Executive Opinion

Dec. 21, 2004
We don't need more water. We need a better hose.

No one disputes that today's power grid is out of date, antiquated and overloaded. But is that the problem or just symptoms of a more fundamental issue? Chris Richardson, president and CEO, Schneider Electric, North American Division calls it a distressing result of a national policy that isn't properly motivating industry. "The fixation has been on generation and transmission, and to me it should be on conservation, distribution and control -- all of the things that we do with a precious resource -- versus just creating more. "The problem is that in most commercial enterprises, the expertise isn't there. Energy management is a sidelight. The engineering and maintenance function in too many plants is a support function, not a driver of investment, and therefore people pay attention to their own processes and not to the cost of the energy that is coming into that process. I think the solution is a matter of expertise, knowledge, and understanding the business model of payback. . . . "I'm concerned that the upcoming energy legislation will focus on fixing the wrong problem. The issue is not just about stringing more wire or putting more capacity in place. It is about better control, better monitoring and using the technology that is available today."

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