A Q&A with Puget Sound Energy’s CEO, Kimberly Harris

 Kimberly Harris,
President and CEO
of Puget Sound Energy

Kimberly Harris, President and CEO of Puget Sound Energy, is the featured speaker at the February 11 Breakfast Session titled Our Energy Future. Leading into the event, Harris sat down to answer a few of our questions to offer a preview.


What is the biggest challenge Puget Sound Energy (PSE) faced in 2014?

Everything we’re doing at PSE is driven by the goal to be our customer’s energy partner of choice. I’m confident in our ability to get there because in just the last year, I’ve seen numerous examples of innovation and improvements that are enabling us to better serve our customers. At the same time, I recognize there’s even more we need to do and that the pressure will only intensify as alternative technologies become more viable and widespread. I see this as an incredible challenge and a perfect opportunity. 

What is the biggest success PSE achieved in 2014?

I couldn’t name just one! In 2014, we signed agreements with the Port of Tacoma and with TOTE for a liquefied natural gas facility in Tacoma. While this new facility’s primary purpose is ensuring we can meet customer needs during periods of peak demand, it also paves the way for serving local transportation companies looking to shift from traditional fuel sources to cleaner LNG. We rolled out new services like our outage reporting app to better serve customers on a daily basis. In partnership with the American Red Cross, we helped more than 300,000 people in our community be better prepared for an emergency. And we had one of our safest years to date. I take particular pride in these last two achievements since I want every one of our employees to go home safely every day and I want our customers to be ready in case of an emergency.   

What is the biggest opportunity for PSE in 2015?

Transportation efficiency, from electric to hybrids to
alternative fuels, is a major focus for PSE moving into
2015 and beyond.

In the past few years, we put in a lot of new technology to help us better serve customers. Now we’re starting to roll out new products and services that give customers more options and make it easier for them to do business with us. As I mentioned, there’s a tremendous amount of innovation going on, all with the aim of providing the best customer service possible.    

What three technologies and/or market trends are you tracking?

We’re focused on transportation, from electric vehicle chargers for residential customers to CNG refueling stations for large fleets, to plans for a new LNG facility in Tacoma. We’re also working to integrate battery storage into our grid. We’ve seen from other utilities across the country that battery storage has great potential for balancing out intermittent renewable energy sources as well as meeting peak customer demand and providing backup power during outages. By conducting several pilot projects, we’ll be better able to understand how batteries might fit into larger-scale efforts throughout our system. We’ll also have the opportunity to test different battery system technologies, learning more about what might be the best fit with our current and future system design.  

What career achievement are you most proud of?

Harris is looking forward to the first signs of spring at
Snoqualmie Falls as she travels across PSE’s
territory and facilities.

I have the greatest job. Every day, I get to work with a team of people who are dedicated to our customers and driven by the goal of being able to provide our customers with the best service possible. I see that in how we rally and respond during storms. I see that in our teams of people who help businesses and families find ways to save by cutting their energy use. And I see it in all of our efforts to educate customers about safety and getting them prepared for an emergency, whether it’s a power outage or a massive natural disaster.   

What are you looking forward to personally as the season shifts to spring?

PSE has facilities across the state and while I visit throughout the year, I love being able to welcome spring. From our wildflower walks at the Wild Horse Renewable Energy Center in Ellensburg to the first signs of spring around our hydro facilities at Snoqualmie Falls or Baker River, it’s an invigorating and refreshing time of year. 

Kimberly Harris is President and CEO of Puget Sound Energy, a subsidiary of Puget Energy. Named President in 2010 and Chief Executive in 2011, Harris is focused on providing PSE customers with safe, dependable and efficient energy service.