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On the Plane Again – March 2023

Generac Grid Services’ SVP of sales, Jonathan 'J.T.' Thompson, shares each month's conversations to shed light on what it will take to truly modernize the grid.

Preface — March 2023

As Generac Grid Services’ SVP of sales, I get the opportunity to lead a global team of hardware and software sales leaders who help utilities and other energy companies solve their grid problems. This blog continues the series I kicked off at the start of 2023. In it, I intend to anonymously share what’s on the minds of peers in this industry actively working to modernize the grid. So, whether you’re a utility representative, industry vendor, or other grid enthusiast – reach out if any of this speaks to you!

This month was very short due to taking a break and dealing with a personal loss. Regardless, the time spent in the field was full of great discussions, as always. Here’s a look at what my team and I often found ourselves discussing during the month of March.

TechAdvantage: Good Times in the Music City

For the second year in a row, I had the pleasure of attending NRECA’s TechAdvantage Expo in Nashville, TN. For those that don’t know, this is the largest event catering to the electric cooperative space; it was great to see some old faces and meet many new ones.

A recurring theme throughout the conference was the desire to grow the distributed energy resource (DER) install base. Many groups were keen to understand how they could provide access to Generac products to their members. More importantly, they wanted to recruit Generac units to be dispatchable as grid resources. Fortunately, between Generac’s PowerINSIGHTS and Energy Alliance Program, we can meet both of those needs. Sharing this understanding with booth visitors has led the team to keep busy with TechAdvantage follow-up calls and meetings.

The co-op space is growing its interest in having a platform that can solve for more than just capacity and load needs. This meant that another major topic for discussion was our Concerto™ control and optimization platform. Our team experienced many more requests for demonstrations of our virtual power plant (VPP) and distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) software relative to the 2022 show.

Finally, the third star of the booth was our integrated meter automated transfer switch (ATS) which combines the meter socket and automated transfer switch and can even include an intelligent load management solution. Typically, these products are separate units. However, combining them makes life easier for dealers to install our generation products and supports customers in efficiently sizing the generator to their home load.

A Time to Relax & A Time to Mourn

After Nashville, I had a chance to relax as my kids were on spring break. It was great to stay home and catch up, as life on the road is exhausting. The weather wasn’t great, but we made the most of it.

Soon after, I was met with a bit of tragedy. I learned of the passing of my father. This was hard as it had been some 11 years since we last spoke; pride and stubbornness can often get in the way. However, I recall his dedication to his work and his being a master storyteller. I will miss our talks about Alabama football and his ability to create very colorful metaphors.

Closing the Month with Monetization

Following my return to the office, I spent ample time meeting with groups to discuss the ability to monetize assets. I see more and more groups looking to promote Generac’s — and other vendors’ — products and then monetize those assets in wholesale markets and/or utility programs. This monetization is typically through a third-party ownership (TPO) model whereby a company owns the assets and leases them back to a residential or commercial customer.

Interested prospects include groups seeking to participate in the Aggregated Distributed Energy Resources (ADER) pilot in ERCOT. I have the honor of serving on the Task Force guiding the pilot, and we had our quarterly meeting this past month. The effort has made significant progress, but much is left to do.

Our role is simple in all the above opportunities – provide the hardware and software.

As I look ahead, April will be jam-packed with travel. Between hosting a DERMS Workshop in Austin and client trips on the east coast and Midwest, my calendar has very few days at home. Nevertheless, I look forward to the discussions as I work with groups to address today’s problems and future planning challenges. As always, until next month, see you around the terminal!