Eversource Energy is a major electric distribution utility serving the New England region, which puts it in the line of fire for everything from Nor’easter snowstorms to Atlantic hurricanes and, certainly this year, heat waves.
The company also is facing the energy transformational challenges of incorporating intermittent generation such as renewables and figuring out ways to incorporate energy storage and microgrids into the mix while maintaining resiliency. Positive ESG is great, but staying positive with the customer requires keeping the lights on and room comfortable, first and foremost.
T&D World caught up with three Eversource leaders to discuss the energy transition as it affects utility performance but also the future workforce. Participating in the discussion were Umair Zia, director of distribution engineering at Eversource; Helen Galluzzo, senior consult for leadership development; and Dan Lewis, principal engineer for electric distribution with the utility.
All three are participating in a panel at the first-ever T&D World Conference and Exhibition happening Oct. 5-7 at the Downtown Sheraton in Charlotte. The session featuring Zia, Galluzzo and Lewis is focused on “Future Utility Engineers” and will be 9 a.m. ET Friday, Oct. 7.
T&D World Conference and Exhibition will feature speakers from other utilities including host Duke Energy, National Grid, Exelon, Entergy, Oncor Electric Delivery, Florida Power & Light, ComEd, Pacific Gas & Electric, Ameren Transmission, Georgia Power, Salt River Project and more.
Speakers from regulators, grid operators and industry leadership include PJM Interconnection, WIRES, WATTS Coalition, Edison Electric Institute, IEEE and Electric Power Research Institute, among others.
Utility attendees are welcome and a Utility Unlimited registration discount is available.
Here’s more of the T&D World chat with industry experts at Eversource Energy.
T&D World: What are the top challenges/issues the electric distribution industry faces?
UMAIR ZIA: “The electric distribution industry is going through transformational changes include ranging from the integration of distributed energy resources and development of power quality solutions to workforce talent retention and growth.”
T&D World: What are the greatest opportunities you see for the electric utility industry moving forward?
ZIA: “The challenges mentioned above are also providing great opportunities for the utility industry. The high-level penetration of distributed energy resources provides a unique opportunity to enhance system resiliency, and to manage load with precision at the local level. New engineers have a tremendous opportunity to come up with new and innovative methods to create the electric system of the future.”T&D World: What promising technologies will help distribution companies meet their challenges and better manage their assets?
ZIA: “Improved storage and the ability to control it with precision will allow the electric distribution system of the future to run in an optimized fashion.”
T&D World: When it comes to recruiting and training engineers, how are concepts needing to be adjusted to reach and educate newer generations of students?
HELEN GALLUZO: “There’s a need to identify effective ways to introduce STEM careers to students as early as possible; to create excitement over the benefits of a STEM career and demonstrate the impact being a problem-solver can have on our communities, the environment and how we live. Additionally, expanding recruiting partnerships within education and community-based organizations should be part of the strategy to continue reaching future generations of engineers.”
DAN LEWIS: “By broadening our candidate profile, we have seen an increase in diversity of experience, perspective and skills. Still, some electrical engineers may not come out of school with a strong background in power systems engineering, so our technical training curriculum is designed to fill that knowledge gap with a foundational knowledge in utility engineering.
“Other engineering degrees such as Civil and Mechanical Engineering have been successful within our organization, and our curriculum has been adjusted to put non-electrical engineering participants on a more equal footing with their electrical engineering peers.”
T&D World: In looking at the Eversource Engineering Development Program, why is training in leadership just as important as engineering concepts in ensuring success?
GALLUZZO: “Developing a diverse, empowered and engaged workforce, able to deliver great service safely is an important piece of our company vision. We look at these programs from a holistic approach by developing talent and preparing program participants to become a part of our engaged Eversource community.
“Providing a big picture view of the company, exposing participants to organizations they may collaborate with in the future and delivering foundational leadership learning opportunities compliments the engineering work. This combination enables the participants to succeed in their role as an engaged member of our Eversource community.
“We define an engaged employee as one who: Focuses on delivering a superior customer experience and advocating for both internal and external customers; Goes above and beyond, takes ownership, works collaboratively, raises ideas for improvement, represents the company professionally and embraces our core values.”
To register for the T&D World Conference and Expo or for more information, visit https://events.tdworld.com/tdw2022/registration