“My passion is in serving Silicon Valley Power customers and communicating the link between energy, the environment and the community,” says Larry Owens, customer services manager of the city’s not-for-profit, municipal electric utility company. “I joke with my team about coming to work, putting myself in customers’ shoes, putting on my utility hat and working to get them to match.”
On September 15, Owens received the Northwest Public Power Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award–the 2015 Lacy Peoples Award–for his commitment to the public power industry and his more than 20 years of service with Silicon Valley Power (SVP) in customer communications and marketing.
“From the onset of utility deregulation 18 years ago to our energy efficiency, low income, and solar rebate public benefit programs, Larry has driven Silicon Valley Power to develop strategies that have won widespread community support for the city’s electric utility. He makes every effort to deliver what the customers need or want to know in a timely and effective manner,” says Director of SVP John Roukema.
“I am honored to receive an award from such a prominent organization. It is very satisfying to be recognized for effective communications in a critical industry serving our community,” says Owens, who was presented with the award at the Northwest Communications & Energy Innovations Conference awards banquet at Harvey’s in Lake Tahoe, NV.
Owens manages SVP’s marketing communications, key customer services, energy-efficiency and renewable energy programs, dark fiber leasing and the development of online information products and services for customers. The electric utility, one of about 30 publicly-owned in California, has received national awards for its Santa Clara Green Power program, customer solar development and other innovative customer programs developed under Owens.
Owens, who was raised in San Jose and earned a degree in Environmental Studies from San Jose State University, began his career with SVP in 1993 as an energy conservation specialist. In 1997, he was named to lead the new marketing and customer services division, created in response to the sudden restructuring of the utility industry.
Owens led communications with Silicon Valley Power customers and the media during the statewide power shortages, encouraging customers voluntarily to reduce use to avoid rolling blackouts. Also under his leadership, the city rebranded its municipal electric utility, adopting the name Silicon Valley Power.
“I’m backed by a great organization. I’m lucky enough to have been part of it during some very big industry transitions, and I’m proud of how effective I’ve been in communicating those changes and proud of being recognized for that,” says Owens.
“Electricity is such a fundamental, clean energy source. It excites me to know electricity is such a great resource for people and makes such a positive contribution to our society. Electricity is like the air we breathe,” he says.
Looking to the future, Owens encourages young people to explore career opportunities in the electric utility industry.
“The connections between electricity and modern technology and the environment are more closely knit than ever before and provide an excellent opportunity for people starting out in this field,” says SVP powerhouse Larry Owens.