Mark Thompson Q&A: New role will help create pricing structures, mitigate risk for large member-consumers
Mark Thompson was recently promoted to Manager of Market-Based Rates and Special Contracts at Hoosier Energy. He previously served as a Key Accounts Manager at Hoosier Energy.
The new role will oversee the analysis, development and implementation of wholesale market-based rates and special contracts with large commercial and industrial loads.
Thompson, who came to Hoosier Energy from Duke Energy just over two years ago, spoke with GridLines about his new position.
Q: You’ve been at Hoosier Energy for a couple of years now, how’s the experience been?
A: It has been a great experience getting to meet so many skilled and knowledgeable people. My work, both within Hoosier Energy and with the six Member Systems that I worked with on key account issues, has already afforded me the opportunity to make new friends and develop relationships. In my short time here, I feel that others have welcomed me and I have been able to be part of working groups and teams collaborating to create real and measurable value for our Member Systems.
Q: Can you tell us about your new position as Manager of Market-Based Rates and Special Contracts and how that’s different from your previous role as a Key Accounts Manager?
A: Sure. This position developed naturally in working with Economic Development, Engineering, and other departments to help our Member Systems attract large consumers to their service territories. In essence, it is to create a pricing structure that reflects the electric market prices and to manage and mitigate risk for Hoosier Energy and the Member Systems while administering and implementing all aspects of these special contract accounts. My past work serving as primary negotiator for special contracts for steel mills, foundries, process plants, co-generation facilities, etc. has provided the experience needed to function in this new role.
Q: The market is obviously as volatile as at any time in recent memory. What kind of challenges does that present as you negotiate rates and contracts?
A: The current volatility and high energy prices are a reminder of the importance of risk mitigation through hedging, bilateral agreements, and other financial instruments. With market-based rates, it is not so much negotiating or calculating a rate, but it is probably better described as creating a pricing structure where the capacity, energy and transmission markets actually set the rate that is charged. In reality, with market-based rates, the main challenges are really being faced by the end consumer as Hoosier Energy and our Member Systems are essentially “passing through” costs to the consumer. It is important that we work with these large consumers to assist them with their hedging strategies and risk mitigation, but it is ultimately their responsibility.
Q: What’s the benefit of having served as a Key Accounts Manager, not only at Hoosier but with Duke Energy before that?
A: I’m biased but I will say that the Key Accounts Manager role and other similar roles in our industry have afforded those in the positions to learn nearly all aspects of the utility business … generation, transmission, distribution, rates, customer/member service, engineering, reliability, power quality, legal, environmental compliance, energy efficiency, customer-owned generation, etc. In addition, you also learn how the different consumers use our product ranging from the operation of a 100MVA arc furnace to a farmer’s hog operation. The opportunities to learn are tremendous and if you go through the days fully aware with your eyes and ears open, it’s amazing how much you can pick up over the years which will prepare you for new roles in our industry.
Q: When you’re not working, how do you spend your time?
A: My wife Susan and I have seven children, six grandchildren, and one more on the way. We enjoy all of our family and the time we spend together. We have a small family farm where my wife breeds miniature horses, donkeys, and cows. I have a T-shirt that says “Stable Boy,” which I only wear around the farm! I still play basketball twice a week and enjoy fishing with my brother Brian from time to time.