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Episode #74 'Understanding What Renters Need from Their Utilities' With Nathan Shannon, CEO of Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative, and Elizabeth Moore, Manager of Commercial Energy Solutions at TVA [an Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast]

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The ‘Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast’ features conversations with thought leaders in the utility sector. Each two weeks we’ll connect with an Energy Central Power Industry Network...

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When it comes to offering unique programs and key opportunities for upgrades, the utility industry has typically seen the lowest hanging fruit at commercial buildings or with homeowners in the residential sector. These customers own and operate their buildings, they are the ones solely paying the power bills, and they have the authority (and often the means) to invest in upgrades like efficiency improvements, on-site generation and energy storage, and more. For too long, though, that has left an unfortunate blind spot for key utility programs: renters in the residential sector.

Households that rent their homes have been the least tapped into traditionally by utilities because they don't have the aforementioned advantages, but the unfortunate irony is that these are the customers that often carry the most significant energy burden and could thus most benefit from assistance to bring down their power bills. Addressing the unique characteristics, needs, and opportunities of the home rental market has gained favor recently, even leading to the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC) publishing their report "Understanding the Needs and Wants of Renters." This study has already become a key tool for numerous utilities to reevaluate how they were approaching this key demographic. To highlight the findings of this study, podcast host Jason Price and producer Matt Chester are joined by SECC's CEO, Nathan Shannon. To really drive home the impact this area of study has on the utilities, they are also joined by Elizabeth Moore, Manager of Commercial Energy Solutions at Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to discuss what changes they've been able to implement as a result.

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Thanks to the sponsor of this episode of the Energy Central Power Perspectives Podcast: West Monroe

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TRANSCRIPT

Jason Price: 

Hello, and welcome to this week's episode of The Energy Central Power Perspectives Podcast, the show that brings leading minds to discuss the latest challenges and trends transforming and modernizing the energy systems and the utility of the future. And a quick thank you to West Monroe, our sponsor of today's show. Now let's talk energy.

Jason Price: 

On today's show, we're going to be joined by a pair of guests speaking to a critical issue in the world of utilities, identifying how to tap into the unique positions, motivations and challenges that the residential rental market has when considering energy efficiency programs. Matt, can you set the stage for us on this a bit? Why might utilities be thinking anew about efficiency in the rental market?

Matt Chester:
Sure, Jason. Well, we know that more than a third of households in America rent rather than own their homes and the pandemic really highlighted some new ways people were interacting with their homes, working and schooling from home and the energy use patterns being upended.

Matt Chester:
So you add on top of that, the likelihood for a renting household to be lower income and the burdens of energy bills could be greater, all without as much agency to make changes like installing more efficient appliances, upgrading the building envelope or installing solar panels, because all these are solutions that could be expensive, arduous to get approved, and honestly, have payback periods that extend well longer than the rental agreements themselves.

Matt Chester:
So this all paints a picture where the rental market, it's more urgent than ever to address for stakeholders in energy and because of that, I'm excited to hear more about it in our conversations today.

Jason Price:
Yeah, me too, and thanks for that. And to learn more about this with our experts, we have two guests to speak on this topic, coming from a pair of organizations that saw the need to address this market, brought to it their unique experiences. So first we're happy to welcome Nathan Shannon, the president and CEO of Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative, or SECC.

Jason Price:
Nathan has been with the SECC since 2015 and is thus, always at the lead of conversations related to the consumer side of the power sector. In fact, in recent months, SECC specifically studied consumer energy trends in the rental market and ultimately put out their full report, entitled Understanding the Needs and Wants of Renters.

Jason Price:
We're eager to hear directly from Nathan about what the conclusions of this report were, why it was put out in the first place and what actions he's already seen and hopes to continue to see from the power providers in response. Nathan, welcome to The Energy Central Power Perspectives Podcast.

Nathan Shannon:
Thank you, Jason. I appreciate you having me.

Jason Price:
And joining the conversation as well is a leader in the utility space who happens to have already taken some of the steps outlined in the SEC report. In fact, this guest's organization was one of the key sponsors who commissioned the study in the first place.

Jason Price:
Elizabeth Moore is the manager of Commercial Energy Solutions at Tennessee Valley Authority or TVA. Having been at TVA since 2004, Elizabeth is in the trenches recognizing what the low hanging efficiency fruit has been and more importantly, identifying the tough nuts to crack such as the renter's market. We're eager to hear her perspective on the SEC renter's report and how it has informed TVA approaches since then. Elizabeth, thank you as well for joining today's podcast.

Elizabeth Moore:
Thank you. Glad to be here.

Jason Price:
So let's start with Nathan. Nathan, I want to give our listeners some background. So for those who may not already be familiar with the SEC can you share with us what your mission is and the type of activities you undertake toward those goals?

Nathan Shannon:
Sure thing. So the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative is a nonprofit research organization that started in 2010 to gather consumer values and perceptions and motivations around smart energy technology, energy efficiency programs, and the relationship between the customer and their energy provider. So we have a three part mission. Our goal is to listen to customers and understand those needs and wants and deliver those to the energy community. We do that through primary consumer research by surveying about 10 to 15,000 US and Canadian customers per year.

Nathan Shannon:
We have an education and outreach part of our mission, which is to educate customers and grow awareness around different energy offerings and services and programs that they could participate in and grow engagement. And then we also have the collaboration portion, which is in our name and that's to bring together the diverse types of members that participate in our organization.

Nathan Shannon:
So we have about 160 membership, our members who are part of our organization. They are mostly from utilities and energy providers, but we also bring in the service providers and technology companies and consultants who work on consumer programs with utilities. And then finally, we bring in the consumer advocates and the regulatory agencies around the nation to all have a seat at the table and come up with the needs for research and education around consumer engagement in the energy space.

Jason Price:
Great. It sounds like you're filling in a critical goal for the industry, which brings us to the renter study. What was the conversation that led to studying energy trends and behaviors in the rental market?

Nathan Shannon:
So residential renters are a group of customers that often are the hardest to engage around energy programs or offerings. They have many barriers, as Matt mentioned before, and our members really wanted to know how best to reach these customers and what types of programs would be most appealing to them. And as Matt also mentioned, more than a third of Americans, it actually has gone up a little bit since that stat, that was from 2020.

Nathan Shannon:
We're actually almost at 40% of Americans who rent rather than own their homes. And the tenants often lack the authority to make upgrades their to homes. So control over their energy consumption is regulated towards their own behavioral changes or simple improvements that they could make, and also any type of utility or energy provider program participation.

Nathan Shannon:
Another reason that was a timely need for this project was that renters have ... there's an extreme lack of inventory in the rental market and a really high demand for housing in general, across the US. So landlords right now are able to charge premium rent without doing many improvements to the properties or making them energy efficient or weatherization, things like that. They're able to still rent out those units very easily at a high rate. So it gives renters less of a choice and less control over having an efficient property. So basically forced, especially the low to moderate income renters, into properties that have higher energy burdens than normal.

Jason Price:
So let's bring Elizabeth into the conversation. So Elizabeth, help us understand the EnergyRight Solutions program at TVA. Can you level set for the audience what this was all about?

Elizabeth Moore:
Sure thing. TVA is the nation's largest public power producer. Our mission, since we were founded as part of the New Deal back in 1933, is to improve quality of life in the Tennessee Valley. And we do that through what we call our three E's of energy, environment and economic development.

Elizabeth Moore:
Our EnergyRight group focuses on the energy E, where we focus on smart ways to use energy. This includes incentive programs for new homes, single family retrofit, financing low income energy efficiency improvements and energy education advice for all residential consumer users. Our residential programs are offered in partnership with our 153 local power companies throughout the seven state Valley area in the Southeast. These local power companies help us fulfill our mission of the three E's and lately we've been focusing on engaging more stakeholders within the community to help meet the needs within that community.

Elizabeth Moore:
Within the EnergyRight group, I help manage the budget, staffing and resources that we need to run a residential energy program throughout the Valley. Part of my role is I evaluate emerging needs from our customers and research ways TVA can meet those needs and help create sustainable programs. A few years ago, we started looking at the renter segment and finding an offering for the multifamily space is something we've been searching for for several years.

Elizabeth Moore:
Our local power companies have been asking, gosh, for at least the last five to 10 years, since I've been working with them on one-to-one. They always wanted an offering for renters and renters have always been a difficult segment to reach, especially within TVA, because are they the commercial side? Are they residential side? Obviously, the buildings are more of the commercial, but their usage and their load shape is more residential. So we have really been wanting and looking at this renter segment for a long time. And it's really a response to our power companies, to our customers. They really are wanting to find something that we can address to help serve the renters throughout the Valley.

Jason Price:
I appreciate that. Maybe we can dig a little bit further regarding the renters' market. Were they treated differently than other segments of the market, or were they getting overlooked? What types of gaps and knowledge did you feel the utility side of the business had about the rental market that warranted the commission of this report?

Elizabeth Moore:
We know from research that renters are a huge market, as many as 21 million households nationwide. Historically, our residential programs have served single family homeowners because of the split incentive issue involving renters and landlords. We've addressed this in other programs by enabling renters to participate in our programs with the co-application with the landlord.

Elizabeth Moore:
So we're trying to address it where we can, but for multifamily buildings, these apartment communities, that's where we had a big gap in our programming. Like I said, at TVA we've struggled to determine where the multifamily incentive program should reside, the residential portfolio or the commercial portfolio.

Elizabeth Moore:
But in the last couple of years, we've been partnering, through a pilot, with several property owner and management groups in the affordable housing sector to pilot a program we call the Community Power Challenge. As part of the Community Power Challenge this is really a multifamily strategic energy management approach to engaging a larger multifamily community or building with advice on the O&M maintenance as well as residential energy efficiency education.

Jason Price:
That's great. Thank you. So Nathan, let's pull you back in, walk us through the process. What was the methodology of the study?

Nathan Shannon:
Sure. So this was a three part study. A quantitative portion was the first portion was surveying 1000 US renters who are the primary person responsible for paying and controlling the energy within their home. The second was a group of in-depth interviews with landlords, and these were residential landlords, to understand what they would be willing to do, what they've heard from their renters as far as improvements on the property, interest in installing maybe it could be electric vehicle chargers, or it could be smart appliances.

Nathan Shannon:
Have they been able to charge more rent for these? Have they attracted more tenants by doing these types of improvements or upgrades? Is it an offering that they typically present to their tenant? So that's how we started it out. We used some conjoint analysis research or discrete choice analysis. It basically forces a customer or a respondent to the survey to make choices and trade-offs as they answer the questions on what they would be willing to give up, whether it's comfort or convenience or money, savings, things like that, as they're talking about their interest or awareness of these different smart energy technologies and different offerings.

Nathan Shannon:
And there were mainly four questions that we wanted to answer from the research. And the first was what are renters attitudes towards energy and the environment, technically what energy programs or offerings are renters aware of and what's their interest in participating, or what barriers would they need to overcome? And then thirdly, what types of energy efficiency technology would appeal to renters when choosing the property and does that weigh into their decision process when searching for a new home? And then finally, what is their interest to pay more for specific features in a rental property?

Jason Price:
Okay, great. All right. So now the drum roll, critical question. What were the conclusions? What outcome did you find from the study and what new recommendations were you able to offer utility companies like the TVA?

Nathan Shannon:
So there were three main findings that we found from the research and the first was that renters understand the benefits of saving energy on a very implicit level. So part of the analysis included implicit association testing, IAT, which basically takes not only into account how a consumer answers the question on what their response is, but also how long they thought about that question.

Nathan Shannon:
So these were online surveys. We can test that. And when you answer a question very quickly, subconsciously it's something that you agree with wholeheartedly. You didn't have to think about it. So it weighs a little bit more into the actual results. And that's something that anyone who reads our full reports can take a look at, as far as the stats there. But renters overall know that saving energy saves them money on a subconscious level. It's the top attitudinal statement. And it's the prime reason why renters show interest in any of the energy programs and offerings that we talk to them about in the survey.

Nathan Shannon:
So this is followed by an understanding of the environmental benefits of saving energy and of being more sustainable. And overall renters showed a greater concern for the environment and want to be more socially responsible for future generations than the general population. So that's something that the environmental side of things, clean energy, associating electrification with slowing climate change is something that resonated more with renters than it did with homeowners when we compare it to our homeowner surveys.

Nathan Shannon:
The second thing that we learned was that tech savvy consumers and low income renters are facing the most financial challenges. So the tech savvy customers have higher energy bills and are more likely to delay or deprioritize paying their electric bill than any other consumer segment. The tech savvy renters also have the same proportion of lower income individuals as other renter segments. There's quite a few folks in the tech savvy segment that are low income, part of that is due to age. This is a younger bracket of consumers. Some of them are just starting out, a lot of millennials in this group who are renters.

Nathan Shannon:
So they have quite a few low to moderate income customers in that group. So this defers from the general population, when we're looking at consumers overall. Also, the lower income renters face more bill challenges. Obviously, that's something that their energy burden is much higher. Their utilities overall are their third highest monthly bill. So they do have more concerns about the bill pay in general, and that increased their interest in energy efficiency programs or any type of assistance around reducing their energy usage.

Nathan Shannon:
And then thirdly, we saw the interest is high, but participation in energy programs and offerings is very low. It's renters face many barriers. So this one might be obvious, but we really wanted to dive into why, what these barriers are, so then we could fully address them. The renters want to participate in energy programs and offerings, but their providers are often unable to offer programs that will meet those needs since they are in properties that might have restrictions due to their landlords. So the challenges are usually a lack of information and getting approval from their landlords and renters also have difficulty navigating and understanding what they'll need to do in getting their landlords on board.

Nathan Shannon:
So any type of program that a utility can partner with landlords, multi-family property owners to bridge that gap and open the door for renters to be involved in a program or offering will encourage much more participation. We saw some fear from consumers in approaching their landlords about asking for upgrades, or maybe it's smart appliances, smart thermostat, but if a program can be developed in partnership with the utility and multifamily property owners and landlords, that will, like I said, really open the door for those customers for participation.

Jason Price:
I mean, I got to say that's really fascinating insight. So Elizabeth, now it's over to you. I mean, what did you feel when you learned this new information and then how did that help direct you towards some of the actual outcomes in the meantime?

Elizabeth Moore:
Well, this study really reinforced some of the trends we were seeing in the pilot. In the pilot we may have encountered a few of the attitudes or trends that we were like, "Interesting", but then having this study, it really helped us evaluate and realize, "Wow, that is an issue. So we need to focus on that in some of our programs."


Elizabeth Moore:
First of all, just to reiterate what Nathan said that renters want to do the right thing for the environment. That is something we've encountered in our programs, in our workshops that we had in our pilot. But of course, they have limitations on what they can do at their home. We actually did a workshop in a high rise apartment building in Nashville and near downtown Nashville. It's a single meter, meaning the utility costs were wrapped into the rent. So there is no clear impact of behavior in their energy bill.

Elizabeth Moore:
However, that workshop, we had more questions than I have ever encountered in any workshop. The residents, they had so many questions. It went over by 30 minutes just to answer questions about what they can do to save energy. They wanted to know what was the right way to do something. Should you turn off a light when you leave a room? Should you set a thermostat at a certain level? Should you turn off your TV when you leave a room? These are really basic behavioral ...

Elizabeth Moore:
However, they weren't paying their bill. They wanted to know so that they could help the environment. They just didn't know what they were supposed to do. And this was, I guess my aha moment that we have overlooked the rental market for years in our marketing advice on energy use. This is what drew me to the study in the first place, that there's a lot about the rental market that we don't know.

Elizabeth Moore:
The second thing that I learned from this study was that the engagement of property management as the inroad to reaching these communities is essential for a successful program. That is the approach we took with our pilot. It's the SEM approach where we started with O&M education and engaging the O&M staff in learning about their programs. We provided technical audit and then used that technical audit to start showing and guiding them through ways that they can save energy.

Elizabeth Moore:
And a lot of the staff had very little knowledge about the energy use in their building. They were mostly focused on keeping the maintenance, repairing the doors or repairing the flooring, is appliance not working, but engaging the landlord and property managers was huge in our pilot. Additionally, what we brought to the table to each meeting was a local power company representative, and giving the apartment community access to an energy specialist at their local utility was really huge.

Elizabeth Moore:
Case-in-point, several of our communities actually in our pilot, did not understand what a demand charge was and how that impacted their energy use of their whole apartment community and all the buildings in their community. So having an energy specialist from a utility to come and explain that to them was very, very essential. Plus, it gave the apartment community somebody they could call directly at the utility when they had questions. So it really helped create a strong relationship between the utility and the community.

Jason Price:
Yeah, that's great. I was going to make the comment that the term, the phrase demand charge is such utility speak and it's not the friendliest term to say to someone who has never heard it before, demand charge.

Elizabeth Moore:
Yeah.

Jason Price:
But stay with you, Elizabeth. Talk to us about, how does this all fit into the overall goals in the big picture at TVA? And are you measuring success in terms of just the bigger metrics that you're being evaluated on from an energy efficiency standpoint?

Elizabeth Moore:
Well, we are proceeding with a multifamily SEM program. We're doing a second pilot right now in the Memphis market. And next year, we're planning to convert this into a full program offering that we can offer two more areas throughout the Valley. This report actually helped confirm several components that we tested in the pilot and helped give our pilot more legitimacy that helped us push it more towards the program side of the house. So I'm real excited that we're seeing that expand more internally and it's an offering throughout to our customers in the Valley, and we're able to devote some resources to it and some funding to it to continue this outreach effort.

Elizabeth Moore:
One of the things we're including in our programming is the advice and timing on engagement with landlords on efficiency upgrades. Landlords make upgrades when a unit turns over. So if we wanted to beef up, go beyond educational to incentive base, we need to understand that incentives for any kind of multifamily program needs to be flexible. The one thing, it's easy to in and say, "We need to see, we need to obtain a certain energy saving in this timeframe." And going to multifamily unit, that's not a very reasonable expectation because a multifamily is not going to move people out and around just to make upgrades, unless it's part of a bigger upgrade.

Elizabeth Moore:
So timing incentives is going to be important with a realistic expectation of what we're going to get from them. We've started to measure success on two fundamental metrics, reducing energy burden, and we did some study and analysis on energy burden of some of our participants in the pilot. And we also are putting more focus on carbon reduction outcomes for this program, for a lot of our programs, but this one as well. Again, that goes back to our mission of energy, environment and development.

Elizabeth Moore:
And we've also recently added more behavioral marketing collateral to our library that local utilities can use to target rental communities. That means not so much, "Here, upgrade your HVAC or add insulation", but it's more, "Hey, turn off your TV instead of the light. You're going to save more money when you leave a room." Those kind of tips. TVA has increased our inventory of marketing information that we can target a renter community.

Elizabeth Moore:
And the final thing is the section on EVs was insightful. We're in the process of an aggressive program to install chargers throughout major corridors in the Southeast. And this provided insight into the need for chargers at apartment buildings. And we've actually been seeing this discussion at some of our working groups for EV expansion strategies. So I definitely have shared this along internally on our EV groups about how we don't want to leave the apartment building market behind. However, there are challenges, and I know that those challenges are being discussed internally with some of our local power utility work groups.

Jason Price:
Thank you for that. Before we go to the lightning round, which is where we have some fun here. I do want to slip in one more question and the question is for both Nathan and Elizabeth. In your research, were you able to identify, or in your opinion, how well does the end customer actually understand the economics of the business? In other words, TVA is telling customers to use less energy and yet intuitively the customer's thinking, "Well, why would they tell me that? Don't they make more money when I'm buying more of their energy?"

Nathan Shannon:
Yeah, I can start with that. So in this study in particular, that's not something that we took a deep dive into. We did understand, as Elizabeth and I both have said, that consumers, especially renters are really resonating with the environmental benefits in doing the right thing. But there was another study that SECC took on in 2020 called beneficial electrification was to look at what do customers want and need? And that, one of the major findings from that study was the fact that consumers are starting to make that connection between what the overall goals of decarbonization and these renewable goals that are being put out by cities and by their utilities.

Nathan Shannon:
They are making the connection between their own usage and in that particular study, it was looking at electrification within the home around heating, water heating, electric vehicles, electric transportation, that type of thing, cooking. They were seeing what their ... understanding what their behaviors and usage patterns could do to affect the overall revenue, like you said, the financial side of things. There's not really a much strong understanding of capital investments and what that does to the rate base, that type of thing.

Nathan Shannon:
But there is an understanding of, if we can reduce energy usage overall we may not have to build another plant or as far as less need for generation or turning a peaker plant, something like that. And I think there's definitely a need for more education on that side of things, because it isn't something that always comes top-of-mind, because I think, it sometimes can be a little confusing that your electricity provider is trying to help you save energy. But with the growing education that has been happening, utilities have been doing much better with their marketing and really helping consumers understand those goals are, we have seen a big shift just in the last two to three years.

Jason Price:
Fascinating work you're both doing. Elizabeth, did you have something to add to that?

Elizabeth Moore:
I think Nathan answered it great. That what he said about consumers' interest in understanding their ... the impact of their behavior on the climate, I think a lot of our consumers know it's the right thing to do. However, most of the motivation is probably driven by the dollar, the bottom line. I recently did a market penetration research and we're seeing a higher increase in interest in energy, primarily due to energy costs. So as we're seeing utility costs are rising along with everything else, that we're seeing a little more interest in our programs.

Elizabeth Moore:
I don't think a lot of consumers under understand the mechanics of why we would offer energy efficiency programs. We offer them because it may help us trim our load, our demand shape, especially in the residential sector. So we're very careful of what we want to incentivize that we're not going to contribute to and even of our peaking areas in our residential programs, but our focus has really shifted to energy equity.

Elizabeth Moore:
And in the last two years through several of our programs, that were where we target income qualified consumers through home upgrades, and a lot of that is funded with community funding. So we're bringing a lot more attention to the energy equity, but I think we're going to start seeing more interest in energy efficiency from the non-low income sector, especially as energy costs are starting to rise.

Jason Price:
Terrific. Well, thank you for that. So, as I mentioned now we're approaching the fun round, which is the lightning round, where we get to ask you some questions that help us understand the people behind the work that you're doing. So a little bit more about you as a person, as opposed to you as the professional. So I'll ask a question, Elizabeth, you want to go first and then Nathan, if you'd like to follow up. So first question is, favorite late night snack?

Elizabeth Moore:
Oh, good. Cheese.

Nathan Shannon:
I would say mine is white cheddar popcorn. That's my favorite. So it's cheese and popcorn related, mixed together.

Jason Price:
What time of day are you most productive?

Elizabeth Moore:
9:00 PM.

Nathan Shannon:
Mine is the exact opposite. I am most productive in the morning. Throughout the day I just feel like I start fading more and more, especially after lunch. I would say the 1:00 to 2:00 hour is my least productive time, right after lunch.

Jason Price:
Yeah. Elizabeth, we're going need to understand your secret.

Nathan Shannon:
Yeah.

Elizabeth Moore:
It's just a late night burst of energy.

Jason Price:
Your second or third wind. I understand it. Okay.

Elizabeth Moore:
Yeah.

Jason Price:
Next. Yeah, next question. Share with us something that's on your bucket list.

Elizabeth Moore:
Me, Greece. I've always wanted to go to Greece.

Nathan Shannon:
Oh, that's a good one. Actually on my bucket list, I'd love to see the Northern Lights at some point. I was planning on doing that in 2020, but obviously things moved a little bit around. So that's, I'd like to get that back on the list soon.

Jason Price:
What would you be doing if not working in the energy sector?

Elizabeth Moore:
I'd love to own a bakery. I love baking, especially late at night.

Nathan Shannon:
So it's the sugar that gives you that second burst of energy.

Elizabeth Moore:
Carbs.

Nathan Shannon:
Yeah. Sugar and carbs. Yeah. I think for me, probably something in real estate. I've always really enjoyed that side of things. And I even had went into that soon after college, but then went back to school. So I think something in real estate is probably what I'd be doing.

Jason Price:
Terrific. Final question. Elizabeth, Nathan, what are you most optimistic about?

Elizabeth Moore:
For me, it's the end of COVID. I'm so excited if that will end.

Nathan Shannon:
Yeah, that, I mean, mine's on the same line, just getting back to travel. I was finally able to get back to a few in-person conferences over the last few weeks. And even though it's just work travel, I was excited for anything. I mean, I'd rather have some personal fun travel, but I was happy for anything.

Jason Price:
Well, Nathan, maybe we can get a conference in the Northern Lights and another conference in Greece for you, Elizabeth. Well done, both of you. Thank you for sharing a little bit more insight into each of you. So no other questions that I have for you, but I do want to open the floor for final thoughts. Maybe we'll start with you, Elizabeth, what are your final messages you'd like to leave with our audience?

Elizabeth Moore:
Well, my biggest takeaway is that renters are an important customer group that can't be overlooked. Energy burdens are real, especially in our region here in the Southeast, and we are focused on creating solutions that meet all of our residents' needs.

Nathan Shannon:
Yeah, for my final thoughts, I would say, always remember consumers are not a monolith. Segmentation and understanding the specific needs of customers is so crucial. And as the energy industry has changed so much over the last eight to 10 years, we've seen higher consumer expectations when it comes to their customer experience with their energy provider. They're comparing that experience to outside entities, outside industries like retail and banking and other areas that have taken leaps and bounds in the customer experience sector over the last 10 into 20 years.

Nathan Shannon:
And I think that utilities have been showing some great work in that area, but there's still a long way to go with really understanding the needs and wants of their customers and with personalized messaging. So I would say just always remember, consumers are not a monolith. It's everyone has specific needs and marketing dollars always work best when it's something that's tailored to that type of customer, whether it's renters or low income or whoever it may be.

Jason Price:
Yeah. Well stated. This is a terrific conversation and I want to thank you both for sharing your thoughts. We certainly want to keep the comments going and you can share your thoughts and comments on the Energy Central platform, but for now, thank you for joining us today.

Nathan Shannon:
Thank you. Appreciate you having me.

Elizabeth Moore:
Thank you.

Jason Price:
You can always reach Elizabeth and Nathan through the Energy Central platform where they welcome your questions and comments. We also want to give a shout out of thanks to the podcast sponsor that made today's episode possible, and that's to West Monroe.

Jason Price:
West Monroe works for the nation's largest electric gas and water utilities in their telecommunication, grid modernization and digital and workforce transformations. West Monroe brings a multidisciplinary team that blends utility operations and technology expertise to address modernizing aging infrastructure, advisory on transportational electrification, ADMS deployments, data and analytics and cybersecurity.

Jason Price:
And once again, I'm your host, Jason Price. Plug in and stay fully charged in the discussion by hopping into the community at energycentral.com. And we'll see you next time at the Energy Central Power Perspectives Podcast.

 


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The ‘Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast’ is the premiere podcast series from Energy Central, a Power Industry Network of Communities built specifically for professionals in the electric power industry and a place where professionals can share, learn, and connect in a collaborative environment. Supported by leading industry organizations, our mission is to help global power industry professionals work better. Since 1995, we’ve been a trusted news and information source for professionals working in the power industry, and today our managed communities are a place for lively discussions, debates, and analysis to take place. If you’re not yet a member, visit www.EnergyCentral.com to register for free and join over 200,000 of your peers working in the power industry.

The Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast is hosted by Jason PriceCommunity Ambassador of Energy Central. Jason is a Business Development Executive at West Monroe, working in the East Coast Energy and Utilities Group. Jason is joined in the podcast booth by the producer of the podcast, Matt Chester, who is also the Community Manager of Energy Central and energy analyst/independent consultant in energy policy, markets, and technology.  

If you want to be a guest on a future episode of the Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast, let us know! We’ll be pulling guests from our community members who submit engaging content that gets our community talking, and perhaps that next guest will be you! Likewise, if you see an article submitted by a fellow Energy Central community member that you’d like to see broken down in more detail in a conversation, feel free to send us a note to nominate them.  For more information, contact us at community@energycentral.com. Podcast interviews are free for Expert Members and professionals who work for a utility.  We have package offers available for solution providers and vendors. 

Happy listening, and stay tuned for our next episode! Like what you hear, have a suggestion for future episodes, or a question for our guest? Leave a note in the comments below.

All new episodes of the Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast will be posted to the relevant Energy Central community group, but you can also subscribe to the podcast at all the major podcast outlets, including:


Thanks once again to the sponsor of this episode of the Energy Central Power Perspectives Podcast: West Monroe

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