Risk management, safety, and benchmarking were just a few of the issues examined by electric utility industry leaders during the EUCG Fall Conference & Workshop last month in New Orleans, Louisiana.
EUCG, a global association of energy and electric utility professionals, meets semiannually to discuss current and emerging industry issues, share best practices and exchange data for benchmarking purposes.
The Workshop’s opening remarks were provided by outgoing EUCG President George Sharp of American Electric Power. Sharp introduced the EUCG board of directors to the audience and congratulated his successor, Stephanie Maggard of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, on her election as EUCG Board President. He also announced the formation of a new Solar Committee within EUCG. The keynote address was given by Tom Hagan, a retired executive with American Electric Power. Hagan focused on the role of leadership and the skills required to lead effectively and drive business performance.
EUCG Committees held Forums to discuss current events and the future of the utility industry. Committee highlights are as follows:
- Nuclear Committee: The Nuclear forum, led by Nuclear Chair, David Ward of Duke Energy, focused on many areas, including economic dispatch and flexible mode of operations for plants, and nuclear plant decommissioning and the affiliated issues. An update was provided regarding the work on the ‘Nuclear Promise’ Program which was launched by the U.S. nuclear energy industry in order to boost efficiency, safety and economic viability of the nuclear power plants. The forum also included an analysis on nuclear plant closures which provided insight into the market forces threatening premature closures of nuclear plants and how to ensure their continued viability. Attendees engaged in a discussion identifying specific issues and concerns specific to companies which was rated with high marks in regards to benefiting their company. David Ward noted there were, “a lot of synergies across multiple presentations from different providers that led to a common discussion thread regarding nuclear industry business topics.”
- Fossil Committee: The Fossil forum, led by outgoing Fossil Chair Ed Taylor of Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, held panels focused on addressing safety improvement, unit operation in a changing environment, combined cycle unit cycling costs and leadership development strategies. Panel attendees found the forum topics were, “on point with today’s market” and they provided important insight on, “where the industry may be heading.” Steve Royall of Pacific Gas and Electric Company was elected as the new Fossil Committee Chair.
- Hydroelectric Committee: Hydroelectric Committee Chairman, Chris Utracki of Ontario Power Generation began the workshop with a warm welcome and round table introductions, then discussed the most recent accomplishments of the committee and the direction in which it is going. As is normally the case at the Fall Workshop, the last 3 years of cost and performance results and trends were reviewed. Following the review, managers from Tennessee Valley Authority, Hydro Québec and Ontario Power Generation discussed key success factors for their top performing plants. On behalf of the Oak Ridge National Laboratories, program manager Brennan Smith received a plaque recognizing ORNL contributions to advancing analytical methods and solving Hydropower challenges.
- Transmission and Distribution (T&D) Committee: Outgoing Chairman, Jesse Medlock of Oncor Electric Delivery, who was elected EUCG Vice President, led a successful meeting focused on sharing best practices and data. Trish Villa, CPS Energy and David Miller, Duke Energy, discussed “Energy Isolation” as a critical area of personnel safety and an effective program which promotes confidence and assurance to individuals performing their work. Eileen Brannon who is taking over as the new T&D Chair, also of Oncor Electric Delivery, presented a leadership development program which the company is utilizing. The T&D forum also highlighted safety, asset management, business planning, best practices, and technical topics related to regional reliability.
- Technology Solutions Committee: The Technology Solutions committee, led by Jacque Fuller of Energy Northwest, spent time reviewing the current environment and changes in strategy for each of the participating IT organizations. Discussions focused on the types of changes that may be necessary in order to ensure benchmarking data stays in alignment with what is important to the stakeholders.
The Conference, held at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, began on September 18 and concluded on September 21. The Conference attracted well over 100 electric utility professionals from various utility technologies from all over the world. “We had an outstanding workshop with educational and networking opportunities that were second to none. Our attendees will take very valuable information and industry contacts back to their places of work,” remarked EUCG’s incoming President, Stephanie Maggard of PG&E.
The next EUCG Conference will be held in Charleston, SC on April 2-5, 2017 at the Marriott Charleston. For more information, please visit the EUCG website, www.eucg.org.