Listen and Work With Key Accounts

Hilton’s energy manager says the hotel giant needs prompt responses from co-ops, especially after storms. (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

Hilton’s energy manager says the hotel giant needs prompt responses from co-ops, especially after storms. (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

SAN DIEGO—They're called "key accounts" for a reason. Are you listening to what they have to say? 

"Twenty-five percent of all co-ops get half of their revenue from C&I," noted Scott Bialick, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives' senior program manager, business development. And more than half of co-ops get a third of their revenue from businesses.

"Those are big dollars that help keep our rates steady and jobs in our communities," Bialick told a Jan. 30 session of NET 2017 at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort, where the focus was on best ways to work with commercial members.

Dairies are a big industry for many cooperatives. Ninety co-ops serve 1,500 large dairies and "it's a fairly large load," said Jerry Bingold, director, renewable energy, at the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. "We spend about $4 billion on gas and electricity."

It's easy for co-ops to help because "we know the three top things every dairy needs," Bingold said, citing retrofits for lightning, pumps and cooling. 

J. C. Penney Co. is a completely different type of commercial account, and 88 percent of what the department store chain spends on utilities goes to electricity, said Steve Cullen, its lead senior energy data analyst. 

"So it's very important for us to try and reduce our electricity use within our stores."

Lightning is the major culprit, and the retailer is "always looking to upgrade our lighting." To that end, Cullen said, "If you have any incentive programs, if you're providing any means for us to put in new lighting or HVAC upgrades, we need to know."

Guests at Hilton hotels expect great service, which is what the company expects from utilities.

"Communication is key," said Thomas Webster, energy manager for Hilton. He stressed the need for prompt responses, especially after storms.

"We need restoration services," said Webster. "In many instances we can work with your communities," he said, noting Hilton properties could house linemen brought in for mutual aid.

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