T&D World Magazine

We Are Family

I’ve known Lisa Nelson for a good 20 years. She’s more than an acquaintance or a friend. Lisa runs EDM’s International Conference on Overhead Lines, held every other year in Ft. Collins, Colorado. I think she puts me on the docket just for shock value, and I don’t like to disappoint. Lisa calls me her brother from another mother, and I introduce her as my sister from another mister. We get each other. We are family.

When my wife, Alice, and I went on a vacation to the Rocky Mountain National Park last year, we made a side trip to Fort Collins to visit Lisa and have a few brews with her, her mom and her dad. Talk about a pack of Bronco fans. I am also close to Lisa’s husband, Rob, and their two grown children. The Nelsons and Bushes are now an extended family.
Lisa’s sidekick Sam Jack once called on me to distract Lisa over the phone while the EDM team set up tables and chairs to celebrate Lisa’s 50th birthday. I got to join in on the celebration via Skype, but I didn’t get any cake.

When you have wandered around the power business for a few decades, you realize this industry isn’t as big as it seems at first. Just track down the people who are pushing for change, and you will find a select group of people with the passion and the skills to drive the industry.

A lot of technologists reside in this group, and they are making more of a difference than ever. Today, a confluence of evermore sophisticated software and electronics, increasing communications bandwidth, combined with significant price reductions in wind, solar, natural gas and storage are pushing us into new energy frontiers.
We don’t have to be prune-faced stick-in-the-muds to make a difference. My buddies who push this industry forward have marvelous quirks that they don’t bother to hide. In fact, their quirks are what define them.

I always had a fascination with Power Technologies Inc. led by Lionel Barthold. Over the years, PTI (now Siemens) managed to gather a collection of incredibly talented individuals, legends really. I was so impressed with them I even offered to work at PTI, but the people who ran the company knew me a little too well to hire me.

When I was at Georgia Power, we collaborated with PTI principals Dale Douglass, Jay Williams and Torben Aabo to teach overhead and underground courses in our laboratories outside Atlanta, Georgia. That was a blast.

I was also involved in many EPRI projects. Perhaps the most impactful work occurred when Vito Longo, then with EPRI, managed the project to develop dynamic capacity models for overhead lines. Dale, along with my thesis advisor, Bill Black, and I worked on this project together. We traveled in a pack back then, and the four of us planned a fishing trip every year to coincide with the IEEE summer meeting. Each trip developed its own persona, but maybe the Deschutes fly fishing trip was the most memorable. On that trip, Vito picked up the moniker “River Rhino,” a term that was meant to be appropriate but not necessarily complimentary.

As I ping through the industry, I continue to develop new relationships while maintaining old ones. I have always kept up with the folks who work at our premium consulting firms: Jim Lusby and John Rector are buddies from Black & Veatch; Mike Beehler and Vern Mulkey are two class acts over at Burns & McDonnell; and Peter Catchpole and Bill Hansen are my friends who hail from POWER Engineers.

Now that our kids are grown and Alice travels with me, she sometimes strikes up relationships. Alice was on a CIGRE-sponsored companion tour of the Loire Valley when she met Brenda Boston. Brenda is married to Terry Boston who was running PJM at the time. Alice and Brenda connected Terry and me at the U.S. National Committee reception, and the four of us have been friends ever since. In fact, on our last trip to Philadelphia, Alice and I stayed at the Bostons’ home and then we went on a day trip to the Jersey Shore.

Of course, there is no way to list all the people in industry who have impacted me personally. But thanks to all of you for the difference you’ve made and the times we’ve shared.

The T&D World editorial team is just as close. Take Gene and Pam Wolf. Pam proofreads Gene’s special supplements. And for the past 10 years, Vito has been with us soliciting technical articles from North America. Maybe you’ve met Gerry George, our international editor. Gerry and his wife, Pat, work the booths together when we exhibit at CIGRE and CIRED. And David Shadle, Tom Cohenno and Peter Manos recently joined the T&D World family. Welcome to the team, guys.

A team is held together by the mission they share and the passion they bring, whether working on IEEE standards or performing research, whether designing and building lines and substations or operating and maintaining them. It is an honor for us at T&D World to share not only the technical advances that move us forward as an industry, but also to introduce you to the individuals who invest their professional careers in making such a tremendous difference in energy delivery.

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