How to get your energy storage project approved by the C-suite

By Alan Russo, Chief Revenue Officer | July 7, 2020

AI-driven energy storage is the bridge to a renewable energy future. It is an innovative technology that will optimize energy use at your facilities, while enhancing your organization’s resilience. But how can you make your energy storage project a priority for the COO, CFO, or CEO who ultimately wields the pen on the contract? 

An Energy or Operations Director may understand how energy storage works to improve a business while simultaneously doing good for the world by enabling a renewable energy future, but they often need to convince the C-suite as well. 

By considering how the C-suite makes decisions, you can help streamline the process of getting sign-off for your energy storage project and prevent delays in approvals. The following are key steps for getting an energy storage project approved. 

Get the C-suite involved early

When getting started with evaluating energy storage, it’s important to understand who will be involved with the decision-making process and what that process will look like. 

Your Stem representative will work with you to develop a mutual plan. In this plan that you will create with Stem, you will list the key stakeholders and the roles they play in the evaluation process: who needs to review the proposal, who needs to be present in meetings, who needs to review contracts, and who needs to provide approvals. As part of the mutual plan, you will outline each step of the evaluation process and set target dates for each step.  

When Stem reps work with their customers to develop mutual plans, they typically recommend getting the C-suite involved early. This helps ensure you understand all the requirements from the C-suite from the beginning, helping to set and manage expectations, and primes the C-suite for supporting your project. There’s nothing that can help the project along more than getting any and all approvers excited about the project early on. As soon as you determine you’re interested in evaluating energy storage solutions, that is the right time to bring the conversation to the C-suite. Set up an internal meeting first to make the case for evaluating energy storage solutions. Once they are in alignment, set up meetings with them to review proposals from vendors.  

We strongly recommend that the project sponsor let Stem help brief the C-suite. With a decade of market experience, including operating more than 1000 energy storage systems across nine states and three countries, Stem is more than prepared to answer any questions that may come up. C-suite time is hard to come by and precious when you get it; the combination of Stem’s storage expertise and the project sponsor’s insider knowledge will help guarantee an effective meeting and avoid unnecessary future meetings.

Make the case for energy storage

So you understand the benefits of energy storage, and you want to get your executives onboard so you can streamline the evaluation and approval process. How do you get their buy-in?

When communicating with the C-suite, it helps to understand how they think. Corporate-level initiatives are always top of mind. Corporate initiatives are unique to your company, so you’ll want to know what your company’s corporate initiatives are before pitching energy storage. 

In today’s uncertain environment, many organizations have corporate initiatives to reduce operating expenses and strengthen balance sheets. Others are focused on developing resiliency plans and mitigating risk so they are not caught off-guard the next time a business threat occurs. Many executives are also conscientious of enhancing the company’s perception as a sustainability leader by shareholders, customers and employees. Others are looking to implement automation technologies that leverage AI to reduce the amount of staff time dedicated to manual labor. 

Whether your C-suite is focused on strengthening balance sheets, enhancing resilience, boosting sustainability practices, or automating operations, energy storage is a potential solution. It supports each one of these corporate initiatives. So rather than diving straight into a detailed explanation of how energy storage reduces demand charges and participates in electricity markets, keep your pitch high-level and tie it in to the specific corporate initiatives that are top of mind for your executive team. 

Stem’s ebook, Recession-proofing your operations: How energy storage drives sustainability, resilience, and savings provides examples of high-level talking points that are likely to resonate with an executive audience during the current economic climate. Download now. 

Create a sense of urgency

How can you convince decision makers that your energy storage project needs to be prioritized? There are often external factors that drive energy storage projects. In some cases, there are incentive applications that must be submitted by a certain date in order to qualify. Oftentimes, there is a seasonality aspect to storage projects. You’ll want to get your storage project installed before the summer, when electricity prices are highest, or before wildfire season or severe weather seasons, when you need backup power to keep business running during power outages. Other times, there are internal drivers of urgency, such needing to finalize the project details before a busy season. 

Work with your Stem representative to understand and outline the factors that drive a sense of urgency for the project and how to best convey those to the C-suite. 

Discuss the low-risk financial structure 

In the current economy, some executives are understandably hesitant to make new investments. One of the great things about Stem’s solution is that no upfront capital is required. With Stem’s energy storage service agreement, customers do not pay a dime until their system is installed and generates savings. Savings are typically double the monthly service payment, starting from day one. The project generates immediate returns, with no payback period. This is a unique financial structure compared to many other projects, and is likely to help convince executives to say ‘yes’ to energy storage. 

Keep stakeholders updated on progress

Don’t let weeks or months go by between updates on the project. Provide weekly or bi-weekly updates to all project stakeholders to let them know how the project is moving forward, and to give them opportunities to raise concerns or ask questions as they come up instead of finding out there are still unresolved questions during the final phases of contracting. 

Following these guidelines for working with the C-suite will help streamline your energy storage projects and reduce delays. For more information about energy storage solutions and to request a demo, visit stem.com/request-a-demo