IES Speaker Series to present 'The Electric Utility of the Past, Present & Future' on Oct 9

  • Steven Klein
    Steven Klein
  • Steven Klein
    Steven Klein
  • Steve Klein
    Steven Klein

Speaker: Steven Klein

Title of presentation:  

“The Electric Utility of the Past, Present & Future – Dinosaur or Technology Enabler?”


For over a century, electric utilities were regulated monopolies that built power plants, strung transmission and distribution lines, billed customers, and were rewarded with a predictable return on investment. Utilities became proficient at reliably sending electrons in one direction from large central station fossil fuel and nuclear power plants to businesses and homes. Today, consumers and businesses are demanding more control over the energy they use, cleaner energy sources and more innovative energy services.  These market trends constitute a formidable threat to traditional utility business models. With the success of energy efficiency and customer owned distributed energy resources (DER’s), primarily solar, utilities are facing declining sales and increasing competition at a time of increasing costs. Utilities may soon face a future in which they will have trouble recovering fixed costs and making a profit because they have historically made money based on the volume of electricity they sell.

Over the next decade an evolutionary tidal wave of disruptive technologies, deregulation and consumer demands will forever change the electric industry.  Disruptions will come from many directions such as distributed generation, energy storage solutions, secure micro-grids, smart appliances, attractive electric vehicle options and abundant behind-the-meter devices that enable limitless energy management options and schemes.

The prevailing narrative of the rooftop solar industry is that they are the good guys who must struggle to avoid being crushed by the slow-to-change, old-school dinosaurs of the electricity utility industry. Whereas the utility industry feels they are unreasonably expected to accommodate electrons flowing in two directions, to and from consumers, without compromising safety and reliability, as a new generation of electronic devices enters the market.

Steven Klein, a recently retired utility industry CEO, will present his perspectives on the past, present and future of the electric utility industry.  You may be surprised to find this utility dinosaur is more enlightened than you may have expected.


Steven J. Klein is a successful and recognized leader in the electric utility industry with 36 years experience of which the past twenty two years he has been the senior executive of two large municipal public power utilities with extensive generation, transmission and distribution assets.  Mr. Klein recently retired but is still sought out for his advice and counsel and serves on various business, academic and research related boards.

2006 to 2015
Served as CEO and General Manager of Snohomish PUD in Everett, Washington.  Snohomish PUD provides power (350,000 customers) and water services (22,000) to an area of 2,200 square miles, including the largest manufacturing facility for the Boeing Company. 

1978 to 2006
Employed by City of Tacoma, Department of Public Utilities in positions ranging from electrical engineer to senior executive of Tacoma Power.  Served as head of Tacoma Power from 1993 to 2006.

University of Washington
B.S. Electrical Engineering
1973 to 1976

Western Washington University 
Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science
1970 to 1973

Monday, October 1, 2018 - 2:53pm