Smart Energy Voices - Episode 9

Smart Energy Voices- Episode 10

When It Comes To Renewables, There Are Few City Limits In Austin with Teresa Kanter and Erika Bierschbach

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Peter Kelly-Detwiler sits down with Teresa Kanter, from Duke Energy Renewables (DER), and Erika Bierschbach, from Austin Energy (AE), to discuss the City of Austin's leadership in renewable energy procurement and their partnership with Duke Energy.

You’ll hear how Duke Energy Renewables and Austin Energy are moving forward and pushing limits in Austin. Listen to this episode of Smart Energy Voices to hear specific insights from both buyer and supplier perspectives.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • Teresa, and what she does at Duke Energy Renewables [2:31]
  • Erika, and what she does at Austin Energy [4:17]
  • How Austin Energy works with Duke Energy Renewables to be 100% carbon-free [5:52]
  • What part of their portfolio Austin Energy is focused on and why [7:24]
  • How Duke works with prospects to stay on top of what they are looking for [9:02]
  • Advice from an industry leader on moving towards 100% carbon-free goals [11:26]
  • Top risks to be aware of when engaging in a sizable commitment [12:32]
  • How to manage geographic risk [14:08]
  • What should we be thinking about for tomorrow? [16:20]

Staying ahead in a competitive market

There are a lot of suppliers and developers out there so the energy marketplace is a pretty competitive space. Working with prospects and customers to stay on top of what they're looking for will ensure that you're bringing them something not just today but tomorrow as well. You want them to come back to you and at least engage with you in the future. How do you stay ahead of that moving dynamic?

The answer is different for everyone. Duke prides itself on not just putting metal and equipment in the ground and then running off. They hire local people in the area. They stay in the community and stay involved. Customers like Austin Energy always seem to be ahead of the game. They hold themselves to a higher level because they push themselves and their City Council. They commission a lot of studies and want to be on the cutting edge of the next technology, making certain that they’re looking under every rock for the best opportunity in affordability, reliability, and reaching the goals of a greener future. 

Important aspects of the PPA

Depending on how a contract is structured, the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) needs to be focused on closely. Congestion and basis risk are huge depending on where you are going to pick up the power, where it's being delivered by the developer, and where that transfer of ownership occurs.

Additionally, pay attention to the market rules that will affect the value of the portfolio and how ERCOT market rules develop over time. It's a very engaged and involved stakeholder process. Some of the smaller cities and municipalities are part of a larger aggregated group, they all vote together. So knowing who your partners are on all sides of the agreement is crucial. It helps to understand what they're doing to transfer some risk, to quantify that risk, and then to manage the risk so that you do not have to pay a heavy price. Just understanding those different aspects of the PPA is very important.

Making waves and moving forward

The takeaway seems clear. In a complex and evolving market, companies like Austin Energy that do their homework, ask the right questions, and pull the right levers are helping to create a wave that moves the whole market forward. Solar is today what wind was about five or ten years ago and will grow faster than wind did. It’s a part of your portfolio that shouldn't be ignored.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with our guests

Teresa Kanter, Business Development Manager, Duke Energy Renewables 

A long-term energy professional, Teresa Kanter today heads up municipal, co-operative, and investor-owned utility relationship management for Duke Energy Renewables (DER) commercial business development organization, a non-regulated subsidiary of one of the US’ largest energy holding companies, Duke Energy. Since 2019, Teresa has focused on increasing DER’s emphasis on customer relationships and expanding renewable energy adoption. She first joined Duke Energy in 2012 working in Regulated Generation Fuels & Systems Optimization. Responsible for the Carolinas regulated generation natural gas physical and financial portfolio positions, she helped the business grow from 150 Bcf/yr of gas burn in 2012 to more than 450 Bcf/yr in 2019. Prior to joining Duke, Teresa managed the Mid-Continent and West gas portfolios for Wells Fargo Commodities, formerly Wachovia, and Odyssey Energy Services. Teresa was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and received her B.S. in Business Management from Oklahoma State University. She serves on the Board of Governors at Pine Island Country Club. Teresa enjoys traveling, hiking, and baking but you can usually find her on a golf course in search of her next hole-in-one.

Erika Bierschbach | Vice President, Energy Market Operations & Resource Planning | Austin Energy

Erika Bierschbach is Vice President of Energy Market Operations and Resource Planning at Austin Energy. She is responsible for the utility’s physical and financial power portfolio in the ERCOT wholesale electric market, including Austin Energy’s Real Time, Day Ahead, and Forward Market desks. Erika oversees the origination of the utility’s renewable power purchase agreements and manages market operations for Austin Energy’s owned and contracted resources. She is also responsible for resource planning at Austin Energy which includes achieving the climate protection and affordability goals established by the Austin City Council and Austin Energy.

Erika has more than 25 years of experience in energy markets, including positions in energy risk management at Enron Capital and Trade and Duke Energy Trading and Marketing. She joined Austin Energy in 2001 to develop, implement and later manage the utility’s energy hedging program. Erika’s prior positions at Austin Energy include Manager of Energy Supply and Risk Management as well as both Manager and Director of Energy Market Operations. Erika has established more than 2,250 Megawatts of renewable energy contracts during her tenure at Austin Energy.

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