Lori Burkhart is Managing Editor of Public Utilities Fortnightly and has over twenty years of experience in utility regulation in this position and as Legal Editor of Public Utilities Reports.
The PUF team was seemingly everywhere recently, talking to so many in the industry to bring you this busting at the seams May issue of the magazine.
We had fun bringing it all together. So much so that it didn't seem like work and when you read these pages, you won't realize how much you are learning.
Our time at Arizona Public Service was amazing! You think you know a company, but when you spend days there and really dig in with them, so much is revealed. It is special to go in-depth with workers at all levels of the utility, to peel back the layers, and spend time getting to know them.
You will hear from the top, as APS President Jeff Guldner sat down with PUF's Steve Mitnick for a discussion on policies and decision making at the utility. You will visit the Punkin Center Battery Storage site, about ninety miles northeast of Phoenix, and one of the first true distribution system rebuild deferral projects in the nation. You will learn about the massive initiative to educate and migrate about one million residential customers to new service rate plans in fewer than nine months. And find out about the unique rate designs at APS and its recent shift to match changes in technologies and customer usage.
The PUF team on its visit was honored to listen to Commander Kirk Lippold, Retired, U.S. Navy, speak to the APS veteran's group about leadership and his experience on board the USS Cole on October 12, 2000 when it was attacked by al-Qaeda, in the port of Aden, Yemen. In these pages, you will also hear his experience that fateful day as well as his words of wisdom.
This issue tackles diversity in utility spend and the workplace in this issue. My mother always told me that if everyone was the same in this world, think how boring life would be. She was on to something, as top companies pursue diversity for many vital reasons. You will find insightful perspectives in these pages from utility leaders to contractors on the why and how to ensure everyone gets a fair shot at jobs and as suppliers. Ralph Izzo, CEO, Public Service Enterprise Group, Richard Mark, President and Chairman, Ameren Illinois, and Charles Matthew, CEO, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas are among those you will hear from.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Annual Meeting had a lot going on this year. The only problem PUF had, was we couldn't talk to everyone. So, we talked to a geographically varied group of cooperative leaders to provide insight. The cooperative business model of serving members is different than the investor-owned model, but customers are after the same advances in technology, so both face the same issues, and the cooperatives are tackling them head-on.
Their stories are fun too, with a little bit of Americana thrown in. You will hear Mike Couick, CEO of Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, admit that, it may just be a legend, but they flipped a coin and the loser had to service an area in the 1950s. No one was there then. There were only farmers on two islands. There was no access to electricity. So, co-ops served those two islands. These two islands are Kiawah and Hilton Head.
You have to love hearing that. Because this industry is about more than where we are going. It has a wonderful past to delight in. Take your time reading the NRECA portion of this issue, as you will unearth many such gems.
Then there is MEDSIS. It's about modernizing the grid in the District of Columbia. This is dear to the hearts of the PUF team, because we are headquartered across the Potomac River from that special city.
The D.C. Public Service Commission took on MEDSIS without a legislative mandate. That kind of planning is usually left up to the utility companies, so the PSC will be watched across the nation as it moves forward.
The PUF team talked to the interests on all sides of the MEDSIS process, allowing you to dig into how it is progressing. You will hear from D.C. PSC Chair Willie Phillips, Sharon Allen with Smart Electric Power Alliance, Nina Dodge with D.C. Climate Change, and Melissa Lavinson with Pepco Holdings. They had a lot to say about this fascinating grid mod project.
Then there is EPRI. We bring you a fabulous roundtable discussion with EPRI's experts. They talk about how the power grid now more than ever, needs to be flexible to respond to instantaneous changes in demand, and the reduced availability of conventional base load generating plants. How can the grid keep up with an increase in renewables and distributed energy resources, with increased grid variability, and in some areas, negative electricity prices? EPRI's experts will tell you in these pages.
And there's more. We're excited about this issue and sure you will enjoy it.