The Sustainable Resilient Affordable Debates
Steve Mitnick is President of Lines Up, Inc., Executive Editor of Public Utilities Fortnightly, and co-author of a new book, “Front Lines to Power Lines,” and before that the author of “Women Leading Utilities, the Pioneers and Path to Today and Tomorrow,” “Lewis Latimer, the First Hidden Figure,” and “Lines Down: How We Pay, Use, Value Grid Electricity Amid the Storm.” Mitnick was formerly an expert witness in proceedings before the utility regulatory commissions of six states, the District of Columbia, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and in Canada, and a faculty member at Georgetown University teaching undergraduate microeconomics, macroeconomics and statistics.
Companies reposition from time to time. They reach an existential point. The environment in which they're operating changes, significantly. Such companies come to a profound conclusion. They absolutely must change too.
There's a business school term for this strategy. It's repositioning. The thinking goes, if a company addresses new market conditions from a new place and in a new stance, metaphorically, it will be better able to thrive.
Utilities have been repositioning as of late. The environment in which they're operating has become much more about, well, the environment. The natural environment that is. Big finance is demanding utilities ratchet up their fight against climate change and ratchet down their emissions of climate change gases. Big customers are demanding the same.
Utilities who choose to take these demands lightly take a big risk. This road threatens to raise their cost of capital while restraining growth in their service territories. No utilities I know of have chosen this self-defeating path.
Public Utilities Fortnightly, and our parent company Lines Up, Inc., it turns out, are not that much different. Key constituencies of ours are calling for us to give more attention to sustainability issues and look forward more, to the industry's transformation-in-progress. And the industry's future. Should PUF reposition too?
We considered some rather extreme changes. Such as modifying one of the three words in our registered trademark Public Utilities Fortnightly, or more.
In the end, the PUF team thought, we can't do that. Especially as we approach the hundredth birthday of Public Utilities Fortnightly six short years from today.
Yet it was fun to contemplate the possibilities. There was Public Utilities Foresightly. The attraction there? This particular change would have had us switch out but two letters in the third word.
Then there was Public Utilities Future. Or alternatively, Public Utilities Forward. The acronym PUF would be preserved.
Neat. We've grown quite fond of our nickname.
Some might say the third word in our name, that is, Fortnightly, is an anachronism. After all, we no longer publish a new issue of this magazine after fourteen nights have passed since the last.
But that third word, Fortnightly, is a classic. It is revered by the PUF team and evidently, many throughout the utilities industry. Our legs weakened and we retained the registered trademark. All three words of it.
The freedom to do that came in part because, we felt, we could easily change the tagline. That's how we'll provide that needed sense of sustainability and forward-facing.
So, you'll see something new on the cover of this magazine. The tagline of the last few years, Impact the Debate, has morphed. Right below the registered trademark Public Utilities Fortnightly. You'll see there the new tagline, The Sustainable Resilient Affordable Debates.
I know. This new tagline isn't exactly pithy. Though it fits our aspiration exactly. This new tagline perfectly describes what Public Utilities Fortnightly is all about, as we approach the twenty-first century's second quarter.
The essence of PUF is providing platforms for you to say your piece in the great energy debates of our day. To enable you to win the hearts and minds of the policymakers and decision makers who will determine where the industry will go, on sustainability, on resilience, and on affordability.
Changing the tagline for this magazine isn't the only way we're repositioning. We've changed the name of our weekly digital quick-read magazine. From This Half Fortnight to PUF's Where's Energy.
We're launching a regular video program to be called Energy Views TV by PUF. A new production will be regularly released, like a Netflix episode, only once per fortnight in our case. We just can't get away from that historic periodicity of ours.
And we're launching a market assessment service to be called PUF Energy Research. It will issue reports on issues of critical importance to the utilities industry, after interviewing many key thought-leaders across the spectrum. And after further quantitative and policy analysis by our team.
Including its latest addition, Paul Kjellander. He recently retired from leading Idaho's commission, and recently finished his term as NARUC's President. He has now joined the PUF team as a Senior Advisor. Welcome Paul!
That's the new lineup. Once per month, Public Utilities Fortnightly,
refocused on The Sustainable, Resilient, Affordable Debates. Once per week, PUF's Where's Energy, to express our take on where the industry is heading.
Once every two weeks, Energy Views TV by PUF, a fast-paced thought-provoking program, kinda like a "60 Minutes" for energy. And as the need arises, a market assessment report by PUF Energy Research to drill down on the crucial energy challenges facing us.