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Getting to Know Your Expert Interview Series: Rafael Herzberg, Expert in the Energy Efficiency Community

Energy Central

The energy industry is increasingly becoming a more global community, as technologies being implemented in one corner of the world can make great strides across the globe and lessons learned from utility strategies in one country can have immense implications for those in other nations. As such, Energy Central is grateful that counted among our network of experts come a variety of voices with different perspectives based on them being based outside of the North American. One of our international experts who you’ve no doubt seen lots of insights on the Brazilian market is Rafael Herzberg.

Rafael works as a subject matter expert and energy consultant in Brazil and he brings his valuable insights based on that experience to the Energy Central community on a nearly daily basis. He also happens to be one of our experts in the Energy Efficiency Group, and as such he was eager to participate in our “Getting to Know Your Experts” interview series:

Matt Chester: I’m so appreciative for you being such an active member of Energy Central and for taking the time to participate in this Expert Interview series. I’m sure many of our readers recognize you from how active you are in submitting posts and comments, but they may not know your background. Can you give a bit of an overview of what it is you do in the utility industry and how your career took you there?

Rafael Herzberg: I am an independent energy consultant focusing on board members and C-level for industrial, commercial, and institutional energy users, power distribution companies, power traders in connection with decision making processes regarding energy contracting (power, gas, biomass, solar, etc.), energy efficiency, on-site power projects (generation, cogeneration and high voltage access) “all the way” including energy-related info, analysis, crafting alternatives, and helping decision-makers finding what’s best for them considering their companies boundary conditions.

I started my career as an electric engineer developing energy efficiency in a company that manufactured electric power connectors and accessories.  The success of this initiative led me to set up a consulting company, a shared savings pioneer in Brazil for inside the fence energy savings and to the fence power projects. Then we were pioneers (again) developing structured projects (high voltage substations, peaking and base power projects) and contracting power in the deregulated markets since the very beginning of this alternative (in Brazil).

 

MC: You bring your perspective on the Brazilian energy industry to Energy Central. Can you outline some of the key differences between the North American energy industry compared with its South American counterpart?

RH: There are two very important differences. One is the decision-making process. The other is the regulatory framework. The first has to do with the Brazilian cultural trait. Only VPs and C-level are able to discuss energy-related solutions as a whole. Managers do not have a say regarding anything really important. Our regulations are weak, unstable, and do not favor stability (from a legal perspective). The scenario is associated with uncertainties which make it more difficult for investments.

MC: Why do you think energy efficiency is, in particular, an area of focus on which the global energy industry should concentrate? Where do you think there’s the most opportunity for improvement across the utility sector that’s not being properly tapped into as of now?  

RH: Energy efficiency is a must when it comes to competitiveness. If a business unit or even a country is willing to be very good and competitive, both kWh/physical usage and the $/kWh must be competitive. This applies to energy consumption around the globe. If a country does have strong and stable regulations as well as an efficient system, then it can fly on a competitive level. Otherwise, it is a fiasco!

 

MC: If you could deliver one message to the executives at utility companies and make them take action based on your words, what would you say? What’s the single most important change you’d make if you had the power?

RH: Focusing on the client. It is a worldwide temptation to sit down and relax because utility companies are regulated and so they are (usually) in a very comfortable position not taking a proactive position before their clients. The name of the game is teaming up with the clients to help them strive. Not only writing nice sentences on their websites (mission, values, commitments) but making their clients “go for excellent results” in a win-win format. 

 

MC: You’re one of our most active and trusted registered experts at Energy Central—what value do you get from this community? What keeps you coming back? And what value do you hope your fellow community members take away from your contributions and insights?

Interacting with the Energy Central community is a very valuable “tool” to learn about what’s going on around the energy community.


 

Thanks once again to Rafael for sharing his time and insights in this interview and for being a valued expert in the Energy Central Community. Now that you know where his expertise comes from, watch for content and comments from him and engage with him to gain more insights from his well of knowledge.

The other expert interviews that we’ve completed in this series can be read here, and if you are interested in becoming an expert then you can reach out to me or you can apply here.

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