owned utilities to her current position in a co-op.
PUF's Steve Mitnick: Do you have some challenges facing your part of the world?
Barbara Nick: The thing I think about most is what we can do as leaders in the industry. When I say the industry, I mean the energy industry, collectively. It's the cooperatives. It's the investor-owned utilities. It's municipalities. It's finding out how we can advance our industry in this time of seismic change.
Let me start by describing why I think it's different today than it was when I joined the industry some forty years ago. We've always seen change: that's nothing new. But those of us in the industry now have seen the world change from the advent of the horseless carriage to the driverless car. The constant theme is that technology is changing how people use our product.
Here is what's different today that I think will fundamentally change the industry. At the start of the Industrial Revolution, growth rates were approximately twenty percent. The '50s ushered in new electric appliances and the industry continued to see healthy growth rates.
I started in the industry in the late '70s and growth rates hovered at four percent through the '80s. Then growth declined to about two percent. Now we're seeing flat growth rates and declining energy intensity per customer. The declining energy intensity is in all sectors - residential, commercial and industrial.