History with a Twist

We have a lot of history together, Marty and I. He is a moderate who leans left. I am a moderate who leans right. In an interview, he, as a journalist, tends to lean in and ask the hard questions. Not me. As an engineer, I tend to focus closely on what is being said and have a tendency to throw in my own thoughts. Marty leans toward interviewing CEOs, CFOs and CIOs, regulators and policymakers. I am more into talking with the technical people who design, engineer, construct and operate the networks.

Despite our differences, we are both passionate about serving the utility and energy industry, and in providing the information and perspectives that our many talented energy professionals desire to prepare us for a vibrant and dynamic future.

Over the years, we have come to rely on one another, and now even more as we see external forces impacting grid investment decisions. We simply must understand how business, legislative, regulatory and customer decisions will impact our delivery business. At the same time, we need to know how technology works so that we can build out innovative solutions at a price point that won’t break the bank.

Now we have the power of two. I have spent my career as the ultimate insider, having lived my professional life from within the protective walls of the T&D enterprise. I have historically seen the T&D system as the mechanism to transport electrons from the generator to the consumer.

Marty is the ultimate outsider, seeing the world as a much more complex ecosystem with only a basic understanding of how the T&D system actually functions. As a former business writer for the Kansas City Star, he knows how to get at the root of an energy issue and to get it online or in print. And he covers so much ground so rapidly. He and I run with a different set of acronyms. Marty keeps up with NERC, FERC, NARUC, EEI, APPA, NRECA and BOMA. I focus on engineering detail. Associations I hold dear are IEEE, EPRI, CIGRE and CIRED. I also track progress in technical standards writing organizations including IEC, ASTM, NACE and ASCE.

Marty, welcome home.

I have the great pleasure to announce that Marty Rosenberg is joining me (or, more accurately, rejoining me) here at our parent company Penton. Marty comes from Energy Central, where he recently served as editor in chief of its flagship magazine EnergyBiz. I am so glad to have you home.

You see, before his stint at EnergyBiz, Marty had an office next to mine when he was editor in chief of our sister publication Utility Business.

Why is Marty coming home? Simply put, our industry is becoming more complex with many cross-currents that can be quite difficult to fathom. It is hard to stay in front of an industry that is going in so many directions at once. And we are seeing a shift in the mind-set of electric utilities. As we all know, utility companies have always wanted to be in control, but they are now coming to the conclusion that this era is over.

Now the best we can accomplish is to influence outcomes. Consider the recent FERC Order 1000, which has taken the right of first refusal to build new transmission away from incumbent transmission owners and opened up the bidding of major transmission high-voltage transmission projects to all comers as requested and specified by independent system operators. Over on the distribution side, New York regulators are considering making a major shift in the regulatory paradigm by pushing the idea of having a distribution system operator to control dispatch just as the NYISO now does over the transmission network in that state.

So, what will you see from Marty in the coming months?

Marty is charged with populating our business site within T&D World and is also ramping up to put out an online report, The Energy Times. He also will be working with me to craft events, webinars and the like that span the technical and business realms. After all, we are unlikely to invest in our grid unless we know why we should invest and how we will get compensated. Similarly, we will be working with other Penton properties active in the energy space, including Industry Week, American City & County and Lodging Hospitality, among others.

Marty and I just got back from DistribuTECH, which highlights the business and technical aspects of automation in T&D. We met together with the likes of Rodger Smith with Oracle and Todd Gurela with Cisco. We also met independently with executives of global players in the core energy space including ABB, Siemens, GE and Alstom. We found a consensus among those we spoke with that if our industry is to remain relevant, we must move quickly to meet the future.

Just a few of the issues discussed include the need for a robust communications infrastructure, two-way flexible power delivery systems, vendors to partner to deliver best-of-breed solutions, the emergence of smart cities, customer-driven energy management solutions and the emergence of distributed generation solutions, to name a few.

Now we can leverage the power of two as we move forward to meet an increasingly complex and exciting energy future. Marty, welcome home.

 

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