Get to know our utilities guest blogger, Matt Chester
Introducing our new guest blogger, Matt Chester – an energy analyst in Orlando FL, by way of Washington DC. Matt will be producing some great blog content for us, with a specific focus on the utility sector.
Matt says customers are starting to demand more from their utility providers: expecting more clean energy; wanting to take control of their own efficiency and carbon footprint; appetite for fine-tuned data and actionable items to take away from that data; and more. Read on to learn more about Matt and his passion for the energy sector.
What’s your backstory?
I studied engineering in school and wanted to find a way to apply that education and skills in a way that would help people. While building machines or designing cars would be cool, I realized the future of energy was the most important topic out there and I wanted to be a part of it. I’ve since spent my career in different roles across the energy sector (policy, markets, research, consulting, and more) and have learned so much, I couldn’t imagine working in any other area!
Did you choose utilities or did utilities choose you?
As I said, I quickly figured out that the energy field was the best place for me to apply my engineering background and natural scientific curiosity in a way that would leave a positive impact on the world. So, in that way, I definitely chose energy. But then from there, I would say utilities chose me, as various opportunities arose that directed me to the utility sector. It makes a ton of success, as utility companies are most people’s main (or only!) interaction with the world of energy, so that’s where you go to impact them the most.
How has the industry changed over the past 5 years?
There are so many ways, it’s hard to know where to start. Customers are starting to demand more from their utility providers: expecting more clean energy; wanting to take control of their own efficiency and carbon footprint; appetite for fine-tuned data and actionable items to take away from that data; and more.
Add to that the rise of the ‘pro-sumer,’ or a consumer who is also producing energy via solar panels or even plugging in their electric car, and you see customers becoming less an ‘end-user’ of a utility’s product and more of a partner in the entire lifecycle of a utility’s operations. It’s SUCH an exciting time for the industry.
Over the next 5 years, what key changes must utilities make in how they engage their customers?
As much as I say the industry has changed in regards to bringing customers in more as a partner, there’s definitely still plenty of work to do. For now, it’s the already engaged customers who want disaggregated data on their energy bills or who are seeking out ways to use smart home products to take better control over the energy use in their homes.
The next important step is for utilities to engage with the customers who don’t take these actions on their own through education, informational campaigns, and more. Much of this will take creativity, such as live demonstrations of technology where they can reach their customers.
Do you believe that utilities can bridge the customer engagement gap?
I think they’re already doing that. Again, there’s plenty of work left to be done, but gone are the days where customers would receive a monthly bill that they’d shrug their shoulders at and pay regardless of the cost.
Customers not only want to reduce their power bills, but they care about reducing the amount of energy they use for environmental reasons. Tapping into these desires will be critical for utilities moving forward, and there’s no sign that this shift will slow down any time soon.