Beyond the Meter addresses timely topics of interest to executives responsible for renewable energy procurement and distributed energy resources at Fortune 1000 companies, higher education and cities. Each episode delivers insights and information that listeners can use to make smarter energy decisions beyond the meter.
Driving Energy Innovation in Data Centers with Jay Harris and Wayne Johnson, Ep #19
In this season of Beyond the Meter, we’re taking a closer look at the meaningful impact business energy project have on the world around us. Host John Failla is joined by Jay Harris, Director of Data Center Services and Facilities for Clemson University, and Wayne Johnson, Key Segment Manager for Education at Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. They discuss their organizations’ collaboration on energy infrastructure projects and provide insights into why these projects are critical to the university’s overall success.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Data operations at Clemson [04:16] Duke Energy’s role in Clemson’s upgrades [08:10] The partnership structure [11:38] Flexible contracts that grow as the business need grows [15:54] Impactful Projects [21:11] Major benefits of Duke Energy partnerships [28:23] “Outsourcing vs right-sourcing” Key lessons and tips for innovative energy [33:07] Advice for the academic sector [37:00]
The Journey to Success In 2007, due to a breaker labeling error, Clemson University had both of its 20-year-old UPS (uninterruptible power supply) o out. That incident led the university to prioritize upgrades. The university would have needed several years to do the research required to fully understand the design and procurement to get the upgrades done. This is when Clemson turned to Duke Energy for guidance.
The university started the conversation with Duke Energy in April of 2007. By mid-November, the university had a new generator, two new UPSs, 250-ton air-cooled water chiller, and four new computer room air handlers. The university went from piecemealing together their strategy to a fully functioning infrastructure.
A Board-Approved Financing Option Clemson University worked with Duke Energy to identify areas that are ready to be improved or equipment that needs to be replaced. The university signed a 10-year agreement with Duke Energy and amortizes the cost across the length of that agreement essentially transferring CapEx to OpEx. Instead of needing the funds upfront to purchase and install equipment, the contract spreads the cost across 10 years.
This structure has made budgeting a lot easier for the university. Approval is easier with an amortization schedule vs. obtaining approval for millions of dollars upfront. Most university campuses are struggling with deferred maintenance costs, especially in facilities. Now Clemson University’s facilities team can propose a solution that removes them from the CapEx competition on campus in exchange for a little more OpEx. Not only will this help with resiliency, sustainability, and efficiency initiatives now, but it will also make sure those goals deliver across the lifespan of those assets.
An innovative business model Part of what makes Duke Energy’s contracts so successful is their flexibility. Duke Energy has its own in-house structuring, counsel, engineering, and operations teams. These teams determine what each client is good at, and then Duke Energy prices and builds solutions around what the customers do and what they need. As a company, Duke Energy wants to have relationships with customers working collaboratively to deliver solutions across time because that’s where the most significant energy savings and reliability services outcomes are found.
Considerable savings can occur when working together to develop these contracts and partnerships. Rather than simply selling a product and leaving the rest to the customer, Duke Energy is involved in the design, build, operations and maintenance phases. Working through these phases with a single vendor can save money while achieving the comprehensive outcomes, including sustainability, reliability, and resiliency.
Resources & People Mentioned Case Study: Clemson University Information Technology Center Clemson University
Note: The above project was performed by Duke Energy’s Business Energy Services team. Duke
Getting the Green Light for Energy Projects with Mark Adams, Mike York, and Wayne Johnson, Ep #18
In this episode of Beyond the Meter, host John Failla is joined by three Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions team members. Mark Adams is the Business Development Manager, Mike York is the Strategic Account Manager, and Wayne Johnson is the Key Segment Manager for Education. These experienced executives walk through practical steps toward gaining approval for resiliency projects.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Understanding the project [02:21] Making the business case for a project [05:59] The “Money Authority Need” concept [10:14] Barriers to communication [15:21] The DISC profile [20:34] Building consensus [24:03] Risk-adjusted cost [30:22] Before the C-suite meeting [39:58] Making the business case Achieving internal buy-in for energy managers is a common challenge. Many projects miss the mark on this critical first step in making the business case for a project. Fully understanding the project, need, and goal will lead to precisely what’s necessary for a project to achieve that goal. Starting with the end in mind and understanding the process will direct how the project is communicated.
Everyone has different communication styles, so choosing the right person to present varies by initiative. Typically, engineers can speak to engineers and do a reasonably good job communicating with finance. Still, many engineers would find it a challenge to translate an initiative into business results and talk to executives. The presentation must be succinct, with further data ready for when there are deeper questions. The goal is to give people the information they need to make a reasonable decision and not drown them in detail and minutiae. With data, details can become muddled in the impact, degrading the target outcome’s importance.
Begin with consensus The default starting point for many projects has been receiving approval from finance. However, finance tends to wait to follow after the authority has expressed initial interest. At that time, a higher priority is placed on the project, and the project will receive more support. The entry point has to be with the individual with the need. Finance tends to look for a simple payback or some framework that may not apply well regarding the replacement of assets. The presenter will need to present the initiative in such a way as to anticipate and overcome objections.
Finance finds comfort in consensus. If approached with a project that already has people from various departments working together to push it forward, finance is much more likely to join. Finance will need cost comparisons, asset lift management expectations, and expenses. Anticipating these questions means knowing the people in finance and how they communicate.
Consider the wider audience When proposing a project to your business, the decision-makers are the primary audience. Often overlooked are the people who don’t have the authority to approve a project yet affect how the project proposal is received. Considering these different perspectives and bringing them on board is crucial in making the business case for a project.
Success is unlikely if a solution doesn’t receive support from the engineering, facilities, and finance departments. This concept applies in other industries as well. In education, the sustainability officer doesn’t typically have much money to spend or authority to leverage but is influential in the process. Being attuned to the broader audience will help gain the project’s approval and its overall success.
Resources & People Mentioned Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions com Connect With Our Guests Mark Adams - Business Development Manager
Mark’s experience with Duke Energy and Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions through his multiple roles has given him the opportunity to meet, listen and understand, through countless customer meetings across a wide spectrum of industries, the challenges and the ever-changing world they live and compete in daily. T
Collaborating to Drive Diversity in Clean Energy with Darrell Booker, Cheryl Comer, and Tracey Woods
This episode is made in partnership with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions.
In this season of Beyond the Meter, we’re taking a closer look at the meaningful impact renewable energy projects have on the world around us. In this episode, host John Failla is joined by Darrell Booker, Corporate Affairs Specialist leading the Nonprofit Tech Acceleration Program for Black and African American Communities (NTA) at Microsoft Philanthropies, Cheryl Comer, Senior Strategic Account Manager - Duke Energy, and Tracy Woods, VP, Operations - American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), to talk about their collaborative efforts on the recently created Diversity In Clean Energy (DiCE) initiative. DiCE, a program to advance equity in clean energy, is an initiative sponsored by Duke Energy’s Strategic Account Management Program. Listen in to learn more about the progress being made to promote diversity in the energy industry.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... AABE’s current activities and work [07:37] Microsoft’s Nonprofit Tech Acceleration Program [16:26] Duke Energy’s Diversity in Clean Energy (DiCE) Program and NTA for Black and African American Communities at Microsoft Philanthropies [20:39] The benefit of effective collaboration [25:26] The roles of the organizations in DiCE [36:46] The potential of the new DiCE | AABE platform [44:17] Making America stronger through diversity [51:54] The American Association of Blacks in Energy For nearly 45 years, the American Association of Blacks in Energy (ABBE) has focused on energy policy and the impact of those policies on communities of color. They work on policies and professional development to ensure that their members can be cultural ambassadors in the communities where they live and work. AABE receives many calls from employers seeking diverse talent. To serve this need, they provide scholarships and programs for high school and middle school students interested in careers in the energy field, job postings through their newly revamped Career Center, and numerous programs like Black Energy Awareness Month.
The Diversity in Clean Energy (DiCE) Initiative DiCE is a program sponsored by Duke Energy to drive visibility and open doors of opportunity for diverse suppliers in the clean energy field. At Duke Energy, DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is a business imperative inspiring how they work with employees, customers and their communities. They’re taking intentional action for the good of both the community and business.
The idea for DiCE was sparked by a request from T-Mobile via their Energy and Sustainability Program Manager, Amy Bond, who asked Cheryl what Duke Energy was doing to identify, train, track and utilize diverse suppliers. This question inspired Cheryl to open the conversation to her other strategic accounts, as she knew they would all benefit from this conversation around diversity, equity, inclusion, and how that relates to clean energy. Through these discussions, she realized that there was ample opportunity, interest and need for the resources supported by the DiCE initiative.
Collaboration in the energy industry The energy industry is in the midst of a massive transformation. As one of the largest utilities in the United States, Duke Energy has an obligation to provide reliable, affordable, and increasingly cleaner energy to customers and communities. One of the most efficient ways to initiate change is by cross-industry leaders coming together, pooling resources, and solving complex problems.
While many corporations realize that they want to work with diverse suppliers, they don’t know where to start. The ultimate goal of the DiCE | AABE platform is to facilitate the inclusion of diverse suppliers into mainstream corporate supply chains and to eliminate systemic barriers. Everyone in this collaboration has something different to bring to the table: Duke Energy has the means, AABE has the connections, and Micr
The State of Community Solar with Terri Dalmer and Owen Grant
In this episode of Beyond the Meter, host John Failla is joined by Terri Dalmer, Vice President of Solar Business Development at CleanChoice Energy, and Owen Grant, Business Development Manager at Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. They discuss the broad impact community solar can have on businesses and diverse communities nationwide. You won’t want to miss the insights and reflections they have to share from their over 30 years of experience.
This episode is made in partnership with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Growth of community solar [03:52] Massachusetts’ Rowtier project [08:27] Duke Energy and CleanChoice [11:28] Requirements unique to Massachusetts [13:29] What involved Duke Energy in solar? [15:35] The benefits of community solar projects [19:25] The future of community solar [24:23] What is community solar? Community solar consists of facilities that produce less than five megawatts of electrical capacity. It allows residents, small businesses, and other organizations, such as municipalities, to receive credit on their electricity bills for the power produced by these solar arrays. It differs from residential solar in that it is an off-site project with no financial investment from a consumer and serves multiple levels of subscriber offtake.
The impressive growth of solar is due to the diligent policy work at the state level, where legislation is being supported to expand the renewable market. The dynamics of state programs are a significant influence on solar’s success. Currently, about 19 states and DC have a wide variety of programs. Some of the newest markets coming on board currently are Virginia, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. Solar is a dynamic and growing market that offers a lot of opportunities.
Community solar projects in Massachusetts Massachusetts provides an excellent opportunity to work on ground-mount, front-of-meter projects. A nice feature of the Massachusetts program is that these projects can be operated either as community solar or by directly selling electricity to utility companies. Duke Energy found this quite an attractive project, deciding that the community solar route made more sense financially. That’s how Duke came to work with CleanChoice as a subscription management company to bring in small customers.
Duke Energy and CleanChoice Duke Energy is a best-in- class company, so they needed a best-in-class collaborator to help with their community solar pilot project. They’ve been pleased with the relationship with CleanChoice and their ability to help Duke Energy navigate the ins and outs of the community solar program’s SMART (Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target) element as well as the utility coordination. Together they’ve created a model project that other companies should consider.
One of the values of Duke Energy is serving its communities. With community solar, the benefits are kept local. It’s an opportunity for both the small and large customers in a community to participate in the project. Having a large anchor tenant allows the project to open up to customers that might not otherwise be qualified to participate in a solar project. The local element of these projects provides a kind of equity of access to renewables as part of the energy transition.
Resources & People Mentioned Solar Energy Industries Association: SEIA Alternative On-Bill Credit FAQ April 2019 Connect With Our Guests Terri Dalmer - Vice President of Solar Business Development at CleanChoice Energy
Terri Dalmer is Vice President of Solar Business Development at CleanChoice Energy, responsible for overseeing a community solar management services portfolio as well evaluating market expansion opportunities and partnerships with solar as it relates to both management services and project development. Ms. Dalmer has over 20 years of experience in the energy and commodities fields with sales roles at Morgan Stanley and Con
Innovation through Electrification, with Diana Kotler
This episode is made in partnership with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions.
In this season of Beyond the Meter, we’re taking a closer look at the meaningful impact renewable energy projects have on the world around us. Industry guests discuss how their cleaner energy transitions are driving change, both within their organization and the larger community. Our guest for this episode is Diana Kotler, Executive Director at Anaheim Transportation Network. Host John Failla and Diana discuss one of the hottest topics in the industry: fleet electrification. Diana has extraordinary insights and experience on the topic that we’re excited to share. Listen in to learn more.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... The drivers for Anaheim Transportation Network [04:00] The community and social benefits of electrification [10:01] Anaheim’s transportation fleet [13:57] Community reactions to electric transportation [15:50] The infrastructure needed for electrification [18:06] The benefit of microgrids [25:52] Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions’s role in Anaheim [28:45] Obstacles in expansion [31:12] The finances of electrification [39:01] Early motivation for electrification Diana is from Southern California, which is known to have the worst air quality in the nation. To ensure that the air remains liveable and breathable, the City of Anaheim had to find alternatives to fossil fuels. They looked to electrification in order to improve air quality and ensure that their developments would allow the city to continue to depend on tourism and convention business. This combined approach created the opportunity to generate local revenues and taxes, which, in turn, provide services to the community.
Interestingly, while the electrification effort in Anaheim started with a focus on air quality and health benefits, most organizations today are getting involved because of the need to decarbonize operations. While they did discuss fossil fuels and reduced carbon footprint, those were just peripheral discussions at the time. Diane says it doesn’t matter so much where the emphasis is placed, as long as the work provides a better environment for future generations.
Community impact Anaheim is on its way to becoming the largest operator of electric buses in Southern California. The city is also beginning to integrate some twelve-passenger electric vans into the fleet for on-demand services that don’t require as much capacity as a bus. They also have 10 slow-speed smaller vehicles that operate in neighborhoods connecting schools, libraries, and eateries downtown. Altogether the city serves about 10 million passengers annually.
The service for the smaller vehicles is called FRAN: Free Rides Around the Neighborhood. It is based in the Colony district of the city, which is rooted in tradition and history. When FRAN was introduced in the neighborhood, it was an immediate success. As FRAN began to go deeper into the neighborhoods, people started asking when it could serve this park or that area. People were fighting to have FRAN serve their community. While capacity declined due to the pandemic, service is slowly but surely being reinstated.
Overcoming challenges in electrification The technical expertise and guidance of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions has been immeasurably valuable to the City of Anaheim. DESS had the in-depth experience connecting a public sector participant with private capital that the city didn’t have the reach to achieve. Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions supports operations and ensures that the infrastructure is robust. The partnership of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions and the City of Anaheim means that the Anaheim Transportation Network operates not only today but also twenty years into the future.
As more vehicles are added to Anaheim’s fleet, infrastructure needs to adapt. For example, if the city were to switch to another bus manufacturer, the charging technology and chargers wou
The Power of Resiliency with Ann Kloose, Michael Kilpatrick, and Whit Remer
This episode is made in partnership with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions.
Municipalities across the U.S. experience any number of challenges when building infrastructure projects and energy solutions, but one of the biggest is building with future needs in mind. The issues of resilience and sustainability are front and center in this undertaking, and the guests on this episode are on the front lines of the fight.
Join John Failla of Smart Energy Decisions as he hosts a conversation about resilience and sustainability, with his guests Ann Kloose, City of Fresno Manager of Sustainability; Whit Remer, City of Tampa Sustainability and Resilience Officer; and Michael Kilpatrick, Key Segment Manager for State and Local Governments at Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Ann’s past experience and role in the City of Fresno [1:54] Whit’s past experience and role with the City of Tampa [3:23] Michael’s past experience and role with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions [5:16] How does resiliency play into an overall sustainability plan? [6:19] What is happening in municipalities across the U.S. [9:51] How infrastructure can be designed in adaptable and user-friendly ways [16:55] The biggest challenges in building future-ready projects [26:54] Unifying stakeholders around common goals [31:21] Specific projects happening in Fresno and Tampa [33:56] Trends being seen across the United States [40:49] How social equity figures into resiliency [43:33] How do Resiliency and Sustainability work together? In Whit Remer’s view, resiliency is the top-line of any sustainability plan. It requires looking at the shocks and stressors that affect the community being served. He says the acronym, E.S.G. — the Environmental, Social, and Governance measurement of energy solutions — is a helpful way to remember what resiliency is all about. Sustainability comes into the picture when the Environmental area is considered. How can we take care of the water, land, and air in a community? A good resiliency plan should include sustainability initiatives to ensure that the provision of energy for the community is not damaging the area, and in fact, is helping to improve the community.
There’s a “Resiliency Movement” happening in municipalities across the U.S. Michael Kilpatrick has the opportunity to see and hear what a variety of communities across the U.S. are doing to increase both the resiliency and sustainability of their energy solutions. He says that in the past, the two were often not tied together. But things are changing now, due to the impacts of COVID and a growing realization that sustainability and resilience support each other. This new approach is benefiting communities across the nation.
Community-wide, resiliency is simply defined as improving the quality of life across the entire population. As an example, the design of streets has an amazing impact on a community. Do they include protected bike lanes? Are they complete and well maintained? Are they aesthetically pleasing? Do they include walking trails or sidewalks as part of their design? These factors and many others create vibrant, connected neighborhoods that provide access to businesses, community features, and public services conveniently and easily.
The biggest challenges when building future-ready projects It’s impossible to predict the future, but municipalities have been attempting to wisely forecast future needs when planning infrastructure and improvements. But working to meet future needs doesn’t happen without challenges. Communities around the nation are finding common roadblocks such as…
Communicating effectively about budgetary and timeline needs for large scale projects such as solar arrays Many governments still operate in “siloed” ways, with each department competing with the others for budget, resources, etc., when the real need is for cooperation and coordination between
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