Market & Segment Strategy
The fact that Reliant Energy is a major contender in the power company game is no surprise. Beginning in 1999 just before the Texas electricity market opened to competition through state-wide deregulation, it has roots tracing back to the company that brought electricity to Houston for the first time in 1882.
Providing power to over a million homes across Texas, Reliant is part of parent company NRG Energy and is the largest competitive residential electricity retailer statewide. With digital, online and retail locations in numerous Walmarts, Reliant is structured to become an electric provider with ease. Reliant is known for powering the lives of its customers, but many don’t know how much more Reliant does for the communities it serves.
“Even though we’re a big Texas company, we’re really local at heart,” Rolando Salinas, senior manager of Market & Segment Strategy, pointed out. “We have experts in building local community relationships from both the residential and business standpoints who find those opportunities where Reliant can go in and help the community.”
Having been a part of the Reliant team for two years, Salinas likes to emphasize the company’s relationship with its customers.
“Reliant is a company that truly cares for its customers,” he said. “We’re focused on the whole customer experience, making it a positive one that embraces everyone. We’re big on diversity.”
Reliant’s award-winning customer service is available 24/7 in either Spanish or English. One way Reliant builds their customer relationships is through the “Life Switched On” platform, which uses the concept that from the time one arises in the morning and switches on that first light, to making coffee, working on the computer, you get the idea, life is centered with electricity as its mainstay.
“We want to make sure Reliant is providing a seamless experience without having to think about power at all, living with your ‘Life Switch On,’” Salinas said. “We like to think that what is important to you is important to us.”
It’s not only in the power end where Reliant makes an impact on the populace.
“Every year employees of the company contribute over 8,000 hours of community service time in a variety of organizations throughout the state,” he said.
Last year a Reliant team helped an organization that trains horses to help children with disabilities, especially autistic children. Cleaning up the place, making it more accessible, and donating money took sweat and hard work.
Besides those 8,000 volunteer hours, Reliant donates over $3 million to 150 charities and organizations every year.
“It feels good to work for a company that helps – a company that makes a difference in the communities where they are involved,” Salinas said.
Another of their initiatives is helping teach energy management.
“Reliant has an app where people can track their electricity consumption,” he said. “We’ve partnered with Google and Nest in order to offer devices, sometimes as part of an electric plan. For example, when customers signed up for the “Free Weekend” plan they would get a Google Home Hub. They can actually ask it when their Reliant bill is due or how much electricity they used during the week.”
Reliant is constantly trying to identify ways to simplify life for its customers on their own terms.
“It’s a breath of fresh air,” he said. “If I see it from the consumer’s perspective, it’s pretty cool to have a relationship with a brand that does those things.”
Reliant also has a long-standing tradition of being involved in cultural and grassroots type of events such as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, McAllen’s Holiday Parade and McAllen Chamber’s newest massive Mexican cultural festival MXLAN by Shah Eye Center. A member of the McAllen Chamber since 2004, Reliant has also been a partner in the McAllen Chamber Business Expo and McAllen Chamber “Man & Woman of the Year” Annual Banquet.
“Reliant feels MXLAN can be something lasting that would benefit the community and we’re excited to be in on the ground floor,” Salinas explained. “A cultural festival like this can represent our Hispanic heritage and culture and the beautiful mix of everything that goes into that. We believe it’s a great way to participate in the community and take part in it.”
Reliant also is committed to building healthy and sustainable environments through various efforts including the “EcoShare” program, which allows customers to donate a small amount to EarthShare of Texas and purchase carbon offsets. The program has provided more than $1.2 million to nonprofits to offset 558,000 metric tons of carbon, which has had the effect of planting more than 146,000 trees. Rio Grande Valley organizations that participate in these sustainability projects through EarthShare of Texas include Keep Texas Beautiful, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund.
“Our Reliant family of employees lives and works in the markets we serve,” Salinas said. “We strive to be part of our communities and to impact them in a positive way.”