Industry has long recognized the importance of understanding and influencing the cost and reliability of energy supplied to facilities. Most industries assign high-level resources to build relationships with local utilities to negotiate future terms – those charged with this task inevitably take on many government relations functions in the name of influencing ongoing regulation.
Jurisdictions with aggressive climate goals are increasingly realizing that a large part of the answer lies in their cities. This is resulting in increased community focus on widespread efficiency programs, distributed generation, district heating and cooling, e-mobility, and so-called smart city information networks. An industrial plant has the potential to be a partner in these efforts, to the benefit of all parties.
On-site CHP can be optimized across the power and thermal needs of the plant and the neighboring community. Waste heat from the plant can be a useful thermal resource for the community. Manufacturing schedules could be adjusted to optimize overall community demand profiles. Employee transportation could be integrated into the community’s mobility goals.
As important, the plant and the parent company could bring their energy management expertise to local working groups, associations, and colleges and universities. This would not only accelerate the community’s efforts but also create networks to attract and train future employees.
Teaming with the surrounding city creates fundamentally different relationships with local and regional government. It ensures that the plant remains competitive and attracts ongoing investment and quality employees. By aligning with the surrounding energy and climate goals, there is clearly room for mutually beneficial discussions around regulation, investment, and incentives.
In this changing world, energy policy relations will need localized understanding of national and community policy goals, and it will need to ensure that corporate and community dialogues are aligned accordingly. Gaining clarity about one another’s goals and finding commonalities can be fertile ground for redefined government relations.