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Ms. Jennifer Gremmert with Energy Outreach Colorado talks about keeping neighbors safe, warm and healthy
18th December 2020 • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie
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In this week's Industrial Talk Podcast, we're talking to Jennifer Gremmert, Executive Director at Energy Outreach Colorado about "Energy with a heart. Keeping your neighbor, safe, warm and healthy". Get the answers to your "How Can I Help" questions along with Jennifer's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

You can find out more about Jennifer and the wonderful team at Energy Outreach Colorado by the links below. Finally, get your exclusive free access to the Industrial Academy and a series on “Why You Need To Podcast” for Greater Success in 2021. All links designed for keeping you current in this rapidly changing Industrial Market. Learn! Grow! Enjoy!


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Scott MacKenzie


Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go. Alright, welcome to the industrial talk podcast. My name is Scott MacKenzie, and thank you very much for joining this platform. This platform this podcast celebrates you, the women and men of industry. You are bold. You are braver. You dare greatly you changing the world and you're changing lives. Why not? Why not celebrate you because you deserve it. I'm a big fan of yours, FYI. So if anybody says, I don't have any fans, they're lying. Because you have one right here. Scott MacKenzie? industrial talk podcast. Okay, we're gonna be starting a new series. Now, this series is interesting. And we're gonna kick it off, and we'll get some more information. And in the hot seat, her name is Jennifer Gremmert. Right. And she is the executive director at energy outreach Colorado. We're speaking about the heart and helping people. How can you complain against that? Come on, let's get rockin. She's a firecracker. A lot of fun. Cool. As cool can be. That's who Jennifer is. But before we get going, I mentioned it briefly in the, you know, quickly. Now, this is interesting. So there's a, there's a desire on this part in a number of really great people who have a desire to sort of make sense of all this. So there's sensemaking, right? Of all of this COVID stuff, what do we do? Now, on this particular podcast, you've heard me hammer on and on and on, about the necessity to rebuild or survive, rebuild and prosper, right? What do we do? What are the strategies? How do we make sense of that 2020 is behind us. 2021 is right ahead of us. And we need strategies, we need people to be able to provide insights on what we can do to survive, rebuild and prosper. We have to you have to we have to make this happen. Because we're all about and and this is how it started talking about collaboration, right? collaborate, we just can't do it on ourselves collaborate, innovate, because we got to think differently. We've got to, I mean, we just have to, not just from a technology perspective, but just more into the how do we relate? How do we communicate? How do we make people succeed? How do we solve problems. And then, of course, the big one, for me, the huge one, for me, the biggest one of the bunch, is educate, and that's where sense making comes into play. We have been through a challenging year, some more than others. Some are tough. I mean, you get you get the various degrees. But the reality is, nobody's going to sit there and say, I was sort of a normal year, it wasn't right. And so myself, cap logistics, and others have come up with this program that we're putting, trying to put a meat on the bones as we speak, we're going to drive a flag in this, you know, in the ground, but it is a way of being able to create real, real masterminds that have real insights to solve real problems that you and others can truly execute, not just from, from a business, but all the way up into the government level and downward and, you know, an extend out, how do we help people succeed? How do we help people


survive? Right? What are the strategies and tactics in it, because I've been talking about collaboration, this is purely a collaborative effort. And Jennifer, here is the first one out of the gate. So this is how it rolls, we'll do podcasts, we will definitely start talking about all of the the details associated with what Jennifer does and others do. And then we start to collaborate and collect all that information. And then on January, put this on your calendar, January 28, we're going to be talking about the community side of this effort, right, and how we can help the community from the perspective of people who are truly and companies who are truly in the trenches, and helping people succeed. And then we're going to do that, not just from that we're going to do it from an academic point of view. We're going to do it from a business point of view. And we're going to do it from a government point of view. And we're going to create an incredible network and across All mastermind group that you can collaborate with, and, and everybody, everybody wins. And that's what we're trying to do. And we're using the platform such as industrial talk, podcasts, videos, all the media that we can possibly muster up to be able to get that message out and get you tactical solutions. That makes sense, because we're in them sensemaking business, how's that? I'm worn out. One little intro, and I'm worn out. All right, let's get on with the interview. Because she's wonderful. She's with an organization called energy outreach. Now, this is what's interesting about it. They help people and they start with, with their energy bills, and with their that are maybe challenged in some way, shape or form, they're able to sort of help keep that light on, keep the energy going, keep the natural gas paid, and be able to help them from from truly an overall health perspective. survive. And this isn't it. This isn't Colorado, but but pretty much every state has a similar organization. And I just I love this stuff. I love when people put their their thoughts into action. and her team at energy outreach, Colorado, puts it into action. And we need more people like Jennifer, you need to step up and we need to just do our part. There's a lot of people that need help. And there are a lot of great organizations and a lot of great people like Jennifer, that want to help. And that can provide an excellent avenue to make that happen. Right. Let's start talking about caring. Let's start talking about giving of your time and effort and not having or expecting anything in return. Because your heroes, you are industry heroes, and this platform is for you. So let's get on with the interview. Jennifer Gremmert. Now that's gr e m. Ma. e. RT, the organization is Energy Outreach Colorado. And she's a fireplug. So enjoy the interview. Jennifer, welcome to the industrial talk podcast. I'm telling you. I'm looking forward to this conversation. How are you doing?


I'm doing great. Thank you for having me.


All the way from Colorado. It's cold over there. Do you have you got snow?


Yeah, it was supposed to snow tonight. So is it really? Yes.


Love the snow? We don't get enough of that here. Well, we get none. In Louisiana. Maybe maybe the part of the top of the boot but not not here in old New Orleans area. Now. What it does, it's a national security issue. You know, it's one of those problems. So anyway, for the listeners out there, now we're gonna have a great conversation I and I am just jacked about it. Give us a little background, who you are, and why you're such an incredible professional, then we're gonna venture on into the interview itself.


Sure. So I'm Jennifer Bremmer, I'm the executive director of energy outreach Colorado. So we're a statewide nonprofit whose mission is to ensure that all Coloradans can afford home energy. And I've been fortunate to be with this organization for over 20 years, I've spent my entire career in the nonprofit sector focused on affordable energy, affordable housing, economic literacy, even did a little higher education. But I am a person who really enjoys fundraising, I enjoy re purpose funding to help those in need. I've made a made a career out of it.


So but how does somebody like you? Why, why? Why is this? Why did you get involved?


I think I grew up in a family that was all about, you know, economic equality and sort of knowing that there's a lot of people that have more than me, but so many more people that have left. And so when I kind of discovered the nonprofit sector, as a career opportunity, I kind of jumped on it. I have an Economics and Political science background. So I like that intersection of policy and, you know, money, map and, and distribution of resources. I discovered energy outreach Colorado in the mid 90s. I was the fourth employee hired. And this was when energy, you know, it's always been obviously a critical need, and basically, but it was a little simpler than it is now. Right? It was sort of the framework that we had of our energy sector was how it was designed 100 years ago. And in that transition, we've seen huge shifts in how energy is delivered and the importance of it. And so it's been really an exciting field to be in and to be able to help people access affordable, reliable energy. It's been a great joy.


It's a it's an interesting journey, to say the least because what I mean when you start talking about The necessity to provide it's the state of Colorado. It's not just it's the state. Okay. There, there's a community out there that needs help there needs assistance. And power is pretty important. I mean, I, I put it right there at the top of necessities within a family people's lives. How has you How have you seen it sort of change from when you started to where you are today? And where do you see it going?


But I think, you know, it's, we're in a post COVID conversation, right? So people are home, they understand what he and energy means to them. But they understand the health of the home and how that relates, I think we're also seeing, you know, climate change being a big conversation, you know, reduction in carbon. When we think about energy, we tend to think about, maybe it's gasoline in our cars, we don't tend to think about the natural gas or electricity coming into our homes. And so from that consumer perspective, you know, I think about energy all the time. Most people spend human fear, they just take for granted that they turn right at the beginning, do


I'm one of them, but it's like, we had a storm come through a power's out, have gone, what is going on here?


What have they not done? Exactly, I think of Louisiana and the impact of power, wise writing, you know, and I think this is something that we just have to, you know, balance of how energy comes to us how we use it, you know, the value that it has in our lives. And then as we look at sort of this transformation of energy, right, that we want to produce energy in different ways that we want to consume it in different ways that we're starting to have technology that allows us to control that usage differently than it used to. And I think we are continuing to understand what a vital resource it is, and what a highly nuanced conversation is, in terms of energy generation, how it comes into our home, is something that's evolving really, really rapidly again, when you think of the proposition of how energy is delivered, it's been sort of traditionally done, or over 100 years. And in the last, I would argue, 10 to 15 years, it's completely transforming.


It's being driven by a lot of innovation. I mean, there's a lot of innovation going on there now, but I'm gonna I'm gonna have to address the the elephant in the room. And that's COVID. Right? Yeah. A, you have a community and that community is in need. What are your biggest challenges, especially today, and the uncertainty of the future? What's your biggest needs?


So pre COVID, about one in four Colorado households qualify for our programs based on age. And what we're seeing post COVID is just more households that are underemployed or unemployed, that are just really struggling with resources, and also that, again, need for having energy in your home or home or in a residential usages. Right. So that affordability issue comes into play. You know, we've already seen some income inequality in this country that then gets exacerbated when you have a situation like this. And so we work really closely with, you know, our government partners, there's public funding that goes into both energy systems and energy efficiency. My organization fills in the gap for this problem vailable and then working with utility companies, to put people on payment arrangements to start moving talking about how we ensure people stay connected. And then how can we think about, you know, that intersection of energy, housing and health, really in terms of like looking at energy efficiency programs, and things that are going to make that home healthier while also reducing costs? So we're in a really interesting place right now, we've been developing programs over the last two years, we've got great partners across the state. But like you said, Colorado be, you know, kind of microcosm I work in, we have an urban corridor that has one set of issues. And we've been and regulated in vertically integrated utilities. We have eastern plains that are more of that Midwest, high plains that have smaller communities, rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities that work with and then we have resort communities where we have high concentration of wealth, but the people that we work with, or that we serve, are traveling multiple counties to really be the essential workers in those communities, they have much higher rates of conflict. So we have to balance all of those interests as we look at this work and not sort of a one size fits all, but really integrate with what people need. And we're fortunate that we have strong partners.


Yeah. Do you see any? I mean, I know there's a Do you have a crystal ball type thing however, one of the challenges I mean, really, with your market here with this COVID, because, quite frankly, your services, your solutions are truly needed. We need to rebuild, we need to figure out solutions, and to help people, you know, survive and then rebuild, and so on, is vitally important. But what do you see probably that biggest issue that you've got to deal with, in your in your group?


Yeah, it's really meeting people where they are and what they need. So we do you have a holistic approach to this. So most people come to us in a crisis, they can't afford their energy bill, or they don't have access to heat. And so make sure that they, you know, get their furnace repaired or replace that we, you know, get them on a risk management program, you know, on a payment, a reason that we help pay that utility bill for them in their short term, then we really try to educate around, you know, conservation, what can they do to reduce the usage, what equipment can be replaced? And then we're looking at long term energy solutions that we do through a lot of regulatory and legislative work around energy policy. So what is the right design and community? How do people interact with their utility partner? How do we think about not only just individuals, but small business owners who are also really struggling in this? Yeah, you know, we're cut, we're trying to, basically, like, overall rates with what how we can deliver these, you know, innovative, and I think, really, you know, good programs to people to help reduce that...