Curt Morgan: President & CEO of Vistra Energy
Could you share a little on your new position responsibilities and background?
I assumed the duties of Vistra Energy president and chief executive officer effective in October of 2016, having the good fortune of being on the ground since June of 2016 in sup-port of the first lien creditors who eventually became the stockholders of Vistra upon emergence from bankruptcy. I have worked in the energy industry for 35 years and specifically in the electric power business for the past 20. I was attracted to Vistra Energy primarily because of TXU Energy, our retail electric provider, and the integrated operations of TXU Energy and Luminant, our power generating company. Pairing a retail electric provider of TXU Energy’s size and brand quality with the diverse portfolio of generation assets owned by Luminant provides for a truly unique and valuable operating model. The integrated nature of our business mitigates the extreme volatility inherent in the standalone wholesale and retail markets and makes for a more stable, attractive investment. I see my primary roles as the president and CEO of Vistra as providing overall vision and leadership, defining and driving culture, guiding the governance processes, developing our leadership team, and holding our organization accountable for superior business results and to its core principles.
How would you describe the current industry environment around Energy; production, distribution and retail?
The current wholesale electricity markets, with an emphasis on power generation, are certainly challenged. While ERCOT, where we exclusively operate today, is one of the few electricity markets experiencing year-over-year load growth, we also have seen increased investment in renewable and natural gas fueled generation in recent years leading to an oversupplied wholesale electric power market. This new investment, along with lower power generation fuel costs, has resulted in wholesale power prices at their historic lows. The power generation business is cyclical and right now we are in the midst of a trough in the market. On the retail side, we continue to be excited about the opportunity to create value through the innovative products and services we offer our customers. TXU Energy continues to be a first-mover when it comes to introducing cutting edge retail electricity products to the market, and through our steadfast focus on customer service, coupled with our brand promise of being a stable, reliable, “no surprises” retail electric provider, we continue to attract new customers and retain existing ones in what is a hyper-competitive energy market.
How was Vistra created to respond to the current demands of the Market and Industry?
Vistra is uniquely positioned in our market due to our integrated nature: We produce a tremendous amount of power while also serving 1.7 million residential and business customers. Because electricity cannot be stored and is an instantaneous product we can utilize our generation assets to create products to meet our retail customers ever changing needs. There is an undeniable – and growing – demand for our product. We have a fleet of nuclear power units, natural gas fueled power plants, and coal-fueled power plants that can be called on to meet this demand. We are continually evaluating opportunities to evolve our generation portfolio to be best positioned to meet market conditions and customer needs. There are also growing needs from our retail customers for more electricity related products and services and digital information to manage their electricity usage.
Where do you see this industry in 20 years from now in terms of the needs of the market and the techno-logical advances?
Technological advancement in recent years has changed our industry in a fundamental manner. On the generation side of our business we have seen incredible advancement in renewables – wind and so-lar – and battery technologically seems to be closer to large scale application than ever before. On the retail side, the digital world has placed control over electric power usage in the hands of consumers like never before. We look at the change in our industry as an opportunity for our company more than a threat to it especially given our direct relationship to the customer. Vistra is uniquely positioned in the market to adapt and evolve as technology changes and the industry adopts new methods of generating, delivering, and consuming electricity. The key to Vistra’s long-term strategy and value proposition to our investors is our direct relationship with the end consumer. As long as we maintain that relationship through superior retail product and service offerings we can sustain and capitalize on technology changes that will assuredly change the way electric power is generated, delivered, and sold to consumers, and ultimately maintain our leadership position in Texas.
Stephanie Sapata Moore: General Counsel and EVP of Vistra Energy
Could you share a little on your background and how did you get into Vistra?
I knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was about 9 years old. Growing up, I always looked for opportunities to experience the practice of law (mock trial, teen court in Tampa, where I went to high school, classes in college even though there wasn’t a pre-law major). I went to Duke undergrad and William and Mary Law School. I started in private practice in the corporate and securities group at Gardere, where I worked for almost eight years after law school. In 2005, I decided to make a move from a firm to in-house and started with the company in November of that year, supporting the retail and wholesale businesses as counsel (the entry-level attorney position at the company). I was promoted to senior counsel in 2006. In 2008, when the company went private, I moved with my boss and the wholesale business to Luminant and began supporting the generation and mining organizations in addition to wholesale. Then, in 2012, I became the general counsel of Luminant. And in October of last year I took on the role of general counsel of the parent company over all of Vistra’s competitive businesses.
As General Counsel and EVP, what are your responsibilities and how do you manage them?
We have several broad categories of responsibility in our department – compliance (responsible for centralized re-porting on all compliance matters across the company and primary compliance assurance for wholesale and retail operations); corporate secretary’s office (corporate governance, including coordination of our board of directors); litigation (including labor and employment counseling, commercial litigation and regulatory administrative matters); commercial/operational support (supporting all of our operations teams in commercial transactions); corporate, securities and M&A; and environmental services (reporting, permit-ting and compliance). We have a very experienced and knowledgeable team of attorneys and professionals who provide these support services to our internal clients across the company. We also work with many outside law firms, but strive to handle as much work internally as possible. Our department operates as a mini, internal law firm but our attorneys and professionals are not able to be as specialized as firm attorneys, given the broad range of legal matters that arise within the company every day.
What links do you see between your job and the Hispanic Community? Are there any specific opportunities for Latinos in this industry and Vistra?
I personally try to give back to the Hispanic community in multiple ways. For the past six years, I have served on the board of AVANCE-Dallas, a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower parents, primarily in Hispanic populations of Dallas, to serve as their child’s first teacher, and to ready families to actively participate in and seek out educational opportunities for their children all the way through high school and beyond. Last year, I also joined the board of Girls, Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, an organization that provides afterschool and summer programming for girls ages 5-18, designed to make girls strong, smart, and bold. There are a number of educational programs designed to foster long-term success for our girls, including many Latinos. As a company, Vistra Energy is committed to diversity of thought in our workforce, and leadership ranks and fully supports internal hiring of diverse candidates. In addition, we support diversity among our vendors and suppliers, and the company’s supplier diversity program has been recognized and used as a model for other companies to follow.