Risk Adversity

At a conference of utilities, non-profits, and private energy efficiency companies last week I posed the question to a panel of utility veterans: “Why are utilities so risk averse?  What is the worst that would happen if you failed trying something new?”  The immediate response from one panelist was the “imagine the headline on the front page of the paper” line, and the common “our customer – our ratepayers – are our owners and we need to be very diligent with their dollars”, etc…

The utility energy efficiency world is evolving, and has some real challenges ahead.  I’m surprises at the disconnect between the rhetoric about innovation and the evidence that I witness in the speed at which new programs come out. I’d like to see ten new business model ideas a year.  I hardly see any.


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