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Powers Discusses ‘Transforming to Enhance the Customer Experience’ at USEA Annual Meeting

by on May 19, 2016
Bob Powers, AEP executive vice president and chief operating officer, delivers remarks at USEA’s 2016 Annual Membership Meeting & Public Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Herman Farrer Photography.

Bob Powers, AEP executive vice president and chief operating officer, was a keynote speaker May 5 at the United States Energy Association’s (USEA) 2016 Annual Membership Meeting & Public Policy Forum in Washington, D.C.

Powers’ presentation was titled “The Next Generation Energy Company: Transforming to Enhance the Customer Experience.”

Powers told the group that, strategically, the future of the energy industry includes a renewed emphasis on the customer experience. He said it will be “driven by a customer and stakeholder desire for cleaner, more efficient energy resources” and will include:

  • Improving the reliability/resiliency of the grid;
  • Transforming our generation fleet to a greener, more modular fleet with less capital at risk; and
  • Delivering the smart energy technologies and services our customers want.


But, he cautioned, there likely will be impedients to fulfilling those “wish lists” for customers:

  • Not all stakeholders want or can afford the same solution;
  • Regulatory paradigms are all over the map;
  • Resilient grids cost LOTS of money: Are customers willing to pay?
  • Transforming the generation fleet requires balancing diversity and shareholder risk; and
  • Smart energy technologies: Are they just gimmicks or “killer apps”?


He noted that AEP — and many other energy providers — are currently in the process of balancing their generation portfolios to comply with stringent environmental regulations and to take advantage of low natural gas prices. He said that includes the addition of renewable resources such was universal solar and wind.

He also said AEP is working hard to deploy new technologies on its system and for its customers, such as smart meters, energy storage technologies, Volt Var Optimization, etc. Powers said the goal is to “improve the efficiency, reliability, flexibility and maintainability of the our existing generation fleet; develop and deploy new generation technology, systems and equipment to support the integrated grid of the future; and explore opportunities ‘behind the meter’ to improve the overall efficiency of the grid and maximize customer benefits.”

A key to enhancing the customer experience, he added, requires the use of data analytics. He said using data analytics:

  • Changes how we think about, serve and market to our customers;
  • Supports a meaningful dialog with regulators and stakeholders regarding tariff flexibility/changes, customer response requirements (i.e., “getting the rules right”);
  • Establishes a 360-degree view of the customer that ties together initiatives to improve the customer experience; and
  • Informs decisions regarding the design and viability of new consumer programs.


Powers also noted that AEP has embarked upon a “rebranding/customer outreach” campaign across its service territory that includes advertisements (both print and television), focus groups and economic development activities to help the company establish better relationships with its customers and to provide them with the services they need and want in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

From → News From AEP

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