Re-write the energy playbook before someone else does

Anyone who has spent time in London has ridden in a classic Black Cab—a knowledgeable driver, courteous and reliable service, reasonably priced. And a business model that’s in serious trouble: Despite a recent court ruling revoking Uber’s London license, the trend towards cheaper fares enabled by app-guided navigation may be unstoppable.

What are the parallels in today’s energy landscape? Some see utilities facing the same uphill battles as Black Cabs. Massive investments in generation and T&D infrastructure have enabled utilities to provide reliable service. Distributed energy providers are seen as disruptors eager to rip up the playbook, gaining access to customers without paying their fair share. The reliance on regulation to even the playing field is understandable. Unlike the world of London’s Black Cabs, however, the outcome here is far less certain.

The reason: Many utilities are not waiting for others to rip up the playbook. They’re doing it first, choosing a customer-centric value proposition.

Canada’s Alectra utility is offering its customers solar-plus-storage systems for backup power and rate arbitrage. Vermont’s Green Mountain Power has an eHome program that provides customized, holistic solutions that include everything from heat pumps and weatherization to solar, EVs and energy storage. In essence, these utilities are adding exciting new products to the Black Cab aspects of their business: Dependability and long-term relationships now combined with future-facing technology. It’s not cannibalization. It’s just what it takes to stay competitive.

What can London’s Black Cabs learn from Uber to beat them at their own game? As energy goes through a period of rapid transformation, what business models will put customers first—and win? Join the conversation below so we can find the answers together.

Ed Cuoco

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