Intelligent Utility: Dissecting an ESCO

East Coast Power & Gas COO Vincent Palmieri

East Coast Power & Gas COO Vincent Palmieri

By Kathleen Wolf Davis

We chat with Vincent Palmieri, chief operating officer with East Coast Power & Gas, about what an ESCO is and how it is to work for one. 

How do you explain being part of an ESCO to others? What's your nutshell explanation of that vs. a traditional utility -- say to people you meet at a cocktail party?

Palmieri: An ESCO is an energy service company. We are a utility’s direct competition by providing consumers a choice in their energy supply. Unlike a traditional utility company, which is usually a quasi-government regulated entity, an ESCO is incentivized to operate efficiently and offer customers competitive products and services, as ESCOs are exposed to competitive markets. They can offer customers budget certainty through a fixed price contract, as well as appeal to the environmentally conscious with renewable product choices.

What are your largest projects in play right now? Updates? Upgrades? New systems?

Palmieri: After having redesigned our internal processes and protocols so as to operate more efficiently and help to better mitigate risks, I feel more comfortable that the infrastructure is in place to focus on growing the business and brand. To that end, we just completed and announced our partnership with the New York Mets baseball team. It is something we are very proud of and happy to be associated with such a strong brand. We are their official energy provider, and part of the deal includes signage in their ballpark Citifield. We are excited about the branding opportunity and exposure a deal like this provides for.  

What's your favorite part of your job?

Palmieri: I’ve spent 20 years in the energy industry serving in all facets of the business from trading, banking, working in utility environments and energy financial markets. So, I truly love this industry and business. What is so gratifying about my current position is being able to educate the public on what we do and how we can help people save money and provide them with options that they didn’t even think they had. The opportunity to draw upon my many experiences and roles I have had over the years -- and to be able to share and apply them here -- is most rewarding. 

What lessons has this job taught you?

Palmieri: Two decades in the energy industry has taught me to build a great team. Time management is near the top for me as well, along with putting in place efficient policies, protocols and processes around that team. This allows me to delegate and have the time to focus on leading the organization. This particular job continues to teach me about leadership and how important an effective leader is for a company’s growth. I’m fortunate that I do have years of experience under my belt, but every job is different. 

What advice would you give other chief operating officers in this business?

Palmieri: In addition to overseeing the day to day, you must also set a clear vision for a company’s identity: growth, corporate practices and culture. We manage and grow the operations so the bottom line is obviously very important, but we also manage the most important part of any company and that is the people who come to work every day and the people we all serve, the customer. 

To that end, it is imperative we build a skilled team, provide them the resources they need, remove any obstacles hindering them and empower them to perform their job as best they can. If we can do that, we all succeed.

In my opinion, any leader needs to have their finger on the pulse of the business, and you can’t do that from staying behind a desk all day. You need to interact with your team. Listen to them and understand how they are succeeding -- but also why they might be failing and of course how you can remedy that.