Guest Interview With Howard Smith - Alabama Power

How long have you worked at Alabama Power?
I have been at Alabama Power for 5 years.

What is your role at Alabama Power?
I am the Manager of Resource Planning and Load Management.

How long have you been involved in demand side activities?
I have been involved with demand-side activities for over 30 years.

What challenges have you faced as a DR professional within your organization and within the industry? 
One of the biggest hurdles facing DR is credibility. Customer acceptance usually is far less than what is touted by the experts, and the cost/benefits have not lived up to expectations. Overcoming these challenges is the key for a successful DR program.

What changes have you seen in the industry as it relates to DR and EE over the last few years?
The advent of Smart Grid technology is opening new cost-effective paths to meet customer needs and expectations.

What do you expect to be the biggest challenge with implementing DR in the next decade? 
Cybersecurity and cost control of equipment/software versus low natural gas prices.

What advice or guidance would you give to young professionals who are considering a career in demand response and smart grid?
I would advise a young professional to be creative, but understand that economics and real customer behavior are the drivers behind making DR a successful and sustainable energy option. As I have seen through the years, good intentions do not make for good programs.

From my experience, I have defined the 4C’s test for DR programs. The four Cs are Cost, Comfort, Convenience, and Conservation. If the four Cs do not match up with the customer’s value of each C, then the program is not sustainable. The 4 Cs have to be in balance from a customer’s perspective.

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