A group of four energy execs discussed smart cities and how energy companies and other organizations can work together to create efficiency and innovation.

The comments came during a session of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) 2019 Winter Policy Summit in Washington D.C. this past month.

On the panel were Dan Ford, managing director of North America Utilities Equity Research; Susan Kelly, president and CEO of American Public Power Association; Anne Pramaggiore, senior executive vice president and CEO of Exelon Utilities and Exelon Corporation; and ITRON President and CEO Philip Mezey.

Pramaggiore spoke first at the panel. She discussed Exelon’s strategy for responding to trends toward climate change, big-city migration and digitalization.

“With more sectors of the economy connecting to the grid, our operation model has to evolve from fail-and-restore to reconfigure, adapt, and recover; and third, connected and equitable. The opportunity to connect more devices and more function on the grids reduces cost, creates value for consumers and society, and it offers an opportunity for a platform of services, an eBay of energy.” Said Anne Pramaggiore

Kelly on smart initiatives: “We are really excited…”

Kelly then spoke about her organization’s scope–more than 2,000 public power communities in 49 states.

She believes smart communities are a “natural” fit for public power.

“Smart community projects are pretty much a natural for public power,” she said.

She went on to describe initiatives San Antonio, Sacramento, Austin and New York. The projects ranged from autonomous vehicles to LED street lights end electric vehicles.

“We don’t look at it as a rate-of-return item. We look at it as an investment in our community. We’re really excited about the possibilities of smart community initiatives.” Said Susan Kelly

Mezey noted his company uses more than 200 million smart devices and noted ITRON “moved to smart street lighting where we are the largest provider with three million street lights now under control” in the U.S. and abroad.

Ford tempered the discussion by asking pointed questions about funding, creating fairness and focusing on cybersecurity and customer privacy.

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