Welcome to the Second Episode of Trees and Lines: Fresh Perspectives on Utility Vegetation Management!
Our next guest is Pam Rauch, VP of External Affairs and Economic Development for the U.S.’s largest utility – Florida Power & Light. Pam’s perspective on good corporate culture, renewable investment, and NextEra’s innovative approach are a few of the topics we covered. We are so excited to have someone as experienced as Pam join us and can’t wait for you to listen in!
Pam Rauch Background
Pam’s background is an interesting one, as she began her career in law and politics. After years of working as a private practice lawyer and dipping her toes in the local political atmosphere, Pam found a position in Florida Power & Light’s law department. Her background in politics allowed her to navigate and apply useful skills in her new position. NextEra is known for its technologically friendly way of doing business and continues to be a champion of innovation within the energy field. This has allowed Pam’s role in the company to evolve and progress as well.
Pam explains that one of the things that is of great importance to a large utility like NextEra, is reducing emissions in a cost-effective way. The company’s investment in solar energy is one example of how NextEra uses technology to help the environment. Their commitment to environmental sustainability has paved the way for solar growth in the U.S. Not only has NextEra contributed to the growth of solar energy, but they have committed to leading the way on green hydrogen technology. This process will allow their natural gas plants to run in a completely emissions-free way. They are looking to unlock the potential of 100% carbon-free power in the country. In relation to vegetation management, the company has had to make more aggressive investments to maintain its position as a reliable utility. With the current situation in Russia and Ukraine, it has been challenging for businesses to operate with full efficiency. However, this global issue has validated NextEra’s plans for clean energy, and they have continued to focus on delivering that for their clients.
Company Culture at Florida Power and Light
For NextEra to work as successfully as they have over the years, they’ve had to build a strong internal culture. When asked about how the company accomplishes this, Pam stated that when it comes to maintaining a culture, “that’s when leadership really matters.” Pam has been fortunate to work with other leaders “who have a vision and gave permission to push back and think out of the box.” The culture is one that encourages different ideas and allows everyone to contribute to the decision-making process. The power of teamwork and inclusion has been an incredible asset to the company’s success and the overall culture. When dealing with external affairs, Pam shared that it comes down to “engaging with our stakeholders and being more aggressive with our outreach.” Ongoing discussions about specific topics relevant to the business are also an important aspect. Pam explained that keeping the community engaged and informed is a priority for NextEra.
Diversity and Inclusion
Phil’s countless years of experience in vegetation management and many types of utilities, have allowed him to see “a lot of life cycles of the industry [vegetation management].” One of the things Tej specifically notes is “the shifts in demographics or the underrepresentation of women in the utility industry overall.” Pam emphasized that the company has “had a huge focus on racial equity and equity in general.” Due to the underrepresentation of women in STEM, Pam stated that they have “leveraged the community engagement community relations piece of my [Pam’s] business unit to support STEM opportunities around the state to encourage women and minorities to get into these fields.”
As for, NextEra’s ability to keep up with infrastructure needs as migration increases in Florida, Pam says that NextEra’s approach is, “long-term planning and a recognition that investment is needed.”
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