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Retail Supplier Relaunches As Sustainable-Focused Tomorrow Energy

Mission Is To Become Leading Renewable Energy-Focused Company In Its Markets

February 20, 2019

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Copyright 2010-19
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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Today, Sperian Energy is officially transitioning to its new name and business Tomorrow Energy

The change in name had been first reported by last year

Paul Keene, CEO of Tomorrow Energy, told that the change is not a mere brand change, but represents a comprehensive change in the company's focus and mission

"With our transition to Tomorrow Energy, we're not just changing our name, it's changing our core mission," Keene said

"The core mission is to become the leading renewable energy-focused company in all the markets that we participate in," Keene said

As previously reported, Keene joined then-named Sperian about a year and a half ago, having previously held senior leadership positions at NRG, including responsibility for Green Mountain Energy. Keene also previously founded a community solar provider

The change to Tomorrow Energy was prompted by a review of customer demand, both in energy and other consumer industries

"We were looking at consumer businesses, and if you think about it across a number of product categories, consumers are increasingly becoming interested in what the companies that they support are doing, and what impact they're having on the world," Keene said

Tomorrow Energy also reviewed and revised its internal operations and processes to be consistent with its sustainability mission, reducing waste and engaging in re-use and recycling, Keene said.

All customers will be served under the Tomorrow Energy name; the company did not retain the Sperian brand for market segmentation, as Keene said that a non-green brand would dilute the company's mission

"I'd look at some of our larger renewable-focused competitors, I think that's a weakness that they have, is that they're part of, their corporate parents have a lot of non-green assets, including generation," Keene said

"Having a mission driven company where it's not just a brand that we're putting on for customers, but it's really part of the whole company, that's what is important for us," Keene said

Keene also said maintaining a single brand is simpler

For new service, Tomorrow Energy will offer only products with a renewable component -- local or national wind or solar for electricity, and a carbon offset product for natural gas

Tomorrow Energy's leading electricity product, known as "EarthCare 16", will include a recurring plant-a-tree feature, under an affiliation with the Arbor Day Foundation. Tomorrow Energy will plant 1 tree for every 3 months that the customer takes service under the product

Keene said that the tree planting feature is a more tangible sustainable action to customers, who may view discussions of RECs and offsets as wonky.

Discussing the company's product strategy, Keene noted the retail energy industry's current focus on bundling, stating, "I think bundling is sometimes overused, I think it's kind of an industry buzzword."

Keene emphasized that, "We're focused on meeting customer needs, and meeting needs that aren't currently being met."

For example, Keene doesn't want to offer a thermostat that a customer can easily get at Best Buy or Amazon

As Tomorrow Energy considers product development, Keene is focused on meeting unmet needs, asking, "What are the things that I can deliver to a customer that they can't currently easily get?"

With the new mission on renewable offerings, we asked Keene if Tomorrow Energy would be expanding into REC marketing outside of load-following supply offers, such as in states not open to retail choice

Keene said that Tomorrow Energy is still at a size that it has a lot of room to grow in its current retail choice markets, which is where the focus is right now. REC marketing, outside of load-following supply, may be a service offered down the road, but not this year, Keene said

We also asked if Tomorrow Energy would offer community solar

Keene said that, "we do a lot of thinking about," community solar, as it would be a, "natural fit."

Of the solar plays available, "community solar is the best fit with retail energy," Keene said

Keene contrasted community solar to physical assets that require designing, and customizing a system for a sale.

In contrast, with community solar, if a company has inventory readily available, it can simply sell a community solar contract just as it would a supply contract. The challenge is matching inventory and demand

Keene said that, apart from changing the company's mission and culture, Tomorrow Energy focused on expanding so that it could offer dual fuel (electricity and gas) across its Northeast markets

Tomorrow Energy has not yet entered the Texas electric market. Keene cited the challenges Texas faced last summer, and said that the company would look to a 2020 entry for Texas

Discussing the retail energy industry generally, Keene said, "the opportunity is definitely there," for growth

While the overall market is not growing, "we've been growing pretty quickly," Keene said, observing that the company's model is working

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