George Hawkins is general manager and CEO of one of the most innovative utilities in the country, DC Water. A recent signature achievement of the utility is the adoption of the Cambi thermal hydrolysis process (THP) — the first such installation in North America — to process biosolids in a way that reduces sludge and creates fertilizer as byproduct. That, in combination with considerable resources, has allowed DC Water to market products and services much like a business would; the difference, of course, is that the revenue is re-invested in infrastructure improvements and directly benefits the community.
All this is to say that Hawkins understands and spearheads innovation better than most. He also understands the challenges of big and small utilities alike, though the refrain is familiar nationwide: old infrastructure and inadequate funding.
In this interview, Hawkins details some of his Washington D.C. experience, discusses utility funding as it relates to consumer rates, and explains the role of innovation in surmounting challenges.