CenterPoint Energy is leading the digital revolution in the electric industry. In episode 24 of Grid Talk, host Marty Rosenberg talks with Kenny Mercado who is the Senior Vice President of Electric Operations at CenterPoint Energy. The discussion focuses on CenterPoint’s investment in technology to provide a premiere digital platform for service delivery.
“I think we have a leadership model not only in the Southwest region of the U.S., but across the country and across the globe,” said Mercado. He also talks about what is driving this new era of technology advancement.
“The wholesale market is competitive, and the retail market is competitive, and so many entities can participate and it enables the real evolution of technology to come to the forefront and we make investments across the supply chain.”
Mercado says CenterPoint Energy will have the largest supply of wind power in the world within the next year. We’ll learn what other advancements his utility expects and why cross-industry collaboration is generating new value as well as new opportunities.
Mr. Mercado has been with CenterPoint Energy and predecessor companies for more than 25 years. He oversees the company’s electric business, responsible for leading electric transmission, distribution, engineering and power delivery solutions in the greater Houston area and Evansville, Indiana, where he also leads electric generation.
Mr. Mercado received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Houston. He also received an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.
NorthWestern Energy has one of the largest, and most rural, service areas in the United States, taking in most of Montana and South Dakota. In this episode of Grid Talk, host Marty Rosenberg talks with Bob Rowe, who is the President and CEO of Northwest Energy, about the challenges of delivering power in rural America.
“The entire West is concerned about the ability to meet peak. Within the Pacific Northwest, that concern has, for a number of years, been more acute, but for us the arrow has been at red really going back to our 2015 electric supply plan.”
We’ll hear how NorthWestern Energy is balancing the demand for power with its objective of providing affordable, reliable, and environmentally responsible energy. Mr. Rowe also explains the impact of setting up microgrids in sparsely populated areas.
Bob Rowe has been the President and Chief Executive Officer at NorthWestern Energy since August of 2008. Mr. Rowe has 20-plus years of energy and utility industry experience. He is Co-Chair of the Institute for Electric Innovation, an Institute of the Edison Foundation focused on advancing the adoption of innovative and efficient technologies among electric utilities and their technology partners that will transform the power grid. He is the former chairman and commissioner of the Montana Public Service Commission, and served as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) delivers federal hydropower to more than 40 million Americans every year. In this episode of Grid Talk, host Marty Rosenberg talks with Mark Gabriel who is the CEO and Administrator for WAPA. Mr. Gabriel explains how market dynamics are pushing the transmission grid to its limits.
“We’re adding more and more of the very thing that is pushing us to those limits. I think we’ve got to get a balance of those things.”
We’ll also hear what’s holding up dozens of projects to improve our transmission infrastructure.
Mark Gabriel is Administrator and CEO of the Western Area Power Administration. Gabriel manages the nonprofit federal organization, which markets and delivers low-cost federal hydropower from 57 hydroelectric plants to wholesale customers.
Mr. Gabriel holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Fordham University in New York and completed the coursework for a master’s degree in administration and management from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont.
This episode of Grid Talk features Vivian Bouet who is the Chief Information Officer for CPS Energy in San Antonio. The discussion is centered on how artificial intelligence is being implemented by utilities to improve decision making and improve performance across the value chain.
AI is being used to better inform market operators about demand response, both consumption and production, and even alert potential customers of when and how much power to use at a certain time. It’s also helping utilities predict and mitigate disruptions, while increasing efficiency.
“Overall it allows you to predict more reliably what your operational costs might look like as you think about your budgeting cycles so the intent is to manage the costs also, hopefully, better inform what your spending could be.”
Vivian Bouet is responsible for overseeing the technology roadmap, enterprise architecture, business solutions development, digital experience, and innovation functions at CPS Energy – as well as providing leadership in corporate strategic planning.
Prior to joining CPS Energy, Bouet served in executive leadership and management positions with Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., a Fortune 19 company and Anthem Health Insurance Inc., a Fortune 29 company.
Bouet holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of New York, Albany with graduate studies in Software Engineering at DePaul University.
In this episode of Grid Talk, host Marty Rosenberg talks with Sam duPont who is the Principal of Strategic Programs at Baltimore Gas and Electric. Mr. duPont explains a new program to set customers up with smart and connected home technology. The company will evaluate the impact of the smart home technologies and how to help customers take full advantage.
“The technology can be brilliant. It can be leading edge. It can be amazing, but if no one actually uses it, then it doesn't really matter. We're trying to balance that leading-edge tech with leading-edge community engagement.”
Mr. duPont also talks about what the utility of the future will look like and how customer engagement will be the driving factor.
Mr. duPont has been with Baltimore Gas and Electric for nearly three years. He has been involved with utility strategy and legislative affairs for 17 years. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Davidson College and an MBA from the University of Virginia.
Xcel Energy delivers power to homes and businesses in eight states in the Midwest and West. In this episode of Grid Talk, we hear from the Chairman and CEO of Xcel, Ben Fowke. Mr. Fowke discusses his company’s goal of being carbon-free by 2050 and what we need to invest in now to accomplish the last 20%.
“The technologies that I think about to get that last 20% out are things like the hydrogen-- development of hydrogen fuel as well as storage, advanced nuclear, carbon capture, dispatchable renewable generation, and of course additional storage and demand side management type opportunities.”
Mr. Fowke also predicts a more and more customer-centric grid.
“Customers want to understand more increasingly where their energy is coming from. They want different billing options. They want you to assist with them on electric vehicles. We have some great programs that basically allow for a more seamless transaction through customers that are electing to buy an EV and then giving them billing opportunities that help them save money and actually support the entire grid.”
Mr. Fowke has been Chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy since 2011. He has been with the company for more than 20 years. During that time, he has held a variety of executive positions including Chief Operating Officer (COO) vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) and vice president and CFO of Energy Markets.
He has a Bachelor of Science in accounting and finance from Towson University. He is the current Chairman of Chairman of Edison Electric Institute, the national association of investor-owned electric companies.
On investing in technologies to ensure grid reliability, while meeting carbon-free goals
“I think it's important that we preserve the existing nuclear fleet and seriously invest in what could be the next generation of nuclear.”
In this episode of Grid Talk, host Marty Rosenberg talks with Steve Malnight, President and CEO of Duquesne Light Company in Pittsburgh. Mr. Malnight talks about how Duquesne Light is redefining what it means to be a modern electric utility and how he is using lessons learned from California.
“We're going to serve customers safely, reliably every day with the power they need but do it in very different ways, in ways where customers are not just flipping a switch on and not thinking about where their power comes from but are focused and concerned about their environmental footprint, the resiliency of their system, maybe their self-sufficiency,” said Malnight.
He’ll also discuss the significance of Pittsburgh’s technology hub, including the impact of autonomous vehicles on the electric system.
Steve Malnight was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Duquesne Light Holdings and Duquesne Light Company in April 2019. Prior to joining Duquesne Light, Malnight spent 14 years at Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company. His most recent role at PG&E was Senior Vice President, Energy Supply and Policy where oversaw the development and implementation of Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) energy strategy and policy at the national, state, and local levels.
Malnight holds an MBA from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and a Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
Austin Energy is taking a new, market-based approach to accelerate reduction of carbon emissions in its energy portfolio. In this episode of Grid Talk, Marty Rosenberg talks with Thomas Pierpoint who is the Vice President of Electric System Engineering and Technical Services at the municipal utility. Mr. Pierpont explains how the market-based approach works to benefit and protect ratepayers. He also talks about implementing new technologies to better manage the grid, including the advantages of battery deployment and energy storage.
Thomas Pierpoint joined Austin Energy in September 2019 as Vice President of Electric System Engineering and Technical Services. Mr. Pierpoint has more than 30 years of experience in the utility industry. He was a strategic consultant in the energy and utility industry providing support to a number of utility and energy companies as well as the Congressional Budget Office, the Department of Energy, and FERC.
Mr. Pierpoint earned an advanced certificate for executives in management, innovation, and technology from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Pierpoint also holds a Master of Business Administration and a master’s in project management, both from Keller Graduate School of Management, in addition to a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology from Old Dominion University.
A first-of-its-kind housing project is up and running in the mountains of Colorado. In this episode of Grid Talk, Marty Rosenberg talks with Bryan Hannegan, President and CEO of Holy Cross Energy. Mr. Hannegan explains how a net-zero, all electric community is delivering affordable housing in a Colorado tourism town. He’ll rundown the features that are helping homeowners keep energy costs down.
Mr. Hannegan also talks about how this project is an opportunity to take new technologies from the research stage and put them into use in the real world and how unique partnerships are paving the way.
Bryan Hannegan is joined Holy Cross Energy in July of 2017. Before that he was Associate Laboratory Director at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), where he co-founded the US Department of Energy’s Grid Modernization Initiative and started up the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), a unique “distribution grid in a box” enabling utilities, entrepreneurs and consumers to work together on cleaner, more affordable and more reliable energy systems.
Mr. Hannegan holds a Ph.D. in Earth Systems Science and a M.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, both from the University of California at Irvine, and a B.S. in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma.
This episode of Grid Talk focuses on grid security. Marty Rosenberg interviews Jim Robb, president and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). Mr. Robb talks about how utilities have weathered the COVID-19 crisis and what his number one concern was for employees working remotely. He’ll also explain what risks we face during the rapid evolution of the grid and why he calls it a 3D transformation.
James B. Robb has been president and chief executive officer of NERC since 2018. 2018. Mr. Robb oversees NERC’s mission of assuring the reliability and security of the North American bulk power system. Mr. Robb has more than 30 years of experience in the energy sector as an engineer, a consultant, and a senior executive Mr. Robb earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
In this episode of Grid Talk, host Marty Rosenberg talks with Patti Poppe who is the President and CEO at CMS Energy in Jackson, Michigan. The company is using new technology and old school techniques to accelerate its clean energy plan. Ms. Poppe discusses a first-of-its-kind partnership with Google and UpLight to optimize energy usage. Also, find out how Jackson, Michigan became the most energy efficient small town in the United States.
Ms. Poppe joined CMS Energy in 2011. She was named President and CEO in 2016. She has extensive utility knowledge, including customer experience and satisfaction, rates and regulation, generation, and distribution. Ms. Poppe has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. She obtained a Master of Science in Management from Stanford University.
In episode 13 of Grid Talk, host Marty Rosenberg, talks with Drew Murphy who is a Senior Vice President at of Edison International. The discussion focuses on Edison international’s efforts to meet California’s mandate of delivering 100% carbon-free energy by 2045. Mr. Murphy talks about what changes we will see to meet that objective and the impacts on other parts of the economy.
Mr. Murphy joined Edison International in 2013. He is Senior Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development, responsible for managing the strategic planning process for Edison International and its subsidiaries and oversees the analysis of emerging trends in the industry and their impact on Edison’s regulated utility and competitive businesses. Mr. Murphy earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College in 1983 and a juris doctorate degree from George Washington University in 1987.
In this episode of Grid Talk, Marty Rosenberg talks with two vice presidents from the nation’s largest utility about the impact of the corona virus on their operations. Exelon has 10 million customers in Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia. Joe Svachula is the Vice President of Strategic Planning at Exelon and Eric Helt is the Vice President of Infrastructure Projects. They explain what adjustments they made to the company’s workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic and how the smart grid is helping them keep the lights on while people isolate themselves at home. Find out how smart meters are helping prevent the spread of the virus.
Joe Svachula began his professional career at ComEd in 1988 and has more than 32 years of utility industry experience. Mr. Svachula holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois Chicago and a Master of Engineering Management from Northwestern University.
Eric Helt has been with Exelon for 32 years as a Vice President of Electric Operations and now, as Vice President of Infrastructure Projects. Mr. Helt holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Syracuse University and a Master of Business Administration from Villanova University.
In this episode of Grid Talk, Marty Rosenberg talks with Matthew Ketschke, Vice President at Con Edison in New York. Con Edison operates one of the world's largest energy delivery systems. Mr. Ketschke explains how the utility is working toward a cleaner, more efficient future, and he details the impacts of reducing carbon emissions on the delivery of electricity. You'll hear why delivering power is like managing traffic in midtown Manhattan.
Matthew Ketschke is the Vice President of Distributed Resource Integration for Con Edison. He is responsible for the integration of distributed energy resources to the Con Edison system. He leads the company efforts related to the New York State Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) including demonstration projects and policy development.
Mr. Ketschke joined Con Edison in 1995 and has held various positions of increasing responsibility in operations, construction, and engineering. He is a graduate of Stevens Institute of Technology (BE 1995, MS 1998) and Columbia University (MBA 2009).
In this episode of Grid Talk, Marty Rosenberg talks with Patricia Collawn, who is the Chairman, President, and CEO of PNM in New Mexico. The discussion focuses on how the utility is transforming to a carbon-free portfolio and the timeline. They'll talk about some interesting financial approaches the company is taking to deal with climate change by re-balancing and redesigning its grid and its generation system. Ms. Collwan also talks about how the company is attracting young, new talent.
Ms. Collawn has more than 20 years of utility and energy industry experience. She has been with PNM Resources since 2008. Ms. Collawn earned her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
In this episode, Marty talks with Dr. Shay Bahramirad who is the Vice President of Engineering and Smart Grid at ComEd in Chicago. The subject is ComEd's urban microgrid project. The micorgrid's software evaluates the state of the system and determines what resources to draw upon to keep the grid up and running during any kind of event. Dr. Bahramirad explains how the technology can help the grid withstand the impacts of climate change and how they are designing the community of the future.
Dr. Bahrminrad joined ComEd in 2013. She earned a PhD in electrical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology.
Host Marty Rosenberg talks with Maria Pope, President and CEO of Portland General Electric. The discussion is focused on the utility's smart grid initiatives and how it's engaging customers to improve efficiency and sustainability, while driving down costs. Ms. Pope talks about unique partnerships the utility has entered and how they are "creating a world where two and two is not equaling 4 but is equaling 5 and sometimes 6."
Maria Pope has been with Portland General Electric since 2009. She was named President and CEO in 2017. Pope is an alumna of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and earned her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.
Host Marty Rosenberg talks with Thomas Farrell who is the Chairman, President, and CEO of Dominion Energy. In September, Dominion Energy announced plans for the largest offshore wind development in the country. Farrell gives the details of the project and explains why this significant investment is ready for prime time and why the Virginia coastline is there perfect location for the project.
The podcast also delves into the company's efforts to turn methane gas from pig and cattle farms into a usable product that is less harmful to the environment. Mr. Farrell talks about why this is a tremendous investment for farmers and the environment.
Finally, learn about Dominion Energy's plan to replace every school bus in Virginia with an electric school bus. Find out how 13,000 smart buses will be doing a lot more than hauling kids to and from school.
Thomas Farrell joined Dominion Energy in 1995, In January 2006, he was named president and chief executive officer and was elected chairman of the company’s board in April 2007. He earned his undergraduate degree in economics in 1976 and his law degree in 1979, both from the University of Virginia.
Host Marty Rosenberg talks with the Administrator for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Elliot Mainzer. The discussion focuses on grid modernization and how BPA is keeping up with technological advances and changes to traditional business models in the utility sector.
Elliot Mainzer manages the nonprofit federal agency that markets carbon-free power from Columbia River hydroelectric dams and the region's one nuclear plant. BPA also operates most of the high-voltage power grid across the Pacific Northwest, distributing wind and other energy to the region and beyond.
Mainzer earned his bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of California, Berkeley. He has an MBA and Master of Environmental Studies degree from Yale University.
Host Marty Rosenberg talks with Ralph Izzo, the President and CEO and Chairman of PSEG. The discussion is centered around how sustainability is driving change at one of the largest utilities in the United States. Mr. Izzo explains his approach to sustainability from an environmental perspective and a corporate perspective.
Mr. Izzo is a well-known leader within the utility industry, as well as the public policy arena. He is frequently asked to testify before Congress and speak to organizations on matters pertaining to national energy policy.
Mr. Izzo has been chairman and chief executive officer of Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG) since April 2007. He has been the company’s president and chief operating officer and a member of the board of directors of PSEG since October 2006. Previously, Mr. Izzo was president and chief operating officer of Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G).
Host Marty Rosenberg talks with Doug Hunter about Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). Mr. Hunter is the Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems or UAMPS. UAMPS is at the forefront of the nuclear frontier with its push to construct an SMR plant. Mr. Hunter explains how an SMR is different from a traditional nuclear reactor and why he believes it's a game changer when it comes to carbon free power delivery.
Mr. Hunter joined UAMPS in December of 1983 and is a 36-year veteran of the electric utility industry. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Utah State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of California, Davis. He has served on the board of directors for the American Public Power Association.
Host Marty Rosenberg talks with Chuck Caisley who is the Senior Vice President, Marketing and Public Affairs & the Chief Customer Officer at Evergy, the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light.
Kansas City has become one of the fastest-growing EV markets in the nation. Mr. Caisley explains the utility’s thinking, what it means for rapid renewable growth, the financial nitty-gritty behind it, why its a win-win-win situation, and how EV charging is like a visit to McDonald's.
About Chuck Caisley
Mr. Caisley leads the Energy Solutions and Public Affairs areas with responsibility for the company's small-scale generation projects, energy products and services, energy efficiency and demand response portfolio, community and customer strategy, communications, marketing, economic development, governmental affairs and public relations.
Host Marty Rosenberg talks with Green Mountain Power (GMP) president and CEO Mary Powell. Ms. Powell launched an ambitious energy vision to make Vermont a leader in sustainable energy by providing low carbon, low cost and reliable power to Vermonters. The company has built Vermont’s largest wind farm. GMP made Rutland, VT the solar generation capital of New England, and has installed smart grid technology across the entire utility infrastructure. Mary is leading an energy transformation, providing customers comprehensive energy makeovers that help them save money and use less energy.
Host Marty Rosenberg talks with guest Audrey Zibleman, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Ms. Zibelman is one of the foremost experts in the world on where the electric industry is headed and utility policy.
They discuss the challenges Australia has faced delivering energy amid rapid changes to the industry and what lessons the Unites States can learn from Australia.
Ms. Zibelman has international experience in the public, private, and not-for profit energy sectors. Her recent roles before joining AEMO included Chair of the New York State Public Service Commission and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of system operator PJM, as well as Board-related roles with the US Department of Energy and Advisory Council, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the New York State Planning Board, and the New York State Emergency Planning Council.