Top Innovators: 2021 Individuals and Teams


Innovation Imperative

Fortnightly Magazine - October 25 2021

PUF is excited about the Fortnightly Top Innovators 2021, because their stories are inspiring and uplifting. It's what we all need after a most trying and unusual pandemic time in our lives. It's about looking to the future and making it better. You can download a copy of the complete issue using this link.

Ameren Missouri's Customer Advocacy Team connected customers to financial assistance by launching their first-ever online assistance program, the COVID-19 Income Relief Program. Working in partnership with the United Way of Greater St. Louis, the team designed, launched, and administered an online application to route eligible customers to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and customers over income levels for LIHEAP, but dealing with a sudden loss of income, to the Ameren Missouri COVID-19 Income Relief application. They worked with Ameren Missouri Communications to reach customers through a variety of channels, assisting two thousand customers with five hundred thousand dollars of allocated funding, and connecting thousands more to LIHEAP and other programs. The Customer Advocacy Team includes Constance Taylor, Customer Experience Strategic Initiatives Manager; Mykinna Howard, Supervisor Energy Assistance; and Shontae Fluelen, Customer Advocacy Associate.

Shey Segelhorst, Ameren Illinois Corporation, Engineer – Distribution System Planning, recently developed an in-house sub-transmission hosting capacity tool using Python. The tool is a key component in the further development of the integrated distribution grid and will allow Ameren to create Hosting Capacity Maps for their sub-transmission system. Segelhorst works on development of this sub-transmission hosting capacity tool in addition to his responsibilities as planning engineer for Ameren Illinois' South Electric Region. 

Adam Shaw, Ameren Illinois, Records Specialist – Gas System Excellence Team, implements process safety improvements to Ameren Illinois Gas Operations and Emergency Response to uncontrolled blowing gas events resulting from excavation damages to the gas system. He recently developed a mobile application for real time communication across the organization, resulting in consistent visibility of the impact of excavation damages on the gas system and the operational response. He has also trained and supported the field users on the application and took feedback from field supervisors and senior leadership to implement enhancements.

Ameren Illinois' Energy Efficiency Team partners with local contractors across its service territory to bring Ameren's award-winning Energy Efficiency Program to customers. These specially trained Program Allies form a statewide network that delivers energy savings to customers and service communities. The Ally Training Program focuses on the Small Business Direct Install Initiative, enabling Ameren to partner with diverse small business contractors to recruit, mentor, and train others. Their collective efforts have created new revenue streams, one delivering the largest savings ever for a single project at eight hundred fifty thousand kilowatt hours. The Energy Efficiency Team includes Ken Woolcutt, Manager – Energy Efficiency; Nicholas Crowder, Energy Efficiency Advisor; and James Dillon, Senior Manager – Energy Efficiency Operations.

Ameren Missouri's Smart Meter Program Team – Ameren Business & Corporate Services recently delivered an industry leading program that increased choice and drove digitization while maintaining an excellent customer experience for nearly one million residential electric customers. With this program in place, customers now have five core rates available and seven total options. The team also developed a customer communications plan to ensure customers remained informed throughout the process and to enhance digital channels to drive self-service, minimizing impacts to contact centers and customer support teams. Collectively, these efforts have led to the successful rollout of one of the nation's most progressive residential rate offerings across utilities on an aggressive six-month timeline. The Smart Meter Program Team is a joint venture between Ameren Missouri and Ameren Digital and includes Amanda Barbieri, Senior Manager – AMI Strategy & Implementation; Page Selby, Manager – Customer Programs; Katie Dorge, Supervisor – Customer Experience; Amanda Humphrey, Customer Solutions Analyst – Customer Experience; Jeni Hagen, Communications Executive; Jeff Willey, Project Manager; Clark Allen, Senior Manager – Digital Program Management; Dianna DeWitt, Senior Business Analyst; Robert Horner, Project Manager; Mike Ross, IT Programmer Analyst IV; Celeste Settles, Senior Business Analyst; Andi Hoffman, Manager – Software Engineering; Jeronica Jenkins, Senior Manager – Digital Customer Experience; Kim Donley, Scrum Master – Digital Customer Experience; and Dawn Jones, User Experience Designer.

Stephen Goodson, Vice President of Corporate Communication and Business Strategy – Jones Onslow EMC, leads his team working with Apogee Interactive to deploy digital solutions for onboarding customers and increase operational efficiency. After the initial six-month pilot, Jones Onslow EMC achieved measurable improvements in customer satisfaction and operations and Apogee's personalized Welcome Series solution. This included an over ten percent increase in program participation and increased open rates and click-thru rates compared to their prior program.

Arizona Public Service (APS) has worked to integrate the company's cable tracking mobile solution into their Transmission & Distribution department, developing the platform in coordination with the vendor, Fulcrum. A year-long pilot program created to field-test Fulcrum and develop substation reporting resulted in immediate cost savings of approximately two hundred hours per year by reducing non-value add activities through the entire organization. Fulcrum reduces report writing time by over eighty percent and reduces the risk of error in the report writing through automation. The APS System & Cable Improvement team has doubled production, installing more wire by May 2021 than in all of 2020. APS personnel on this project includes Kyle Woolfolk, Manager; Michael Shaw, Construction Supervisor & Sponsor/Designer; Christian Schroeder, Construction Planner & Subject Matter Expert/Designer; Meagan Petarieu, Material Coordinator & End User; James Nebrich, Construction Wire Pulling Foreman & End User; Kit Roney, Senior Predictive Maintenance Technician & End User; Christina Cloer, Utility Arborist & Subject Matter Expert/Designer; Chris Odonal, Contract Construction General Foreman; and Andrew Rable, Manager – Forestry and Special Programs & Project Sponsor.

Arizona Public Service, in partnership with DIREXYON Technologies, has developed and deployed a unique solution enabling its Transmission & Distribution (T&D) System Health department to use machine learning for predictive modeling. The advanced financial modeling solution digitizes transmission and distribution asset investment planning strategies and provides complex, predictive analytics and critical decision support for nearly one and a half million individual assets across thirteen asset classes. Utilizing data from various sources across the enterprise and leveraging the scalable platform, APS created a comprehensive and easy-to-use model of the distribution system. Team members on this project include Mike Melaragni, IT Executive Sponsor; Kim Wagie, IT Sponsor; Sanket Adhikari, Project Sponsor; Anuya Sheorey, IT Stakeholder – Digital Experience; Pat Kelly, Product Owner; Eric Fleming, Lead Data Scientist; Murali Sankaran, Data Engineer; Pritam Rajagopal, Solutions Engineer; Abhishek Singh, Solutions Engineer; Randall Booze, Design & Spatial Management Solution Engineer; Raed Hamzeh, Enterprise Architect; Antranik Tatian, Stakeholder; Maria Mueller, IT PM & Scrub Master; Tony Tewelis, Business Executive Sponsor; Rinly Moolakatt, Business Sponsor; Mike Adams, Business Stakeholder; Ryan Fulmer, Lead Business Subject Matter Expert; Jeremy Garcia, Business Stakeholder; and Christopher Fathauer, Lead Business Subject Matter Expert.

Arizona Public Service (APS) introduced a targeted fast-track emergency air conditioning program in 2020 to support vulnerable customers with heat relief if their air conditioner failed and they could not pay for repairs or leave their home. APS, in conjunction with the Foundation for Senior Living and Three Cubed, designed a solution and built a streamlined process from the customer perspective, bringing the Heat Relief program together in under three months. APS also leveraged relationships with other electric utility providers and philanthropic organizations in Arizona to raise one hundred seventy-five thousand dollars in funding. In 2021, APS has partnered with the Foundation for Senior Living, St. Vincent de Paul, The Salvation Army, Solari, Inc., and Lyft, to provide various heat-relief assistance for the state's vulnerable populations and help with air-conditioning repairs and replacements, emergency shelters, eviction protection, hydration stations, and transportation services. Innovators from APS include Miguel Bravo, Manager of Strategic Partnerships; Jim Holbrook, Supervisor of Customer Assistance Solutions; and Christine Helmuth, Senior Corporate Giving Specialist, from APS, along with Carrie Smith, Chief Operation Officer, Foundation for Senior Living.

Mansur Ali Mohammed, AVANGRID, Senior Manager – IT Architecture & Innovation, has led the implementation of the pilot and proof of concept solution Automated Overhead Network Inspection using Internet of Things and Edge Computing. His work with this innovation's edge data capture and deep learning uses edge computing to automate vision-based power line inspections, improving both speed and accuracy, as well as reducing costs. As head of IT Innovation, Mohammed is redefining IT, promoting digital transformation, and creating innovative data-driven IT strategies to deliver value-generating solutions.

Teddy Menke, Burns & McDonnell, Product Engineer, leverages 3D technology to rapidly capture and create models with high-resolution images and depth data, enabling a virtual design collaboration of the physical world. As part of the innovation team within the Transmission & Distribution Group, Menke manages the program to use Matterport cameras to conduct 3D scans of a site and edit 2D photography to create an immersive, realistic 3D space without any manual postproduction. This technology has reduced engineering hours to complete projects by twenty-five percent or more.

The California Public Utilities Commission's Microgrids and Resiliency Team develops and executes regulations, tariffs, and programs for microgrids to enhance resiliency of the electric grid and reduce barriers for microgrid deployment. Their efforts have spanned growth in both utility owned infrastructure and privately owned microgrids, including the development of programs in disadvantaged communities to support environmental and social justice. Their work has streamlined the interconnection process to ease customer burdens for microgrid installation while maintaining the safety of customers and utility workers, and empowered local and tribal governments looking to leverage microgrids as part of their resiliency planning. The Microgrids and Resiliency Team includes Genevieve Shiroma, Commissioner; Leuwam Tesfai, Chief of Staff; Colin Rizzo, Administrative Law Judge; Forest Kaser, Program and Project Supervisor; Joyce Steingass, Senior Utilities Engineer; Jessica Tse, Senior Analyst; Rosanne Ratkiewich, Senior Analyst; Patrick Saxton, Senior Utilities Engineer; Daniel Tutt, Utilities Engineer; Christina Tan, Advisor; Anand Durvasula, Advisor; Elizabeth Dorman, Attorney; Andrew Dugowson, Advisor; and Julian Enis, Utilities Engineer.

CenterPoint Energy's Real-Time Operations (RTO) Team is responsible for continual operations of the company-owned portions of the electric transmission network. During Winter Storm Uri and the power generation shortfall, the team of forty-four helped protect the Texas electric grid and prevent a statewide blackout, by complying with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas's orders to shed load. They simultaneously worked to restore electricity to customers and devise innovative ways to rotate power outages among customers. The RTO team is comprised by the following members: David Mercado, Director – Real-Time Operations; Tamme Chilton, Manager – Grid Training; Kevin Tanzi, Manager – System Operations; Everett Charles, Supervisor – System Operations; Marcos Garza, Supervisor – System Scheduling; Michael Nunn, Supervisor – System Operations; Stephen Osborne, Supervisor – System Operations; Conrad Troncoso, Supervisor – System Operations; Al Woodard, Supervisor – System Operations; Michael Cruz-Montes, Lead Electric Grid Trainer; Dante Jackson, Lead Electric Grid Trainer; Nate Perio, Lead Electric Grid Trainer; Ronny Reed, Lead Consultant – Transmission Policy; Muhammad Ashraf, Senior System Controller; Shane Herrera, System Controller; Joseph Scott, System Controller; Robert Wegner, Staff System Controller; Chris Arbing, Staff Transmission Outage Scheduler; Mark Bazmore, Staff Transmission Outage Scheduler; Victor Dominguez, Staff Transmission Outage Scheduler; Joe Harris, Senior System Controller; Brent Jordan, Staff Transmission Outage Scheduler; Eddie Wallace, Senior System Controller; Josh Likens, Senior System Controller; Joe Osorio, System Controller; Jason Pena, System Controller; Rayburn Williams, Staff System Controller; Paul Barnwell, System Controller; Brandon Fullerton, System Controller; Mike Hall, Staff System Controller; Gordon Joncic, Senior System Controller; Paul Keys, Senior System Controller; Robert Rodriguez, Staff System Controller; Timothy Rumfield, Senior System Controller; Pete Williams, Senior System Controller; Scott Green, System Controller; Jim Plourde, Staff System Controller; Daniel Rumfield, System Controller; Brandon Sole, Senior System Controller; Maribel Khayat, Consultant Engineer – Electric; Ward Jablonski, Senior Engineer – Electric; Jessica Hernandez, Engineer – Electric; Tim Sullivan, Director – Substation Operations; and Mike Pakeltis, Director – Transmission Operations.

Kameale C. Terry, ChargerHelp!, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, leverages her experience, including her roles as Director of Programs and Head of Customer Experience, to create a more efficient and productive experience with the EV charging infrastructure. Offline chargers offer no recourse to investors. This means that these structures lose value and miss the opportunity to provide investors valuable data that could otherwise be tracked. Terry's work with ChargerHelp! ensures that investments made by organizations, especially utilities providers, can extract intended value from their electric vehicle infrastructure.

Evette Ellis, ChargerHelp!, Co-Founder and Chief Workforce Officer, works to collaborate with local Workforce Centers and use her skills Workforce Development/Outreach to bolster employee infrastructure.  Her work creates partnerships to train and hire from local communities. Her company has implemented practices and training curriculums designed to ensure all applicants have a fair opportunity to join the team, overcoming the skills gap and recruiting quality, underutilized, reliable, high-performing professionals. 

CPS Energy's Customer Engagement Team has spent the last year launching and implementing their Customer Outreach Resource Effort (CORE). The program's goal was to proactively engage with customers using team members from Customer Success, Community Engagement, and Customer Value Optimization to ensure the team reached all segments of customers, including Residential, Small/Medium Business, and Commercial & Industrial. After a full year of outreach, the team has had a sixty-two percent success rate in speaking with customers called as part of the CORE campaign. Of those customers spoken to, ninety percent have signed up for a payment arrangement and/or received agency assistance referrals. Team members have made eighty thousand calls to customers, connecting them with twenty-nine million dollars of assistance or referring them to needed resources and support agencies.

CPS Energy's Supplier Development Team conducted virtual outreach events over the last year to keep the community abreast of contracting opportunities when obstacles to in-person events reduced access to local and diverse vendors in the area. This increase of virtual outreach resulted in a fifty percent surge in new vendor registrations. They also implemented a new Supplier Management System portal, making it easier to submit proposals and pricing with a one-stop, self-serve portal for supplier registration, supplier profile updates, and access to CPS Energy bid opportunities. The team continues to hold monthly virtual community outreach events to share current and upcoming contracting opportunities, also inviting local agencies aligned with the same mission of local investment as special guests each month. The Supplier Development Team includes Sylvia Zamarripa, Manager – Business Management & Analytics; Ross Mitchell, Manager – Supplier Development; and Alyssa Ramos, Coordinator – Supplier Development.

Duke Energy's Enhanced Customer Solutions & Power Quality, Reliability, & Integrity Team designs custom engineered software solutions to improve the flow of timely outage information and the efficiency of restoration operations. In March of 2021, the team delivered the Street & Area Light Repair tool, Duke Energy's first ever customer-facing public cloud application, for reporting and tracking street and area light repair requests. Leveraging cutting-edge technology, the team modernized and improved the customer experience while simultaneously improving operational efficiency in the repair process. Since launch, nearly one hundred five thousand streetlight and area light issues have been reported through the system. The team's members include Adam Anderson, Product Director; Eric Klein, Senior IT Manager; Brad Cone, Lead Product Analyst; Allyson Rosado, Senior Software Engineer; Sam Sayler, Senior Software Engineer; Scott Pham, Software Engineer; Urvesh Patel, Senior Software Engineer; Dinesh Lawrence, Senior Software Engineer; Sally Huang, Senior UX Designer; John Mitropoulos, Sr. Solution Architect; and Srinivas Gaggenapally, Data Architect.

Duke Energy's Supply Chain Team has conceptualized, developed, and launched their OneSource tool in the past year with record speed. The team delivered savings and created a working Minimum Viable Product in three months, releasing OneSource to a pilot group of Maximo sourcing specialists in six months. The team also conducted sixty interviews and listening sessions to collect user input and feedback and later hosted contract upload days, training coaches within each team on Supply Chain and leading a creative gamification effort to inspire activity in the tool. This team includes Joshua Martin, Director – Inventory Management, Tech Support, Process; Carmen Holmes, Director – Supplier Diversity and Sustainability; Ann Orton, Manager – Sourcing; Cameron Houston, Product Analyst; John Potts, Lead IT Software Engineer; and Expo Santana, Senior UX Designer.

Duke Energy's XR Lab, an in-house development team of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality experts, delivered immersive, interactive VR training experiences and fully 3D-modeled training environments that enabled teammates to safely learn and collaborate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Within the last year, these VR programs have been used to train wind technicians to operate substations and natural gas technicians to inspect rights-of-way for leaks, encroachments, and other hazards. This innovation creates a safe space for frontline workers to safely repeat training sessions without any inherent risk until they achieve mastery of a covered task. To date, the technology has been used to train over one hundred natural gas technicians and evaluate twenty-one technicians. The team is currently piloting the capability to turn CAD drawings of a future generation facility into a virtual space that can be toured in VR before construction. The team at the XR Lab includes John Mitchell, Managing Director – Cloud Architecture and Application Transformation; Liz Escobar-Fernandes, IT Manager; John McGuire, XR Lab Technical Lead; Skyler Cai, Scrum Master and IT Software Engineer; Matt Prangley, Senior VR Software Engineer; Josh Painter, VR Software Engineer; John Diasparra, Senior Software Engineer 3D VR Artist/Designer; Alan Hourmand, 3D VR Artist/Designer; Steve Sickles, 3D VR Artist/Designer; Jake Ross, VR Software Engineer; Sarah Wade, 3D VR Artist/Designer; Brandon Brown, 3D VR Artist/Designer; and Naisla Barreto, Product Owner.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) recently investigated whether the implementation of AMPs for systems, structures, and components (SSCs) could be enhanced by a consistent and sustainable framework to optimize inspection, repair, and mitigation activities recommended to manage the potential impacts of aging effects in nuclear power plants. EPRI developed a first-of-its-kind Framework, an integrated approach to applying and leveraging available knowledge of degradation mechanisms and existing risk tools to optimize AMP implementation. In two pilot studies, the EPRI Team guided nuclear industry subject matter experts at Ameren and Exelon to evaluate the effectiveness and limitations of the Framework when applied to nuclear power plant AMP implementation. Each pilot determined the likelihood of degradation and combined it with insights from existing risk tools including Probabilistic Risk Assessment methodology results, to evaluate the consequences of specific SSC failure. Team members on this project include Emma Wong, Team Lead and process co-developer, EPRI, Principal Technical Leader – Innovation; Fernando Ferrante, Framework co-developer and Risk Tools Expert, EPRI, Principal Project Manager – Risk and Safety Maintenance; Andrew Mantey, Aging Management Expert Cable Aging Management, EPRI, Principal Project Manager – Plant Engineering Electrical Team; Pat O'Regan, Risk Informed Tools Expert, EPRI, Technical Executive – Non-Destructive Evaluation Reliability Team; Dylan Cimock, Aging Management Expert Selective Leaching Aging Management, Principal Technical Leader – Plant Engineering Mechanical Team; Jessica Bock, Aging Management Engineer Cable Aging Management, Ameren (Callaway), Engineer – Cable Program; Justin Hiller, PRA Engineer, Ameren (Callaway), Supervisor – Licensing; Barry Thurston, Aging Management Coordinator, Engineer – Exelon; Seth Rios, Fleet Buried Piping and Tanks, Selective Leaching Subject Matter Expert, Senior Engineer – Exelon; Deven Strabala, Limerick Buried Piping and Tanks, Selective Leaching AMP Owner, Engineer; and Nina Lacome, Fleet Risk Management Engineer, Exelon.

Brandon Fitchett and Rajasekhar Pulikollu, EPRI, Generation Research & Development, led implementation of innovative wind farm performance efficiency tracking techniques at utilities representing over ten gigawatts of wind energy and identifying opportunities for increased efficiency of wind turbines, increasing cost effectiveness and reliability of wind assets. Working on collaborative R&D with over eight utilities to support their individual application, they implemented a performance monitoring solution with readily available wind turbine data that can reveal underperformance, guide condition-based maintenance to improve performance, and reduce operational costs.

Lea Boche, EPRI, Technical Leader – Generation Sector (Artificial Intelligence initiative), led development, testing, and work with key industry stakeholders to provide tag data for testing the "Tag Whisperer" tool, a software tool that facilitates the process of unifying tag names by using machine learning techniques to filter and standardize OSI-Pi tag naming. The tool eases the search for data points and equipment across a unit or fleet, contributes to an understanding of how plant assets are operating, and improves modeling capabilities at a fleet level.

Michael Bolen, EPRI, Program Manager, has worked to improve safety and understanding of DC arc-flash hazards by inducing arc flashes at three commercially operating photovoltaic power plants and measuring associated hazards. Each of three field tests, performed in 2017, 2019, and 2021, required about one year of preparation and coordination amongst multiple organizations, including utility site hosts, national laboratories, academia, standards development bodies, engineering firms, first responders, and more. The tests found that most existing incident energy calculations are overly conservative. Lower levels of PPE can sufficiently protect field workers from an arc flash, increase their productivity, and increase safety through avoiding heat stress.

Jason Hollern, Program Manager, and Jeremy Lawrence, Principal Technical Leader, for the Cyber Security for Generation Assets research program at EPRI in the Generation Sector, developed hardware-based secure interactive remote access product using innovative principles to provide access by a remote user to an operational technology environment. Both Hollern and Lawrence identified security gaps in current systems and tools and equipment in the marketplace providing partial solutions. Working with technology providers to develop a lab-scale demonstration of new technology products based on the use-cases and requirements, they developed a pre-production proof-of-concept to install in the EPRI labs as a working demonstration to utility stakeholders.

Nils Johnson, Principal Technical Leader Modeler with EPRI's Energy Systems and Climate Analysis group, is a leading expert on energy economy modeling and the technoeconomics of emerging technologies. His research activities include development of cutting-edge analytical tools to explore the potential for end-use electrification, assess the economics of renewables, energy storage, and other low-carbon technologies, and understand pathways to deep decarbonization. The tools developed as part of Johnson's analyses have been incorporated into EPRI's REGEN model and are being used as part of ongoing research with other utilities. Johnson is currently working on a new model to explore the economics of decarbonizing industrial sectors, including both electrification and other mitigation opportunities using low-carbon fuels, and is also leading a study to understand the potential role of long-duration energy storage.

Tapasvi Lolla, EPRI, Senior Technical Leader – Generation Sector Materials & Repair Program, has led the development, standardization, and execution of procedures in the metallurgical laboratories. His work has improved efficiency, preparation procedures, overall understanding of primary damage mechanisms, unique methodologies to enhance obtained datasets, and next-generation training. Additionally, his efforts have directly led to a clearer understanding of active damage mechanisms in failure investigations, a better appreciation for the contributing factors to failures and the identification of previously not-well-understood details which continue to deconvolute the complexity in flexible plant operation.

Prayag Parikh, Technical Leader in the Generation Sector at EPRI for the Monitoring and Advanced Data Analytics Research Program, is sector lead for the development of the Continuous Online Monitoring (COLM) Guidebook and the associated COLM Equipment Guides. Parikh collaborates with the Nuclear Research Sector to develop and revise these guidelines, providing utilities with a playbook for improving data analysis through process upgrades and equipment installation. He has led the effort to publish an eight-volume guidebook, the COLM equipment guide development process, and either led or supported the development of over twenty-five equipment guides.

Eric Bauman, Principal Technical Leader at EPRI in the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) program, has worked in the utility industry for forty-two years and has a long-standing passion for worker safety. He spearheaded numerous projects focused on safety improvements at utility companies, including safety of Augmented Reality technologies, quantifying safety management practices impacts on injury rates, heat stress, fatigue managements, ergonomics, identifying SIF precursors using Artificial Intelligence, and driving safety. He has developed the R&D work with a network of collaborators to execute research and apply and disseminate results.

Ralph King, Program Manager – Cyber Security Insider Threat Management Project at EPRI, monitors cyber threats exposure risks to systems and infrastructure that support power delivery. Over the past year, he collaborated with seven EPRI utility members (Alliant Energy, Con Edison, Cooperative Energy, FirstEnergy, New York Power Authority, Southern Company, and Xcel Energy) to create new resources to provide defacto standards for electric power utilities to manage and understand insider threat risks. Through the collaborative model employed for this EPRI project, the seven utilities have received the Insider Threat Management Guidebook and Risk Personas for ten to fifteen percent of the cost of executing this project on their own. 

Franklin Energy's Innovation Lab Team, led by Danielle Marquis, Vice President of Product Management, has spent the last year ideating virtual solutions with and for utilities. The Team has developed prototypes and conducted user testing to refine these prototypes into full-scale products, launching two new virtual products in Fall 2020 and Winter 2021. These products, a multi-path energy audit participation module and a personalized kit module, are in start-up or implementation with nine utility clients. Both were designed to improve customer service and user experience, while shifting traditional program designs to virtual formats that could be safely implemented during the pandemic and beyond.

Hitachi ABB Power Grids North America's Fabio Luiz, Service Manager – High Voltage Products; Renato Milanese, Product Manager – High Voltage Service; and Kenneth Bryar, Digital Specialist – High Voltage Service manage the Collaboration Center (CoCe), based at the High Voltage Product Service Center in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, supporting remote services for high voltage products. The CoCe is a centralized, multi-media control room equipped with video conference equipment, augmented reality devices, secure connections and redundancy, and multiple displays to seamlessly connect service specialists with the company's library of resources. Through this set up, the team offers the same capabilities and expertise customers expect from onsite service, remotely and in real-time. Their work with the CoCe proves how technology facilitates remote services effectively and efficiently.

Reynaldo Nuqui, Senior Principal Scientist, Hitachi ABB Power Grids, recently introduced an innovation that provides an additional layer of defense for Flexible Alternating Current Transmission System (FACTS) assets against incorrect command resulting from human error or potential cyber-attack. While probability of such incidents is low, extreme scenarios can result in grid oscillations, or even destabilization. The innovation is currently in a proof-of-concept stage but results of experiments and simulations suggest it could significantly improve the security of FACTS stations interacting with wide area controllers and other utility systems. Members of Nuqui's team include Abhiroop Chattopadhyay, PhD Student – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Alfonso Valdes, Principal Research Scientist – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Peter Sauer, Professor – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

LineVision's founding team of Hudson Gilmer, CEO; Nathan Pinney, Chief Scientist; and Jonathan Marmillo, Vice President of Product provide electric utilities with the real-time monitoring and predictive analytics needed to secure the future of the grid. Their platform is rapidly deployed at scale without the need for scheduled outages, live line work, or specialized installation equipment, helping utility partners lead the energy transition with enhanced grid flexibility, resilience, and security. The company recently developed a solution addressing the need for utilities to have ultimate visibility into what's happening on their transmission lines. With the data and analytics created by LineVision's patented non-contact sensor systems, utilities can increase the integration and utilization of renewable energy resources to unlock additional capacity on existing lines, provide insight into conductor health, and detect anomalies and risks. 

Derek Vadala, Moody's Investors Service, Chief Executive Officer of VisibleRisk, helped form VisibleRisk, a joint venture between Moody's and Team8, to develop a next-gen cyber risk quantification platform for assessing and managing enterprise-wide cyber risk. This first-of-its-kind cyber risk quantification methodology automates the collection and analysis of a wide range of data and translates it into financial terms with the first ever cyber resilience rating. The system's methodology is automated and transparent and can be applied across all types of organizations. Using a tools-based approach to collect and analyze a variety of internal and external data types, Vadala's platform provides a validated and high-fidelity illustration of risk, while reducing workload.

The Maryland Public Service Commission Transportation Division recently designed, developed, and implemented a new Transportation Network Company (TNC) regulatory process. The team established operating rules and regulations for, designed, and implemented this electronic licensing process for more than four hundred thousand vehicles and drivers. The streamlined TNC electronic licensing process also allowed the PSC to assume regulatory authority over a burgeoning segment of Maryland's for-hire transportation industry, increasing its number of regulated entities by a factor of more than ten. The team worked collaboratively with TNCs and the PSC's IT Staff to develop a process that is efficient, transparent, and responsive to consumer and industry demands. 

Joshua Wong, Opus One Solutions, CEO, founded his company to create an enterprise software platform, GridOS, now the industry's leading Distributed Energy Management Platform. GridOS enables utilities to transform their physical grid into a digital, controllable, and economic platform for distributed energy resources. This platform approach alleviates not only technical constraints, but also constraints around economic signals and regulatory structures associated with incentivizing DER adoption. GridOS is recognized as a critical enabling solution for a one hundred percent decarbonized energy system and has been independently assessed to attain a cumulative emissions reduction potential of over thirty thousand million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) by 2041.

Horst Lehmann, PPL Electric Utilities, Senior Engineer in Transmission Planning, is responsible for recognizing that Dynamic Line Rating (DLR) technology could be used in a new way to address line congestion issues on transmission lines. When it came time to test DLR on PPL's lines, Horst led the engineering and field installation of the sensors. After, he performed continuous analysis on the system and coordinated an analysis solution for PJM to integrate the DLR system data into PJM's future-looking market efficiency analysis. Horst's contributions helped PPL become the first company to successfully use DLR to address congestion and market efficiency issues.

Eric Rosenberger, PPL Electric Utilities, Senior Engineer in T&S Asset Management, researched and identified the best vendor with which to partner for Dynamic Line Rating (DLR) technology. He also developed engineering standards for implementing the sensors onto PPL's system. Since installation, Rosenberger has led an IT project team implementing the technology into operations and assisted in determining a complete system architecture compliant with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) standards. Partnering with Reliability First and internal IT experts, Rosenberger and his team were able to develop an on-premise system design that would be a secure, reliable, and compliant solution.

San Diego Gas & Electric's Gavin Worden, Director – Cloud & Infrastructure; Jonathan Woldemariam, Engineer; Ted Reguly, Director – Portfolio and Project Management; and Nick Moran, Director – Electrical Engineering are working to build a communications network that will enable forward looking initiatives. In preparation for the onslaught of connected devices that will increase the efficiency and resiliency of the grid, they've pursued both nine hundred megahertz and Citizens Broadband Radio Service for wireless spectrum, ensuring that evolving needs and opportunities are met. Their current focus is on a Falling Conductor Protection system, which relies on low-latency communications to detect the status of a line and de-energize it before it hits the ground, and private LTE with the various spectrum the team has secured that will enable actions in the future.

The Southern California Gas Research, Development, and Demonstration Program Team develops and demonstrates products and technologies that promote decarbonization across the natural gas value chain and a diversified portfolio of clean energy sources, distributed networks, tools, and applications. In the last year, SoCalGas RD&D had three hundred eighty-six active and one hundred six completed projects and initiated one hundred four additional projects. Some key innovations the team has worked on are a biomethanation reactor project in collaboration with National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Electrochea, a technology created in collaboration with SunLine Transit to produce hydrogen from renewable natural gas for fuel cell vehicles at prices competitive with gasoline, and another technology, developed in collaboration with HyET Hydrogen, that simultaneously separates and compresses hydrogen from a blend of hydrogen and natural gas and can be easily and affordably transported via the natural gas pipeline system.

Lindsay Jenkins, Urbint, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Technical Operations, spearheaded the ideation, development, and launch of Urbint Lens for Worker Safety, a first-of-its-kind AI-powered worker safety technology that identifies safety threats to workers in the field and enables supervisors to immediately take action.  The tool takes what was once a manual process of recording and analyzing spreadsheets, to highly targeted, risk analysis using machine learning that factors in crew history, schedules, worksite and environmental conditions, and more.  Since the solution was announced in 2020, Jenkins has played a pivotal role in introducing it to the market, now working together with the first utilities to deploy the solution, to calibrate it to their needs.

Xcel Energy's Electric Transportation Team, led by Nadia El Mallakh, Area Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Ventures, works to address customer barriers to Electric Vehicle adoption and build out EV infrastructure.  Over the last year, the team has worked to approve and implement their industry-leading Colorado Transportation Electrification Plan. Approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in early 2021 and aligned with Colorado's goal of putting nine hundred forty thousand EVs on the roads by 2030, the three-year, one-hundred-ten-million-dollar plan includes installing about twenty thousand EV charging plugs in homes, buildings, and public spaces throughout the state. The plan also informs customers about cost savings and environmental benefits of buying/leasing EVs via educational and advisory services and lowers upfront costs of EV chargers, infrastructure upgrades, and purchasing EVs for income-qualified customers through rebates, make ready programs, and the like. The team's leadership includes Deb Erwin, Director – Policy and Program Planning; Jean Baptiste Jouve, Director – Strategic Partnerships and Ventures; Huma Seth, Director – Fleet Solutions and Commercial & Advisory Services; and Alisa Sobczak, Director – Residential Management & Advisory Services.


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