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Q&A with New Mobility Board Member, Arlen Orchard, about Advice, Vacations, & His Unique Insights

As you have seen in recent news EnerTech is adding to our team as part of a continued expansion of the firm's focus on the mobility space. We have asked our newest Mobility Board Member, Arlen Orchard, a few questions that we hope will provide you a glimpse into his personality and also reveal the unique insights he will bring.


What do you feel will be your most prominent contribution as a member of the EnerTech team?


Arlen: "I hope to marry up my role as the Chair of the California Mobility Center (CMC) with my work at EnerTech to provide insights in the new clean mobility ecosystem which will need to thoughtfully integrate so many different industry sectors – everything from automakers, technology companies, suppliers, start-ups, regulators, to traditional utilities. Only through working together will we be able to accelerate the shift to clean transportation alternatives, which is a crucial part of addressing carbon emissions."


As the Chair of the CMC, you have a unique vantage point (as a power industry guy) into the innovation taking place in the automotive sector, what learnings/insights would you like to share?


Arlen: "What strikes me most is how interdependent the various sectors are when it comes to transitioning to clean mobility. From an electric utility perspective, we will be a crucial part of the “fuel” supply chain whether it’s directly providing clean electricity to charge EVs or providing the power to manufacturing hydrogen. This represents both a challenge and revenue opportunity for utilities. In both cases, utilities will need to make substantial investments in infrastructure to meet the demand. The key will be for the various industry sectors to collaborate to cost effectively meet the needs of consumers, auto companies, utilities, and others. I’m excited because EnerTech recognizes this interdependency and the California Mobility Center provides a unique platform to facilitate these conversations and solutions."


With the formation of the CMC, you have some entrepreneurial experience. Are there any thoughts you’d like to share about that experience?


Arlen: "It has been an interesting journey. I’ve spent the majority of my career working for an electric utility and it’s safe to say that historically utilities have been very focused on ensuring reliability and making substantial 30-40 year infrastructure investments. Obviously, all that is changing dramatically and utilities are having to rethink their culture, appetite for risk, and investment decisions as timelines shorten and infrastructure becomes more modular. Despite the progress at SMUD on these fronts, it’s a whole different world when it comes to a start-up like the California Mobility Center where we are creating something completely new and unique, and time is of the essence. Obviously, COVID created additional challenges. I won’t use the most overused word of 2020 “pivot”, but I will say what strikes me is the very short cycle times for decision making and the necessity of constant reevaluation, adjusting, and adapting to a much more dynamic environment. The California Mobility Center has to mirror the startup world in our own business practices when it comes to speed and agility."


What is your dream vacation post Covid-19?


Arlen: "I’m beginning to plan a month long stay in Tuscany for Spring of 2022 with a focus on some of the smaller towns/villages and also planning to attend a week-long cooking class as part of the trip."


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