Susan Gray assumed leadership of UniSource Energy Services in January 2021, at the peak of a pandemic and amid significant energy industry change.
As she leads our efforts to provide safe, reliable and affordable service, Susan recently sat down to reflect on her first year in the role and to look ahead to future opportunities.
What inspires you about the work you do every day?
The energy we provide drives our economy, supports critical operations and makes our modern lives possible. Without natural gas or electricity, our homes aren’t warm, we can’t pump gas and we can’t access an ATM. So that carries with it an incredible sense of responsibility that I know every one of our employees feels when they report in each day.
It’s also an incredibly exciting time to be in this industry. We’re very focused on innovation because we know we’ll need new technologies and new ways of thinking to keep up with the pace of change and meet our customers’ expectations. We’re constantly evaluating how technological improvements can streamline our work, make our service that much more reliable or help us connect in more convenient ways with our customers.
How has the pandemic impacted UniSource?
Like other companies, we quickly transitioned as many employees as possible to remote work. But you can’t install gas meters or maintain an electric grid from your remote office, so we developed new protections and procedures that have allowed many of our employees to keep working safely in person. We also stepped up our charitable giving and expanded the assistance we provide customers who have struggled to pay their bills during the pandemic. Our customers are our neighbors. It was important to us to partner with them to come up with solutions.
What were some of the accomplishments you were most proud of?
I’m really proud that we maintained safe, reliable energy while protecting our employees and supporting our customers and our communities during the pandemic.
I was also really proud that we lived our values in this trying time. As a company, we’re really focused not just on what we do, but how we do it. With input from our employees and a great deal of discussion, we refreshed our corporate values, which you can see on our website. They guide everything we do, from our day-to-day work to our biggest decisions and the way we serve our communities.
How has UniSource’s service changed in recent years, and what’s coming next?
On the electric side, we’ve reduced our dependence on purchased power through the construction and acquisition of natural gas assets and the integration of renewable energy systems. Those efforts will continue in coming years as we work toward providing 50 percent of our power from wind and solar resources by 2035.
We’ll continue working to help both our gas and electric customers reduce their carbon footprint through greater energy efficiency. We’re also investing in gas system upgrades that ensure our own systems are operating as safely and efficiently as possible.
What are you looking forward to this year?
My hope for 2022 is that we can continue to come together to address our shared goals across our communities. Ultimately, we all want the same thing: clean, safe, reliable, affordable energy. It’s going to take all of us working together to drive the change we want to see.