Interview with Constellation’s Dino Caro
As the 2019 North American Gas Forum approaches, we spoke with NAGF speaker, Dino Caro, Senior Vice President, C&I Gas Sales at Constellation about the discussions that will take place this October in Washington D.C.
Dino is a 28-year veteran of the energy industry, responsible for Constellation’s sales of natural gas to more than 100,000 commercial and industrial customers, and supports sales of the full range of Constellation products including power, energy efficiency, and on-site generation.
We are pleased to share our recent conversation with Dino.
ED: In your experience, working directly with energy buyers for 28+ years, how have consumer trends changed over the past 10 years?
DC: We’ve seen a demand in efficiency – in both the type of energy used and how that energy is produced.
10 years ago, we began the sharp decline from prices that were routinely above $7/MMBtu (’05-’08) to the $4/MMBtu (’09-’14) then further down to $3/MMBtu (’15), and today even lower. All of this driven by significant new gas production from our shale regions in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
We have also seen unprecedented growth in renewable power generation from both wind and solar projects supported heavily through government-led incentives.
The recognition that our climate is changing has really driven a new era of consciousness regarding sustainability. More and more companies are making commitments to reduce their carbon footprint with several committing to a zero-carbon future.
ED: When selecting a provider, what are energy buyers’ top priorities and how do these differ from previous years?
DC: We’re seeing priorities shift from focusing on the price of a commodity to seeking a value-driving relationship with their energy supplier.
Traditionally, companies have been focused on selecting the lowest price through a RFP, however, there is a shift happening in the industry where energy buyers’ responsibilities are changing. Energy buyers are looking to their supplier to do more than simply provide gas or power. Renewable energy has been growing at an accelerated rate and more companies are setting sustainability goals and taking action, but the path to achieving these goals isn’t always clear. In addition to being a national supplier of the base commodity, we can help customers identify alternatives and build an energy strategy.
Some examples where we have worked with customers are:
- Converting coal to natural gas, including interfacing with the utility and transporters to enable the conversion.
- Sourcing Biogas on behalf of customers to meet renewable requirements
- Offering on-bill financing to implement energy efficiency upgrades that reduce both power and gas consumption.
- Standing between customers and large wind projects by entering into long term PPAs and creating a much less onerous retail PPA for the end-use customer.
- Helping customers strategically purchase natural gas through innovative programs that leverage the same principles that are used in financial investing.
ED: As a leading competitive energy company providing power, natural gas, renewable energy, and energy management products across the U.S., have you seen an increased interest in natural gas versus other sources?
DC: We’re seeing customers become more open to including natural gas as an opportunity among their sustainability goals.
Where there is a focus on carbon neutrality or reducing a customer’s carbon footprint, we have been involved in several process conversions from oil and coal to natural gas. We have also seen an uptick in demand for natural gas as a supply source for fuel cells to generate baseload power for a number of customers.
ED: How is natural gas viewed by major energy buyers? Where do you see concerns or need for education?
DC: We’ve worked with our customers to strategically manage their energy plan and incorporate natural gas in a way that makes sense for their resources and risk tolerance.
We have several customers that realize gas is at all-time lows and have given up trying to find the absolute bottom. These customers have locked-in prices for three to five years while others have taken a more strategic buying approach where they manage price risk over time to create a diversified portfolio.
By proactively engaging and educating our customers about market trends and analysis, we empower them to manage price risk. If you look at the history of natural gas pricing, prices increase quickly following significant events like the polar vortex and natural disasters and then begin to trickle down. Those events were not foreseen, yet the effects lasted for years. Energy buyers should be looking at their natural gas strategy at these price levels and plan early.
ED: You will be joining the North American Gas Forum as a panelist on October 21-23 in Washington D.C. to discuss energy buyers’ perspectives. What are the main opportunities and challenges you look forward to discussing with the industry and peers at NAGF?
DC: There is an opportunity to explore how the role of the energy buyer is changing and how we can address sustainability goals and strategies to manage risk and achieve budget certainty. We often talk about carbon neutrality, net-zero, or zero. How real are these issues? Are we at a stage where these are good ideas only if they are cheaper to execute? Or are we willing to pay a little more to meet these goals? I look forward to participating in the forum to have meaningful discussions and move the industry into the future.
Energy Dialogues proudly presents the 2019 North American Gas Forum, taking place in Washington D.C. this October. Featuring a cutting edge program, fabulous speaker line-up, and premium networking opportunities, NAGF is the ideal platform to share unbiased perspectives and drive solutions to the multidimensional complex that is energy. Join Dino Caro and other prominent energy front-runners for panel discussions, round tables, networking opportunities, and commercial benefits.