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May 24, 2021

According to a recent survey by chartered professional accountants Canada 34% of Canadians have fallen victim to scams and frauds. Sadly, the energy industry is no stranger to the world of scam artists looking to make quick money from unsuspecting energy consumers. Here with us to discuss the criminal minds behind utility scams is Jared Lawrence, Vice President of Revenue Services and Metering at Duke Energy. He is also the founder and executive committee chair of an organization known as Utilities United Against Scams - a sort of Justice League for the energy industry. Tune in to learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

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Dan Seguin  00:02

Hey, everyone, welcome back to another episode of The ThinkEnergy podcast. Catch me if you can. Fyre festival, the greatest party that never happened. The Wolf of Wall Street and catfish. We love to watch movies about scammers, grifters and con artists, but we never want to be on the receiving end of their schemes. Yet, according to a recent survey by chartered professional accountants Canada 34% of Canadians have fallen victim to scams and frauds. And the Canadian anti fraud centre reports that in 2019, nearly 45,000 Canadians lost $96 million to scammers. It may or may not be surprising. But the energy industry is no stranger to the world of scam artists looking to make quick money from unsuspecting energy consumers like you and me. A scam is reported to the Better Business Bureau every 15 minutes. of the 30 different types of scams tracked and reported, the average financial loss to a utility customer is a whopping $500. And as we've seen firsthand in the energy industry, fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated. evolving with time. Scammers like to take advantage of opportunities throughout the covid 19 pandemic. We've seen an increase in their efforts through a call, text, email, and even show up in person at a customer's home and place of business to intimidate and threaten. A popular tactic includes posing as a representative of a local utility like Hydro Ottawa and demanding immediate payment for a supposedly overdue account. To add stress and pressure, they threatened to disconnect power within the hour if they do not get payment. Frantic customers already reeling from the pandemic and possibly economic hardships fall victim to these convincing criminals and their pressure tactics by purchasing prepaid debit cards, gift cards, any form of cryptocurrency, or third party digital payments mobile applications, utility companies have ramped up efforts to educate customers so they can be aware of the dangers of utility scams and avoid them. Hydro Ottawa for instance, has partnered with other large distributors in the province like Hydro One, Toronto hydro, and Alectra utilities over the last couple of years to help spread the word far and wide when a scam happens. So that as many regions as possible are notified. So here is today's big question: How can utility companies protect their customers from increasingly sophisticated schemes and fraud? Is the answer a united front? And on a personal note? Is this my first true crime podcast? We shall see. Joining me on today's show is Jared Lawrence, Vice President of revenue services and metering at Duke Energy, one of the largest electric power holding companies in the US. Duke Energy provides electricity to 7.7 million customers in Florida, the Carolinas and parts of the Midwest. Jared is also the founder and executive committee chair of an organization known as utilities united against scams - a sort of Justice League for the energy industry if you will. Batman. I mean Jared, welcome to the show. Now Jared, scams are such a big problem in our industry that there's a utility Scam Awareness Day. And National Scam Awareness Week. That's how big the problems gotten. What can you tell us about utilities united against scams and your vision when you started it?


Jared Lawrence  05:25

Well, that's an excellent question. And there's actually a Hydro Ottawa connection that I will, I'll get to in a second, Dan. Really, utilities unite against scams started as a result of an internal investigation at my company, we were hosting our CEO, actually, in our call center where both our customer care agents as well as the back office employees report to me, we're having a q&a session with our CEO. And one of the customer care specialists raised her hand and said, Ms. Good, I'm, I'm really concerned, we have a lot of customers calling up about scammers. And they're convinced that these scammers actually have their information. What are we doing about this? and this was back in 2015. So this was on this was in the context of a number of high profile breaches with major retailers that were in the media. And so this was something we were definitely heightened, had a heightened sensitivity to. And she actually looked at me as as one of the two leaders in the room and said, "Yes, Jared, what are we doing about that?" I said, "Well, we're not doing anything, right now. But we're going to start tomorrow." And so we had actually, we commissioned a SWAT team internally to make sure that there were no data breaches, no breaches with our vendors, no, inside bad actors who were sharing information with scammers. And it became apparent very quickly, that these scammers did not actually have customer information. They were just brilliant social engineers, and all of our information networks were completely secure. So we got to the end of that effort, it took about, you know, three weeks to do that intensive investigation. And then I said to the team "Well now what?" we're not going to leave these folks, you know, our customers out there to fend for themselves against these criminals. What do we learn from this? And what can we do about it. And it became apparent to me pretty quickly that, that this is a problem of international scale, but each utility was attacking it as an individual entity. And we would have so much more presence, so much more of a voice in the public policy space, if we joined together as the as the influential industry that serves the public, and use our clout to basically push for change and better protect our customers. So that's not the concept of utilities in order to get scams was born. I made the pitch to a number of attendees at CS week. And so for many folks in the utility industry are aware that this week is the the customer service focus conference for utility professionals. This was back in in the spring of 2016, then, and immediately the cause essentially sold itself there were 25 utility organizations represented in the room and every single one of them came up to me afterwards, and expressed interest in becoming part of this vision of this industry effort. But it was actually in a breakfast conversation, later on during the conference with Dave McKendry, who's retired from Hydro Ottawa, who's become a friend of mine through our board work on CS week. And he pulled me aside he said, Jared, I've been thinking a lot about your utilities united against scams effort. And I suggest maybe you consider a national campaign. And, and the fact that utilities across North America are coming together, to work together for this specific event, this specific campaign that's newsworthy in and of itself. And I think, Jared that if you if you take that approach, you you will be able to attract so much more interest in this cause, and, frankly, so much more membership, and he was spot on. I thought it was a fantastic suggestion. We made that kind of the centerpiece of our first few months of existence back in 2016, culminating with our national utility Scam Awareness Day and actually utility Scam Awareness Week in November of 2016. The US House of Representatives of course, recognized us with the declaration of national utility Scam Awareness Day. And we went from 25 utility organizations that expressed interest at that first conference to 89 members by the time we get to that campaign in November, and since then, we've grown to where we are today at exactly 150 across the US and Canada. So it's grown beyond what I honestly could have expected or hoped for, but certainly not beyond that vision of the industry coming together to protect our customers against us against this very important Scourge.


Dan Seguin  09:58

Very interesting, Jared. What types of scams are appearing most often? Can you provide some real life examples? And has the global pandemic altered scam activity and its frequency?


Jared Lawrence  10:14

Excellent question. And so at the core, the scam that was the main focus of utilities back in 2015, when I started our investigation at Duke Energy and, and it remains today, it's that classic disconnection threat scam. So a customer gets a call from out of the blue from somebody purporting to be a representative of the utility. And they state that due to some sort of problem with the account or some sort of problem with a payment being returned by a bank or some, you know, some fabricated excuse like that, the customer's account is now overdue, and there is a disconnection technician in route to turn off the customer's power. Usually it's power. Sometimes it's other utilities, but almost, it's almost always power within the next 30 to 45 minutes. And so the customer needs to act they need to go purchase typically a prepaid card and call the scammers back with that information within the next 30 to 45 minutes to prevent disconnection. That was their bread and butter back in 2015. It's still our bread and butter today. What's interesting is that we've seen little variations in scammers. They're attuned to what's happening in in their market, so to speak, and how utilities and law enforcement and others are reacting to their tactics. And so they've tried certain things. So for example, they're one of the things that we saw at Duke Energy was that when our smart meters were being deployed in each of our territories, and in our, in our six electric states, the scammers at various times would attempt to kind of take they change the tactic and focus on a meter deposit that the customer had failed to pay something that wouldn't typically show up on a bill and that kind of thing. Kind of trying to capitalize on that on the headlines associated with the utility. And with utility at that particular time, those didn't work very well. So we tend to see the attempt to collect that meter deposit, that scam fell off pretty quickly. We've seen the scammers attempt text and email. sporadically, those don't seem to work very well either, because they don't have the same level of immediacy that a phone call has. So those those tend to flare up at times and then die out on their own. We've seen the scammers explore different payment channels. So we've had some customers report that the scammers have asked them to pay in Bitcoin, which, of course is absurd, because I don't know about Hydro Ottawa, but The Duke Energy certainly does not accept Bitcoin. We've seen them requests zelle transfers, which are actually traceable. So that would work very well for the banks. We've seen a several scammers recently try and use cash app. But their bread and butter has historically been prepaid cards and you know, one or two prepaid cards in particular brands of which I won't mention on on this podcast. But there there are one or two that stand out above all the rest is being particularly susceptible to fraud.


Dan Seguin  13:25

Are there any specific population groups who are frequently targeted? How can we, as a community offer better support to these groups? What's the best line of defense?


Jared Lawrence  13:40

So, you know, again, as with everything that I've seen in the six years that I've been heavily engaged in this topic, they tend to go in cycles. And so in the beginning, it seemed to be random, the victims, the targets seemed to be random. And so since it was random, there was you know, statistically the vast majority of utility customers are residential. And so there was a heavy focus on residential customers. What we started to see is and obviously, I've never spoken with a scammer to validate this. But what we started to see was that the scammers started to use tools, probably online maps, you know, simple tools like Google Maps, etc. to determine what were the businesses in a particular area and how close were they to some of the retail outlets that sold the prepaid cards that they like to use. And the reason they were focusing on businesses is if if they caught up a residential customer, and they would say to a residential customer, you're behind on your bill, you I was two months Well, they really couldn't ask for more than you know, a couple 100 bucks because a typical residential customer knows that they're your average utility bills not going to be that much more than 100 bucks unless it's the heat of the summer that are the depths of winter, but they recognize that they started calling restaurants, veterinary clinics and and others that are fairly energy intensive that they could ask for 1000s of dollars, and it would work because at the same time they would they would get into a rhythm where they would call these particular businesses during what they knew to be, for example, a restaurants busiest part of the day during the lunch hour, a veterinarians busiest type of day, right mid afternoon when they might have had dogs and cats under sedation, a drycleaners busiest time of the day, right around five o'clock in the you know, post the rush hour period when people are dropping in to pick up their dry cleaning, things like that. The scammers became very intelligent about, again on that social engineering aspect of focusing in on the times when their victims were most vulnerable. What we've seen what we've tended to see and I do think that these scammers are paying attention and noticing the impacts from utilities united against scams, in that over the course of the last few years, we have forged a partnership with an organization called Somos, which is the toll free administrator, the toll free number administrator for basically all toll free phone lines across North America. And, and what started happening was that we were getting there, you know, through this partnership, we were having the scammers when 1-800 numbers disconnected. And the scammer started to recognize this and so they have migrated toward more of a robo calling model now, where they call up and they say instead of asking a customer to call back, they say press this number to speak to you know, press one to speak to somebody about your about your delinquent bill, for example. And, and because they're using robo calls now, it's much more random again. And so we're seeing a shift back toward a higher purpose preponderance of residential customers. Now all along we have seen particularly with utility scam, that Spanish speaking populations and Spanish speaking businesses in particular have been more vulnerable. And I think there's two reasons for this: The first of which is that in my conversations with law enforcement in my direct conversations with these scammers, because I talk to them a lot when I'm calling up to validate that they're using fraud numbers, I call them up and try and play along and pretend I'm a victim. They tend to be they seem to be originating from Spanish speaking countries, most likely in Latin America, and law enforcement has corroborated that. And sometimes when I call them up, they're actually answering the line in Spanish, meaning that they are targeting Spanish businesses in particular, at that particular time, and they seem to be much more fluent in Spanish than they are in English at times as well. So and so the reason that we think that these, this customer group is more vulnerable is because there is a, there's a natural language barrier between the routine communications that they would receive from utility versus the communications that they're receiving from these scammers. And therefore, that might cut through some of the awkwardness that a that a native English speaker might pick up on if they were being contacted by somebody who isn't an eight native English speaker, originally versus being a native Spanish speaker. And the second two is that there just seems to be a little bit of less of a reflex of distrust amongst, amongst Spanish speaking businesses and Spanish speaking community and a little bit of a greater trust in official communications, or official sounding communications rather than a reflex to immediately distrust something that is, hits them out of the blue. And so we have seen a disproportionate number of Spanish speaking businesses being targeted and showing up on our victims list.


Dan Seguin  19:00

So in general, Jared, is there anything customers can do to pro actively guard themselves or their loved ones against scams?


Jared Lawrence  19:10

Great question. So I am a big fan of these anti robo call services such as no Robo, it's the one that we use in our house. I'm not a paid spokesman for no robo. But I do actually I have through the scammer come to know the founder and president of No Robo. And, and so that, and from the car registries that he shared with us, we are seeing that they're doing a good job of blocking a lot of these scam calls that are coming from, they're coming from these criminals. So I recommend that because that'll just reduce the likelihood that households or businesses that these calls are making it through the filters in the first place. The second thing is really just to know the signs so you know the basics signs are that a utility. The first communication you get from a utility about a potential delinquent bill or a problem with a payment is not going to be 30 minutes before you're disconnected. And a true utility representative is not going to insist on one particular type of payment, they're not going to make you drive down the street to a local retail outlet, get a specific thing tell you not to talk to the clerk and then force you to come back and make that payment quickly. And if you express any doubts at all about the legitimacy of the call, a legitimate utility representative will be more than happy to have you contact the utility directly using the published number, the public contact channels on your actual bill versus what they give you. Whereas a scammer is going to resist all of those because they know once you do that the gig is up. So that's really those are the key there, you want to want to reduce your vulnerability or your your exposure to scam communications in the first place. And then if they do get through, just be highly educated on the signs.


Dan Seguin  21:12

Okay, great segue to this next important question. What are some ways to identify a utility scammer over the phone? Maybe via text message? And the scariest of them all at your door? What are the red flags to look out for and the best way to deal with them?


Jared Lawrence  21:36

So again, I did I think that the number one thing to keep in mind is that it is very rare that you will get an urgent communication from your utility, about a billing problem. That's it with disconnection being imminent, out of the blue, within the next 45 minutes, that that will be the first communication. So a utility scammer typically is is somebody who contacts you with a sense of urgency, and there's a lot of pressure built into that communication, they will then resist, they will try and give you talk you out of seeking independent verification of identity. So whether it's a call that you get, if you say well Do you mind if I just hang up and call the number back on your official website just to validate this, a scammer will try and talk you out of that they'll say something like the drivers already on his way. Or if it's even worse, if they're at your door. And you and you open the door and you are not expecting them, a utility representative will be more than happy to allow you to take the time to call the Customer Care Center to to validate their legitimacy. Whereas a criminal will try and convince you that something is very urgent and you don't have the time to do so. Those are some of the some of the most obvious signs of a criminal who's trying to pressure you into taking action before you have time to think and get the facts straight. The other thing to keep in mind, too, is and we've seen that we saw this from the very beginning when going back to that first customer care app or raising that concern because she felt that she was relaying the customers felt that their that their information had been compromised when in fact it wasn't just because a a somebody posing as utility rep seems to have your info, it does not make them legitimate. Unfortunately, most information about us as individuals as consumers is available out there on the web. That's just one of the sad facts about about, about modern life. Additionally, though, these scammers are are brilliant social engineers, and they're very good at making you think that they have legitimate information. So even if they a scammer calls up and they quote something that sounds like your legitimate balance, don't trust them. In fact, one of the one of the early cases that got that we researched that first month when we when we deployed that SWAT team I was talking about that really convinced me of the nature of this problem was we had one particular customer who had reported that the scammer had their balance their actual balance. And we looked at the account. And sure enough, the the information that the customer had reported to us did align with what their most recent bill was. And so we talked to the customer and we said well tell us how the conversation went. And they started to think about it. And what they what they finally recalled was that the scammer called them up and said there was a problem with your last payment your payment did not go through the the victim and said well wait a minute. Let me go I happen to be on my online banking system right now. Let me look right here. And I see my payment for $271.30 or whatever it was. It went through on October, October 4 or whatever it was. And then the scammer says no, I see your payment for 200 $71.30 it actually got rejected the next day, October 5 by your bank. And so now the person who was caught off guard by this call in the first place is thinking, Oh, this person's must be legitimate because he has a system right there and my payment is in it. And he knows all about my transaction? Well, no, you told them, you know, they tricked you into giving them that information. And so that's the other key is to never ever volunteer account information or personal information. If they, if somebody calls you up out of the blue, and they are legitimate, they will understand if you don't want to volunteer information, they will invite give you the opportunity to call back their official customer care line. But if if somebody calls you have a blue and starts asking for information about you, that is another clear sign that scam is is likely on, you're likely the victim of a scam.


Dan Seguin  25:51

Okay, worst case scenario. Now, let's say I'm a customer who fell victim to a scam, losing money and possibly personal information in process. What are my options? Is there anyone or anywhere specific that customers can turn to for help?


Jared Lawrence  26:12

There's some good news, but a lot of not good news to share on that front Dan. So the first thing I would recommend is if you have fallen victim, and if you have made a payment using any sort of you know, prepaid card or electronic payment channel, immediately call the fraud line associated with the payment method that you use to do it quickly. The reason is that, and I'm speaking about the prepaid cards in particular, the way these scammers work is that they're they're targeting multiple victims, you know, across the country at any given one time across the continent at any one time. And what they do is they they call you up, they trick you into making that payment. And, and basically in doing that they transfer your money from the card number you provide to a destination card that they're using to collect and use in quotes "launder" the funds. And then every few minutes, they sweep the money off of those cards. So there is typically a small window, where if the scammers have not liquidated those funds into the ether, that if you happen to call back, you might be able to get your money back. But you've got to move quickly because a lot of these payment channels that they use are attractive to scammers, particularly because they're non reversible. And, and so your timing has to be has to be very quick and very spot on with this. So that's that's the first thing to do. The second thing to do is to file a police report. Now, sadly, because these these criminals are typically perpetrating their crimes from offshore, they are not going to be reachable with local law enforcement. But nonetheless, it's important that you file a police report so that it enters the law enforcement database, it helps the various folks in law enforcement at the national level who are trying to create, you know, enough of a body of evidence to investigate these cases investigate these syndicates that are running these scams. And, and I'll also to mention that, for example, in the United Way to one one service here in North Carolina, and there are other organizations, they actually have resources that are available for victims of cybercrime and other frauds. So I would reach out to your local community assistance agency, if you have suffered any financial hardship as a result of being targeted, to determine what resources they have. I'm not aware of any that can restore the funds that you've lost, but they can maybe help you cope with any financial hardship that you're suffering in the near term as a result of being targeted. And then finally, you know, report the attempt to your utility because utility united against scams. We use this information to refine our strategies. We use this information for our engagement with our telecom partners, our engagement with law enforcement and government officials to him to support law enforcement efforts and to try and better shape public policy to protect customers against against these types of scams.


Dan Seguin  29:20

Now, maybe we can look at prevention. What are utility companies and police forces doing to help deter and fight against scammers? Can you tell us any success stories of scammers being deterred or better yet caught?


Jared Lawrence  29:37

Okay, well, I can actually share with you a couple of instances. These weren't directly related to the utility imposter scam. But the larger is the Canadian revenue associations that when CRA stands for Yes. So larger CRA scams, we celebrated when we read articles back in the fall of 2018, and again in 2019, where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police executed successful stings of scam call centers, basically running those texts, those tech scams against Canadian citizens. And in those timeframes. In one case, I believe they arrested 32 Indian nationals who were executing these scams out of a fraudulent call center. And another one, it was 28 criminals who were apprehended in those busts. And really the key there is again, you know, just countless reports of victims, each one a small victim of crime just building up to this very large case. There was also a recent case, in the US with the Internal Revenue Service scam, where I believe that the individual was arrested back in 2017 or 2018, but he was just convicted back in November of 2020, the ringleader, again another Indian call center operation that was running this IRS scam. And the ringleader there was sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined $9 million. So there are there are people in law enforcement at the national level, both in Canada and the US, who are who are paying attention and are specifically focusing on these, you know, very lucrative scams, these very lucrative criminal operations and building cases and seeking international partnerships to bust these operations. I think that those two are an example of of operations that were that were claiming hundreds of millions, if not more, dollars in ill gotten gains. And so they're probably slightly bigger fish in these utility scans. I don't I think these utility scammers are probably collecting millions of dollars a year but not hundreds of billions of dollars a year which is why these other tax related scams are gaining or gaining more attention.


Dan Seguin  32:16

Okay, thanks for sharing. Maybe Jared, tell us what is at the heart or lack thereof, of a scammers intention? What are some of the behaviors that are evidence of this?


Jared Lawrence  32:32

So, you know, one of the things that we have spent a lot of time understanding is what is this is utility imposter scammers M.O., Are they spending a lot of time researching their victims to create a really, you know, compelling story that increases their hit rate, or are they really they're going for high volume, low yield, but making their money off of volume. And it's really the latter. And so what I noticed very quickly, in the various countless times that I've called these fraud numbers to validate the phone numbers to get them shut down, frankly, is that the scammers very quickly try to ascertain whether you are a likely victim. So if you want to talk with them about anything about address change, sometimes I make up that I'm calling about an outage. They will immediately try and turn it into a conversation about an outstanding debt that would that is supposedly going to trigger a disconnection. And if you don't, signal any sort of gullibility toward it at that particular time, they're going to end the call really quickly. They'll try and do it in a way that makes it seem polite enough that you'll still walk away from that thinking that it was legitimate utility interaction. But in reality, you once you step back, you realize they didn't give me any customer service at all. They were they were just trying to figure out if I was, if I was likely mark for them or not. That's the biggest one. The second biggest one is that, you know, we, our customer care agents go through countless hours of training in order to how to maintain professionalism, how to be attentive to customers to listen to their needs. The scammers, they get frustrated really quickly and and if you attempt to call them out, they will very quickly turn on you and say some things that are very rude things that can't even be repeated on podcast. So that is another obvious giveaway is that if the if the person you're talking to starts to become rude, aggressive, or exerts pressure in any way, they're not utility representative.


Dan Seguin  34:44

Okay. Now, in contrast, tell us what's at the heart of any utility as they engage with customers. How can customers use these contracting intentions as a litmus test?


Jared Lawrence  34:58

So recognizing that these scammers might listen to this podcast, I've always a little bit careful to give away all of the strategies I use to validate that when I'm calling them up that they're indeed scammers. However, the obvious signs of a trained utility rep are number one, they're going to be attentive to your needs. Number two, they are not going to try and pressure you in anything, because our goal is to make sure that you are a happy customer that you're getting the service that you need. And if you happen to be facing financial hardship or difficulty paying, we're not going to threaten you with this connection, we're going to offer up payment arrangements, ways to structure your utility debt so that you can maintain service with us, the last thing that a utility professional has to do is to see your account be disconnected for non payment, our goal is to try and work with you as much as we can to keep you engaged in to work within your means with deferred payment arrangements and things like that. So if they if the person on the line is not really working with you, then that is a and they had called you first and that is you know, a pretty obvious sign right there that they're not a not a legitimate utility representative. Secondly, also, as I mentioned before, a scammer is not going to want want to spend any time talking with you about anything other than you are making a payment to them quickly. So if you have questions about say value added products and services, or if you, you know, are having service, you had a service disruption due to a storm or something like that. You can always ask a question about that and see how they handle it. And if they handle it with knowledge, and they actually are able to are showing a willingness to take the time to understand your issue, then that's a more than likely a legitimate utility. Utility representative. If, however, they constantly bring it back to your outstanding your fictitious outstanding debt, then you know, you're dealing with a scammer.


Dan Seguin  36:59

Finally, Jared, what does success look like for utilities united against scams? What is your hope for the next 5 or 10 years?


Jared Lawrence  37:12

So, you know, I read my originally instead of this Dan kind of changes I thought about a little bit more, especially as we have our five year anniversary of utility united against scams coming up just in just next week, actually. And, you know, I was thinking the knee jerk reaction reaction would be to say, Well, I'd like I'd like us to basically put these scammers out of business so that we don't, so we can disband so that there's no need for utilities united against scams. I think that that is a you know, a little bit too rosy of course, I think that I do like to make these utility imposter scams go away. And then just maintain kind of maintain the collaborative, but maintain it in such a way where we're just touching base sharing for information about anything that might be looking suspicious in our markets, and making sure that we are keeping scam activity at a minimum and keeping law enforcement policymakers fully engaged so that scams don't flare back up to the problem that they are right now. So my goal really is to is to achieve that combination of policy, solutions, as well as sheer operational tactics with partners in telecom and the prepaid card space in the other financial mechanism that the scammers use to shut down the loopholes so that this utility imposter scam goes away. And then utilities united against scams is a organization that just meets periodically to keep tabs on the market and make sure that things aren't flaring up again.


Dan Seguin  38:51

Okay. This is it. Jared, are you ready to close us off with some rapid fire questions?


Jared Lawrence  38:59

Sure. Hit me, Dan.


Dan Seguin  39:01

Let me start with this first one. What is your favorite word?


Jared Lawrence  39:06

My favorite word this year is "yes". And I say that is because we did we accomplish so many things on the fly, responding to the pandemic, and the important things that we as utilities had to do to help take care of our communities last year, that previously the answer would have been either No, or it's going to take us a long time to figure that out. So I feel like I and the rest of the industry have been opened up to the power of possibility and so this is the year of of answering all those possibilities with Yes.


Dan Seguin  39:44

Great answer. What is the one thing you can't live without?


Jared Lawrence  39:50

My morning workout.


Dan Seguin  39:51

Moving on. What habit or hobby Have you picked up during shelter in place?


Jared Lawrence  39:58

I started making mead. It is, I find it delicious. I'm not sure that those of my family or my wife have the same opinion. But I would.


Dan Seguin  40:11

Okay, if you could have one superpower, what would it be?


Jared Lawrence  40:16

The ability to sleep through the night without waking up for a variety of reasons.


Dan Seguin  40:21

If you could turn back time, and talk to your 18 year old self, what would you tell him?


Jared Lawrence  40:27

I would tell him not to be so shy I was, I was fairly shy. In my pre professional life, and even the early years of being in the professional world, and I've come to learn that you missed out on a lot by being shy.


Dan Seguin  40:43

And lastly, what do you currently find most interesting in your sector?


Jared Lawrence  40:51

Wow. So there are so many interesting things going on. But I think what is most interesting to me, and the reason why I'm excited to be in this industry for at least another 15 years before I'm ready to retire, is that societies are have made it one of their central goals to achieve carbon neutrality. And utilities are at the center of that not only in terms of hitting our goals within our companies, but being the ones best positioned to offer solutions to help major industries that are our customers help achieve their carbon neutral goals. And so I think the amount of opportunity and the number of interesting challenges that we face in the utility industry on that front is very exciting to me, and one of the reasons why I'm thrilled to continue to be utility leader.


Dan Seguin  41:44

So true, and well said, Jared. Okay, well, we've reached the end of another episode of The ThinkEnergy podcast. Again, thank you so much for joining me today. I really hope you had a lot of fun.


Jared Lawrence  41:58

I did. This was fantastic. Dan, I hope you can tell I am really passionate about fighting scammers, fighting criminals who take advantage of utility customers and so I welcome any opportunity to talk about this topic.


Dan Seguin  42:13

Thank you for joining us today. I truly hope you enjoyed this episode of The ThinkEnergy podcast. For past episodes. Make sure you visit our website blog. Lastly, if you found value in this podcast, be sure to subscribe. Anyway, this podcast is a wrap. Cheers, everyone.