Meet a real-life Energy Advisor: Greg Bitterling channels Einstein

We caught up with Greg Bitterling, member services manager for Fulton County REMC in Minnesota, where he was traveling with his wife of 25 years and dog (of 11.5 years). He wasn’t exactly sure where he was when he pulled over to chat. That’s not a thing that ever happens to him back home in Fulton County, where he has been through school and through three very different career paths.

What’s the first thing you thought of this morning?

I’m traveling with my dog, so the first thing I thought was “Gotta let the dog out.”

How’d you become an Energy Advisor?

I started with the REMC 16 years ago as an apprentice lineman. About a year into my apprenticeship, there was an opening in secondary voltage. I applied for that and went through line school, got my lineman’s certificate. I started working with the member services manager at that time, and I ended up taking over his position when he retired. But I still go out with the line crew.

What’d you do before?

During my senior year in high school, I went to school for four hours and then worked for a printer. I spent almost 40 hours per week at the factory and actually became a printer. I thought that was where I’d retire from. But about ten years into that, the factory closed. I became a wastewater treatment operator for about four and a half years before I started at the REMC. I have four certifications from those three careers.

What are three words to describe living in Fulton County?

Rural would be the first one, I suppose. Peaceful. And home—it’s where my family is.

With the printing company, I had the opportunity to work in Texas. But I said, nah—my family is here. And I really like being able to go to work without driving through single stoplight.

What’s the last hobby you picked up?

Camping. I bought a camper two years ago. So far, I’ve used it only in Indiana. But I’ve been everywhere out west — Utah, Arizona, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone.

What’s the best vacation you ever had?

Ooooh, I’ve had a lot of good ones. Usually the best is the most recent. This summer, we took our camper and Razor out to West Virginia. We rode around on these old coal-mining trails all week. It was just mountains and valley everywhere.

If you could switch lives with a person for one day, who would it be?

This is gonna sound weird, but I always thought Albert Einstein would be pretty interesting.

You’d be wearing the same clothes all the time.

You know, when I took over as member services manager I’d been wearing a uniform all the time. I still do. In this position I could wear office clothes, but I’m pretty comfortable in the uniform.

In a world without electricity, what would you miss most?

Indoor plumbing. Without electricity, it doesn’t work. My mom grew up without electric, and the old outhouse is still there. Just imagine in winter getting up in the middle of the night and going out through the cold to the outhouse. Even now I don’t wanna get up and walk three steps.

What’s the best thing that happened to you yesterday?

I was actually stuck in a hotel and it rained all day. Going out with my wife that evening was the best.

How’d you change your energy habits at home after you took this job?

It changes the way you look at a house, for sure. We actually built our house in 2001. At a time when everyone else is looking at cabinets and countertops, I was looking at insulation and how to seal. We put in geothermal heat.

What’s the number one thing members want to know?

I’d like to think they wanna know how to save. When I go to a house now, I’m always looking at the frost lines on the roof in early morning to see if the attic is insulated well enough. You buy a car and you get an owner’s manual that’s an inch thick. But buy a house and they just hand you the keys. People don’t necessarily know how it’s supposed to work or how to make it more energy efficient. We help educate people on how to save.

What’s the number one thing you wish they knew?

Energy efficiency—absolutely. We sell electric, so you’d think we’d want members to use as much as possible, but really we want them to feel like they’re getting the best deal.