The Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utility Commissioners is full-speed ahead with its annual event in June, albeit virtually. And the registration list is crazily growing.
So the PUF team asked MACRUC’s president, West Virginia PSC Commissioner Brooks McCabe, about this special opportunity for the utility regulation community to get social while we’re all socially-distanced.
Commissioner Brooks McCabe: We have a very diverse and skilled set of Commissioners that have been really looking forward to making this an exceptional educational conference. We got a little caught off guard with the pandemic, but started saying, “we don't want to back off of this. We have good ideas, good speakers, good participation.”
And the thought that we had was, can we figure it out how to do it virtually in a way that is not only educational, but fun and exciting? And make it a participatory process.
For a lot of us, this virtual meeting is a new concept. So, we're all kind of learning as we go. And we’re really pleased at the response. The Commissioners to a person are enthusiastic about doing this.
The other regional organizations [of NARUC] were challenged and decided to delay. Our board and officers — we meet monthly by phone with all the Commissioners — and everybody wanted to participate.
PUF: You set up a Commissioner roundtable a week ahead, on June 15th. Then you've got your sessions in the mornings on June 20th, 21st and 22nd. It's an amazing lineup of speakers and discussions that you have set up.
Commissioner McCabe: We were very fortunate to get Chairman Chatterjee to agree to participate. He's very interested in doing so. Of course, FERC has just an amazing agenda in front of it right now. So, there's multiple areas that our Commissioners are interested in.
We also have Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia, who is a ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee. Much of what we as Commissioners deal with falls right within that committee.
He absolutely understands the importance of MACRUC. He knows who we are. He knows what we do. And given what his committee is dealing with, we're kind of the boots on the ground in many ways.
We're the ones that have to deal with these issues, work through the implementation, interact with FERC. He understands all of that. So he is a perfect Senator to do this.
Every conference, we try to have at least one program on ethics. And this time, we're looking at the role of utility regulators and bankruptcy. We have a retired bankruptcy judge. And we have the chair of the Board of Directors from PG&E, Nora Brownell.
PUF: You've got your session on the FERC MOPR. It's a good idea that it's virtual, because if it was actually a regular physical meeting, it might break out into fisticuffs.
Commissioner McCabe: We've got Judy Jagdmann of Virginia. She's perfect as a moderator. And two commission chairs, one from New Jersey and one from Maryland, and the Vice President of PJM, and EPSA. It will be an exciting panel. Then, also on Wednesday, we've got the Wall Street perspective.
And at the same time, we're saying, "now, remember everybody, this is our first time out of the gate. So it may not be flawless." But we are learning as we go, and are as excited about it as we can be.
PUF: And you've already got a really great turnout in the registration. We're all at home, and crawling the walls. We're looking for you to pull us out.
Commissioner McCabe: We're trying to fill up each morning. We consciously made the decision to keep it relatively short, from 9:30 to noon, so everyone can still do the business in the rest of the day. We're not taking big chunks out that are kind of hard to manage, particularly when you're working at home.
I think we really will have a strong participation of not only Commissioners, but Staff and industry folks. And then we need your help. Public Utilities Fortnightly is the place to go for figuring out where the action is. So I think that is helpful in its own right, very helpful.
Well, what are you waiting for? Go to macruc.org and get yourself registered!
As a friend of NARUC says, the conference cannot take place this June at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, because of the coronavirus. But you can “go” to the conference while at home instead.