Welcome Frank Carnevale: New Expert in the Energy Efficiency Community - [an Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Expert Interview]
- Jan 19, 2021 11:43 am GMT
Finding new and creative ways to optimize the use of energy, both for the sake of the utilities and the customers, has remained a core tenet of the energy sector. This focus is only becoming more important as stakeholders realize that efficiency is a critical asset in the efforts to more towards a decarbonized grid.
Forging ahead on these innovations in energy efficiency are a wide breadth of industry thought leaders, and they’ll be the ones carving out the energy sector of tomorrow. Energy Central’s Network of Experts can and should be a key tool you use to seek out these thought leaders to track developments, ask advice, and generally collaborate on the utility of the future. Recently, Energy Central had the pleasure of adding Frank Carnevale, the Founder & Managing Director of EnerStream Ventures Inc., to this Network of Experts along with his key focus area of energy efficiency.
To help introduce him to the Energy Efficiency Group of Energy Central, Frank was kind enough to discuss with me some questions I had about his work and where the energy efficiency sector is heading as a part of our Power Perspective ‘Welcome New Expert Interview Series.’
Matt Chester: Can you start by giving our community an overview of your experience and expertise? How did you get involved in the energy industry, energy efficiency specifically, and what is your role in the industry today?
Frank Carnevale: I have spent the last 21 years driving growth for other businesses and some my own platforms in all facets of energy generation, distribution, conservation, and their operations, all to move systems and customers to a lower carbon economy and transforming energy. Initially, as a consultant, we had focused much more on the energy renaissance that was taking place in Ontario, Canada, as the government spent billions of dollars to renew the energy grid and supply, followed by launching a publicly-traded company focusing on developing and maintaining energy, building controls and HVAC systems in customers’ facilities.
Having originated over $2 billion in energy transactions, including acquisitions of electric utilities and developing a 230-megawatt wind farm, much of the lasting opportunities have been centered on customer-centric energy systems. Digitalization and the growth of PropTech (real estate technology) have taken up much of my focus to deliver facilities into the 21st century with a far greater focus on AI and machine learning to drive ongoing efficiencies in building operations.
My role today is to continue to enable my investments, integration, maintenance, and scale of PropTech and bring transactive energy economy to facilities to add another win for building owners and managers to turn energy costs and liabilities into an asset. Currently, I have a number of investments that I continue to support, but primarily I am the Chief Growth Officer of Universal PropTech Inc., a publicly-traded company on the Toronto Venture Stock Exchange.
MC: The possibilities in the energy efficiency field are growing immensely with digital technologies, sensors, AI, and more. How do you envision this will impact the efficacy and breadth of energy efficiency programs?
FC: It’s a great question because there is so much change coming at such great speed that I don’t necessarily see regulated utilities adapting quickly enough to be the default providers of energy efficiency programs. I see a market that will be filled with unregulated and regulated service providers. The key is to provide the most options to customers and in the manner that they want them. As some urban markets become more competitive than others, the next phase will be more consolidation of energy service platforms. But data and data insights will be the drivers of programs. The platform that delivers tangible values to customers will be coveted by everyone else.
MC: How can utilities better personalize energy efficiency programs for different types of customers, those with varying sizes, operational patterns and needs, etc.? Is the industry using too many one size fits all solutions and will we see that changing?
FC: I don’t see any room for minor tinkering on this. I strongly believe that the regulated utility model has to change. Start at the top and switch focus to capturing the most data possible, followed by resources on generating the most data insights from the data, finally with the most customer-centric model to deliver and adapt to multi-directional transactive energy markets. I could describe it this way. If regulated utilities want to stay the most relevant in the lives of customers, they need to stay as the leading generator of energy insights compared to anyone else. Is that possible? Acquisitions are certainly one way to never fall behind.
MC: What do you think is the most challenging aspect to trying to get a customer on board with a new energy efficiency program? When it comes to technology it can be implemented directly, but how do you get the human side to engage?
FC: It’s a great question. Customers are getting on board. It’s about being as aggressive with the ones who want to be the early adopters and not lumping everyone into the same buckets. A utility cannot afford to lose its leading position as any group adopts change. It’s not easy, but the alternative is losing control of customer spend. If only 15% want to be leading edge today, then be their partners.
MC: Can you share with us what attracted you to the Energy Central community? What value do you get out of being a member, and as an Expert what value do you hope to impart to the rest of the community?
FC: There are such varying degrees of adoption of technologies across the US and Canada, and the wide range of interaction and commentary among Energy Central community provides great insights and value for everything I’m working on. It’s like having a real time focus group, on demand. Utilities are certainly pretty conservative to begin with, but Energy Central allows me to follow the leaders , react and adapt accordingly. If there is anything I can impart to the rest of the community it is the speed to which change is coming, whether the community wants it or not, and the overarching thought that status quo is not an option.
MC: What’s the major single lesson you’d want to pass onto your peers based on your experience in the efficiency space?
FC: I would say this. It’s not technology that has held everyone back. There are more than enough game-changing tech that makes customers’ lives better, but there are so few in the industry living off the revenues of this old paradigm who dare bite the hand that feeds them to integrate the technologies of the new paradigm. The opportunity.
Thanks so much to Frank Carnevale for joining me in this interview and for his joining as an Energy Efficiency expert in the Energy Central community. When you see Frank engaging with content around Energy Central, be sure to say hi, ask a question, and make him feel welcome!
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