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ESMO 2019: Q&A With Michael Best of Pacific Gas & Electric

Jan. 2, 2019
ESMO is offering a session on avian and wildlife protection and reliability at its 2019 conference.

2019 is here, which means the ESMO conference is only about six months away. Mark your calendar's for IEEE's 14th annual conference on transmission and distribution construction, operation and live line maintenance, which will take place from June 24-27 in Columbus, Ohio. Michael Best of Pacific Gas & Electric is one of the speakers for a panel discussion on avian protection plans and how they can improve reliability and environmental stewardship.

Q: Talk about your education and background.  

A: I earned my bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from Sacramento State University.  I served as the previous chair of Avian Powerline Interaction Committee (APLIC) from 2014-2016 and have been the program manager for PG&E’s Avian Protection Plan (APP) since 2004. 

Q: How did you get interested in a career in the energy industry? 

A: My career in the energy industry just fell into my lap.  Out of college, my first job was with ACRT, a contract forestry organization, which contracted with PG&E.  My degree was the only real qualification which they wanted.  At the time no other employees had degrees.  After a few years, a position with PG&E opened up, and I hired on as a vegetation management QA inspector.  I was in that position for a year and then promoted to a forester.  After a year, I went on rotation as a vegetation program manager in Oakland, California, before applying for my current position as the avian protection program manager.

Q: What are your favorite and most challenging parts of your job right now? 

A: The favorite part of my job is figuring out different problems.  Birds are excellent at pointing out design flaws in the electric system.  The most challenging part of my job is ensuring everyone follows our company standards. 

Q: What is the working title for your session? 

A: Avian and Wildlife Protection and Reliability.  Attendees can expect to learn more about APLIC and the Suggested Practices, how these retrofits can improve reliability, Avian Protection Plans and work completed for whooping cranes in the Central Flyway. 

 Q: Who are the panelists, and what criteria are you using to select them?  

I will be presenting along with Amy Ruszala, Advanced Scientist with First Energy; and Eric Johnson with Kansas City Power & Light and Westar Energy Companies.  

Q: Why is this topic important to the industry? 

A: Nearly all birds are protected by federal or state regulations. An Avian Protection Plan can help utilities improve reliability while also protect migratory birds and also threatened or endangered birds. 

 Q: What will be different or special about your session? 

A: It will be an in-depth discussion of Avian Protection Plan and the benefits to utilities implementing these plans. 

Q: Who do you think would most benefit from your session at ESMO?   

A: Compliance leaders, reliability engineers, managers and environmental leaders.

Q: What’s the most important thing the attendees can expect to hear during your session at ESMO?  

A: How Avian Protection Plans improve reliability and environmental stewardship. 

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