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Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professionals 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 hardhat grab your work boots, and let's All
right, welcome to industrial talk date three DistribuTECH, Dallas, Texas, and it is wrapping up we are the realm there's maybe 27 and a half people on the floor. And this floor is huge. And so we we just had a man, it's been a absolute blistering pace at this particular event. And you are joining industrial talk the number one industrial related podcast in the universe tie. It's backed up by data. So don't even come to me and say, Scott, that doesn't make sense. It's data. It's science. All right. And once again, you have joined the ever-expanding industrial ecosystem of problem solvers in the hot seat. We've got Ty Roberts, Itron as the company. We're going to be talking about community involvement. And I like them. That's a dead sexy conversation around let's get going. Ty Good morning, Scott. Hey, thank you for making time in your schedule. My pleasure. Yeah, listeners, it's around 530 In the morning time. This is because Ty's real busy and it's tough. He's,
he's anything for you. Anything.
Anything for me? Do you have any good conference? Do you think it was good?
I was fantastic. I think just being out if there had been 27 people, like you'd said, it would have been wonderful to have face. To see 10,000 people out was absolutely fantastic. Having conversations again,
face to face. Did you run into people that you only knew virtually?
Many? Yes, absolutely. Yeah. People who?
You're tall. There was one guy just said, Holy cow, man. Your gigantor?
No, it was amazing.
Yeah. And I think the conversations have been I have come to realize that there's good and bad with a pandemic, and Bad's obvious, the good is that I think that there are a lot more companies that are saying, We got to collaborate. And in the world of utilities, who will have whatever grid management or world of generation, whatever. That is so important to collaborate. One of the issues that I always I think I mentioned a couple of times on a number of conversations, is this. Utilities, the activities of utilities are pretty much unsung. It's, it's binary. You deliver power, you're okay, I'm not thinking about. But if you don't deliver power, and it's interrupted, and it's flickering, or whatever it is, I'm mad. It's like, Yes, I'm okay. I'm mad. But, but the masses, the communities don't understand. How do we how do we begin to broach that subject?
It's a fabulous question. I know lots of utilities are wrestling with it and lots of our customers included and in that so because you're absolutely right that they do a fantastic job at what they do. And you can think of the lights went out six months ago for five minutes it's it hardly ever happens. And and and it's an amazingly complex task to deliver gas electric and water. But that happens. It happens by seamlessly for us every day. I think where we've had a number of conversations with utilities on on, especially in the sort of the industrial IOT space is what utilities have a real expertise that is managing large complex systems to deliver services outside and broad the span their entire community or communities. And, and managing and maintaining that infrastructure is a real expertise that utilities have and I did a fireside chat a couple of days ago with Sam DuPont from Baltimore Gas and Electric talking about this very thing were being able to leverage that experience in the properties and utilities are trusted to do to do that. What other things can the utility provide to their community beyond just sort of their their core business and their core commodity of the day that they deliver. So we know that many of our customers are working within their communities to provide other services like, like smart lighting, like sensing, flood sensing was one that Sam talked about a fair bit. But other things that involve, you know, connected solutions and and bringing data back into a back office and processing and then sending that data somewhere else and integrating to other police forces and other arena first responders, other other parts of the answer the full community infrastructure, and this is something that utilities are good at it, that outreach of going out in the community and engaging with them or engaging with other other utilities that are in their service territory. So electric utility, collaborating with the water utility, for example, to say, Hey, I've got a smart metering network up already communications in place, it won't be that big of a deal to add your water meters to that same network, and we can perform the reading for you. We have a few utilities who are starting to really explore that opportunity. And I think the challenge that, that so many utilities have is is the, from a regulatory perspective, they have a little box and you guys got to do what you do you have assets that are paid for by by your constituents through a rate base. And and that's all you can use it for, I think there's starting to be some realization with different governments, regional governments and utility Commission's around the country that asking everybody to put in the same kind of infrastructure, even small utilities that just don't have the, you know, the capital or the expertise to do it. It's a real barrier to entry in a barrier to providing digital services to their citizens. So that tension is an interesting one. And we're seeing a lot more collaboration between utilities between these villages and communities. And we're seeing some easing of the sort of the regulatory concern and even beyond certain certain regulators saying, Yeah, actually, you guys should be collaborating, cooperating, we can't pay for everybody to put all this expensive stuff. And so let's reuse what we can.
So it's interesting, because many industries are going through this digital transformation, it just is one of the most challenging I you know, I've talked to manufacturers, I've talked to oil and gas, and it's sort of a different conversation. But utilities is just, it's a challenge in it. And you're dealing with a lot of legacy thinking like this is how we've operated this system for 90 years. And we have this and this and this. And now there's this pressure to to with renewables, and it's been going on, but it's still was consistent with, alright, your generator, get it on the transmission line, it was still very linear in that case. Now we're talking distributive. And again, if we want to succeed, from my perspective, we want to succeed with this journey for the shuttle, we have to be very pragmatic. We have to communicate, we have to do all of that. Because if the community if the businesses are saying, I can't do business here, I can't I can't live here because the my power goes out. I get it, but it says it's summertime, I can't do it. Right. So but but it's, but the reality is it's going to happen. Right?
Absolutely. And I think I think the wave that everyone I think sees and feels, how big it is, and when it's gonna hit as the, I think is the thing that not everyone was quite realized yet, but what electrification with electric vehicles, you know, with with the commitments that that that communities and regional governments are making to, to carbon reduction and electrification, we see, of course, all the automakers are electrifying their portfolios and their fleets. That is going to require a massive amount of engaged community engagement. Because homes, just the amount of new of new demand that's going to go on to onto electric network is enormous. We cannot build enough generation in anything like the time or ever, frankly, to serve all of that load. If so, how it gets managed is going to have to be absolutely key to the success of putting in charging stations and all the places that they have to get put in so that will absolutely have to be driven by conversations between the utility and and businesses and government etc.
My ears bleeding. I'm telling you, there's so many pieces and parts and pointy ends and rounded it it is but it's exciting. The challenge I see. I'm one of many don't get me wrong here. Challenges are the it's like I'm a utility. I'm not I'm not the utility next door to me, I have a different journey. And that utility has a different journey and that and we're on a different path and and what's priority to me is not a priority you and then there's no real quote standardization. shown right? With all of this stuff. And, uh, somebody's going to have to, and and because utilities tend to be very pragmatic, you know, nobody, nobody wants to, I'll go first I'll go first. But then there are utilities that do that, and then they're gonna blaze that path. But then again, it's it's, it's an IT, how do we inform the community because it's just sort of an interesting, and I'll be, I'll be blunt, I never listened to anything that comes from my utility. It's just like, Hey, who are you? Okay, great. Right? How do we do that? How do we how do we do that?
Well, I think there has to be concerted effort by utilities, and many of them are doing this on on community engagement as a strategy and as an as an expertise that they build and staff and, and develop a plan around because it's that that engagement with electrification? Absolutely, but also with the opportunity to provide additional services. It's very real, and it's tangible. And, and, and they do have an expertise that can be that can be leveraged so. But going into the community, I think not being seen as the as the sort of the big bully, and here's our way and you are ratepayer, right. But understanding the problems the community is having, how can we solve this for you, and here's some options that we have. But that's, again, Sam from from eg need describes it really well is that you have to come in with 80% of the solution, but not 100%. Because you have to have room to tweak and adjust it because communities have different needs. And, and and you have to be collaborative, but you also can't come in with a blank slate and say, Alright, where do we begin?
Yeah. There will be a massive flatlining. But what I what I do see, and I think that it's going to take time, but But you know, the old way of thinking is that I deliver power, I do it reliably, do it safe. And that's my role and responsibility. There it is. But now, I think the the community as a whole is becoming more comfortable with sort of cafeteria type of approach to business and everything so so I'm able to sort of say, well, I don't want that. But I can, I can do that. And then that's cool. But I only want 50 That's what this whole digital thing. It gives me options that, but that's an education. It's like, hey, here it is, you can do this, this and this. Pretty cool. Right? beforehand. You couldn't do it? That's and that's the digital conversation. Yeah,
that's right. When I think and I think where utilities are looking to get to is, there's there's a ton of opportunity out there, there's a ton of challenges that you can solve with cool sensors, and data and providing early warning for lots of things. And there's lots of little business models that need to be tested. Are they going to scale, then are they gonna be broadly needed? And broadly deployable? I don't know. So I think the challenge now is when the opportunity is, let's test let's be quick and nimble and test. What are the services that people need? And and and are they broadly required? Because like, what, what, what utilities we really good at is, if it's, again, if it's a broad need managing big, large solution base, doing that reliably. That's exactly what they do is the bread and butter. So the little nice things and customization. That's not what utilities do. But if they can find here, the x number of things that are broadly applicable, let's focus on how
can can you in this digital transformation, be confident that maybe the price could go down? Or is that sort of one of those, hey, if you do this, this is your sort of price, but whatever it might be, but I think that that's a pretty good thing. If we can do that.
Yeah, for sure. What I think that that's, especially in terms of, I mean, so much of what utilities focus on and do and so much of their investments go to producing their own, you know, operational expenses, which is what you know, that's the stuff that we all have to pay for, as ratepayers. So that is always, always top of mind for them. So
that whole conversation around the regulatory environment, the rate case, that has to change that has, and when you said nimble, I'm thinking to myself, nope, I never said utility, right, nimble in the same sentence. It says, but it has to happen. And then when you start talking about the regulators, they have to rethink That's right. They have to figure out whatever that needs to be. That's right. Those are tough. It is tough, and I the tough, tough stuff. A lot of people get a hold of your
tie. They can reach me on my email at TYT dot Roberts at Itron.com.
That was a great conversation. Thank you. I like that. I I don't know what to do. It's way above my paygrade not yours. is our square in the middle of it, you better have that pay grade. I'm just that plucky sidekick All right listeners, you're gonna have all the contact information for Ty out on industrial talk.com industrial talk.com. So if you're not reach out to this gent, because and I try. I mean, they're really doing some great stuff out there. And I think it's it you guys are unsung heroes. How about that? The unsung heroes of utilities. All right, thank you once again for joining the industrial talk. We will wrap it up on the other side. So stay tuned, we will be right back.
You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.
That was Ty Roberts Itron is the company Thank you very much for joining industrial talk and for your support, go out to Ty robbers. It's all out into industrial talk.com. His stead card, his LinkedIn stack card is right there. You just go out to industrial dock, you find di you click on it, boom, you're in a stat card, and you're reaching out to him because you need to if you're in the energy business, yeah, you need to reach out to Ty if you're in the utility business. Yes, if you're in the whatever business, I think he's a great guy to connect with because he gets it. Yep. That was a great conversation over there. That was DistribuTECH 22. DistribuTECH is right around the corner 23. We're going to have some more great conversations from this particular event, and much, much more. All right, go out to industrial talk. You're saying to yourself, Scott, how do I get engaged? I'll teach you go out to industrial talk. And I said, Hey, Scott, how do I connect with you? It's easy to just go out, you can go to my LinkedIn stat guard out there, and you can reach out to me either way. We need to tell your story. If you're an industry, you absolutely tell your story. And if you're making it, you're solving problems, and you can help people solve problems, companies, manufacturers, you name it. We need to talk to you. And we'll just feature you out on industrial talk, the number one industrial related podcast in the universe, backed up by data. All right. Thank you once again for joining. Thank you for your support. Be bold, be brave, daring greatly. I say it all the time because you are hanging out with people like Ty and you're gonna change the world, which you are. So thank you very much. We're going to have another great conversation shortly. So stay tuned.