ENGIE North America Inc. President and CEO Frank Demaille discussed the international energy company’s transition in a keynote speech to kick off the 2017 New England Energy Conference and Exposition on May 9 in Groton, CT. ENGIE’s strategy is to focus its financial resources on renewable energy and energy storage – and sell or close merchant gas and coal plants – as part of a move to be a more customer-centric and less asset-centric company.
ENGIE’s energy transition focuses on what he labeled the four Ds: decarbonization, decentralization, digitalization, and decreasing demand. Demaille highlighted a new partnership with Ohio State University to achieve a 25 percent reduction in energy consumption, as part of a long-range plan to modernize hundreds of campus buildings and reduce the university’s carbon footprint. The partnership, he said, is an example of how ENGIE is transitioning from operating merchant generating assets to providing energy services to large customers.
Demaille said the 2015 rebranding of GDF SUEZ to ENGIE was part of a new strategy for a company with a legacy of gas production (Gaz de France) and the construction of the Suez Canal. ENGIE identified natural gas as a solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transition from coal and oil to renewable energy. Demaille said that closing coal plants can be costly, but is the right thing to do. He also said the company is “walking the talk” on its energy vision; and that although it may appear economical in the near term to invest in coal generation, that is betting that coal plants will be operating in 30 years – and that’s a bet he’s not willing to make.