COMMENTARY: What does smart energy mean for the Dayton region?

As the new president and CEO of DP&L, I have spent the past few months connecting with community leaders, elected officials and customers throughout our 24-county service territory. They shared their concerns, asked questions about the future of DP&L and were interested to learn more about how we are building a smarter energy infrastructure to serve our customers.

I am proud to be a member of the Miami Valley community and understand the concerns. We have all been witness to issues our region has faced over the past decade. The energy industry is also facing significant challenges. Nationally and here in Ohio, our industry is undergoing enormous regulatory and market changes. DP&L has adapted to deregulation of its generation assets along with falling electricity prices. Certainly, this hasn’t come without some incredibly difficult decisions in our operations and that has meant eliminating jobs in some areas. With each change, we worked diligently to approach those impacted with respect, care and compassion.

Yet, with all the challenges and change, we have also seen new opportunities emerge in Dayton, and for those energy companies, like DP&L, that have done the hard work necessary to be successful in this new environment, we also see opportunity ahead. DP&L is fortunate to be a part of AES, a Fortune 500 company. Having the support and network of a global energy leader who operates in 15 countries, AES has enabled us to navigate these turbulent times much more successfully than others in our industry.

In addition to corporate support, the leadership, diversity, skills and knowledge that our team brings to their work every day has made it possible for us to meet our mission and make the changes necessary to move forward. Because of their efforts, we are making progress, all while remaining the lowest cost investor-owned utility in Ohio.

Today, this team is dedicated to providing an exceptional customer experience while helping our more than 520,000 customers in 24 counties meet their energy needs in a safe, reliable and sustainable way.

We are also an active partner in improving lives and making a positive, lasting difference in the communities we serve. The DP&L Foundation is the largest corporate foundation in our region. Since it was established in 1985, we have invested more than $30 million in this region in economic development, sustainability, quality of life, poverty reduction, workforce development and inclusion and diversity efforts. Our employee volunteerism and our Foundation contributions will continue to be focused right here in the Miami Valley.

Looking to the future, our team is collaborating to use what we are learning from the industry changes and trends to drive strategies that will help DP&L transform into a company that will be leading the energy industry in the years ahead. After regulatory approvals, we plan to make prudent capital investments to build a modernized and smarter energy infrastructure. While modernizing our energy grid will create jobs, more importantly it comes with significant benefits to all our customers throughout our service area. We are looking forward to the day when through this grid modernization investment, our customers will have smart communities, home & community renewable options and batteries and electric vehicles ready to meet their needs. All that seemed far away, just a short time ago – but that future is now.

For over 100 years, DP&L has been an integral part of the region and we think the future is bright for DP&L, Dayton and the Miami Valley. I believe this energy company is poised to take a big leap forward in our industry, all while remaining a strong partner and a central part of a growing Dayton and Miami Valley.

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Craig Jackson serves as the president and CEO of DP&L, DPL Inc., Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), IPALCO Enterprises, Inc (IPALCO) and AES U.S. Investments, Inc.