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"I like to think of the utility business as really being a technology company that happens to deliver electricity and gas. We are using technology across our entire system to make us more efficient, to make our system more reliable, and to engage with our customers in a different way."

Calvin G. Butler Jr.

Chief Executive Officer
Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE)

Q&A WITH CALVIN BUTLER

There is little doubt that the transformation of the utility industry is already underway. What new opportunities do you see for your business?

The business for utilities is on the cutting edge and it is an exciting time, because we are now really starting to think about how we serve the residential, the small business and the industrial customers.

The industrial customer has always been about price and reliability, but now our residential and small business customers are starting to get information to make them smart energy users. Utilities are really looking into how we can meet their needs and meet them where they are going rather than just keeping the power on.

We don’t get any credit for reliable power. People expect the light to come on when you flip the switch and the gas to be flowing. What are we doing extra to add value and to make their lives easy? That is really where the opportunity is for our industry.

How have customer expectations changed over time?

In the past, utilities would have 48-72 hour window after an outage due to weather or other natural events. People understood what was happening and utilities crews would be out there trying to get power restored.

Now we get about 24 hours and our customers want fast, accurate information from their providers. Energy providers can increase that timeframe when we are accurate and upfront and telling them what’s going on with the restoration.

Of course, that information better be available on mobile devices. Our customers are looking at our apps and listening to the weather service. They want to know exactly where and when; they want to see the trucks out and the men and women out working. Their expectations of us are very high, and they need accuracy and timeliness.

The industry recognizes that window for power restoration has narrowed quite a bit, but we are up to the challenge.

If all we do is provide electricity and gas, and we don’t simplify the process for our customers and allow them to make their lives a little easier in this chaotic world, then we are missing a huge opportunity."

Calvin G. Butler Jr.

Chief Executive Officer
Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE)

What is the best advice you have ever received?

I am a lawyer who runs a utility company. And I take great pride in that because when I take a step back and look at how my career has evolved, I ran manufacturing, I ran strategy, I’ve been a lobbyist and I’ve run regulatory communications. The consistent theme is that if you surround yourself with talented people, be clear on expectations, get out of the way, and let them do their job, it’s amazing what talented people will do.

Challenge yourself and surround yourself with people who are strong, who will challenge you, and who will make you better along the way.

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