EPRI Board: Lisa Barton


Second Vice Chair

Fortnightly Magazine - June 2022

Stan Connally is executive vice president of operations at Southern Company and chair, president and CEO of Southern Company Services. Maria Pope is president and CEO of Portland General Electric. Lisa Barton is executive vice president and COO of American Electric Power. Matthew Ketschke is president of Con Edison of New York. And Brian Savoy is executive vice president and chief strategy and commercial officer for Duke Energy.

Connally, Pope, Barton, Ketschke, and Savoy are evidently very busy individuals. Their day jobs are some of the most important within the country's electric utilities industry. Yet they are pitching in to help lead the world's premier electric research institution. Indeed, they have just been elected to its highest leadership positions.

So, the Public Utilities Fortnightly team asked them, why? What is motivating them to devote the time and energy necessary to play a big role in setting the course at EPRI? What they told us follows.

PUF: What does it mean to you to be involved in EPRI's governance?

Lisa Barton: I am honored to be a part of EPRI's governance and helping EPRI continue its mission of driving the necessary research and engagement to continue redefining the future of energy. From the day electricity was first generated at Pearl Street station in New York City in 1882, the grid has been evolving. 

Today, that evolution continues and by all accounts is accelerating. Through EPRI's leadership and engagement, the electric industry is identifying how we can bring solutions to the table that offer a successful path forward to support a clean-energy economy, while also ensuring we meet the energy security, reliability, and resiliency expectations of our customers and communities. Through EPRI, a diverse set of voices and backgrounds come together to discuss the "art of the possible."

We challenge ourselves to think about the future expectations that will drive our industry and help us prepare for the future of energy. Answering this question and charting a successful path forward is something that requires a collective focus by a diverse set of thought leaders.

PUF: How does your participation help your companies serve the customer?

Lisa Barton: As a utility, our role is clear — to power the ambitions of our customers and position our communities for success. We recognize the world's and customers' expectations are changing, and we play a significant role in this evolution. We need to have an open mind about the technologies that will enable them to participate and be prepared to succeed in the clean-energy economy. Empowering them to be successful now and into the future, by assuring energy is affordable, reliable, and the systems serving them are resilient is an essential part of the energy transformation. 

Participation in EPRI gives us a window into the future. It helps us to identify future solutions and vulnerabilities, while also providing a forum to engage in the necessary dialogues to help us lean in and create the solutions our customers expect. 

EPRI offers the ability for members to learn together, share perspectives, pool necessary research and development efforts to secure synergies and economies of scale, and accelerate learning. Active participation in demonstration projects among member companies facilitates learning and creates the opportunity to commercialize technologies faster than they otherwise would. Meaningful, timely, and successful change happens when we are sharing lessons and collaborating amongst diverse stakeholders. 

Our challenges are becoming global in scale, and our timetable for developing and identifying solutions is shortening. Finding the energy solutions to meet the needs of our customers and communities is job number one, and our participation in EPRI ensures we can bring those solutions to market sooner than we could on our own.

PUF: How do you expect, through this participation, to contribute to EPRI's growing impact on our energy future?

Lisa Barton: The future is electric! Electricity will power our vehicles, our economy, our comforts and our aspirations. Today, not only are the expectations on the grid greater, but also customers are setting expectations on the resources used to generate their power. Achieving net zero by 2050 is a commitment we take seriously, and we understand the time it takes to transform an industry, which is why we are focusing on that future today.

We are looking deep into the future to understand the technologies that can be part of the energy solution set, understanding customer preferences, the impact of climate change and the electrification needs on energy delivery system architecture itself. Redefining and refining what is the future of energy is neither simple nor a task that has a natural conclusion, rather it's part of an ongoing journey. Supporting the needs of an evolving, more electric-intensive society is complicated.

We need to ensure the transition is smooth and affordable, while also meeting the clean energy, reliability, and resiliency needs of customers. We need to be the purveyor of these solutions. Having our talented team of technical experts involved as thought leaders in this space and engaging with other experts is essential so we can bring the best solutions forward. Having an informed view of the future starts with high quality and highly engaging discussions. This is where EPRI excels and is how collectively we will navigate a successful path in support of the clean-energy transformation!


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