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Thursday, February 9, 2023 | 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM PT

DISTRIBUTECH Mega Sessions are panel discussions with high-level, inspirational, and thought-provoking speakers moderated by DISTRIBUTECH Advisory Committee members or other well-known electricity stakeholders. The topics covered reflect the most pressing issues in the T&D space such as the evolving utility business model, resiliency in the face of a changing climate, FERC Orders, net-zero and decarbonization, DER, and cybersecurity. All registered DISTRIBUTECH attendees are welcome to attend Mega Sessions.

DISTRIBUTECH speaking opportunities are highly sought-out in the electricity industry. Speakers are experts in their field and provide attendees with the most up-to-date information on the latest industry developments.

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Transforming the Regulatory Environment for the Utility of the Future

The energy transition is fully upon us and utilities are preparing their grids, workforce, and operations to meet the fully electrified future powered by 100% clean energy. How will utilities and customers interact when the customers are playing a much larger part in the management of electricity – from generating solar PV to storing and deploying energy in home batteries and EVs? How does our current system of regulation need to change to get from where we are today to where we envision, we are going tomorrow? What changes in the regulator model might help accelerate the transformation? This panel, comprised of former and current electricity regulators, will discuss the changes that are needed to enable the Utility of the Future. Panelists will provide perspective on regulatory reforms needed around North America to help accelerate the energy transition and enable utilities to have successful future business models.

Moderators:

  • Tom Friedman, Managing Partner, AlignResults Consulting, LLC
  • Mary Sprayregen, Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs and Utility Market Development, Oracle Utilities

Panelists:

  • John McCaffrey, Senior Regulatory Counsel, APPA
  • Allen M. Freifeld, Attorney, Consultant, CPower Energy Management
  • Carl Linvill, Former Nevada PUC Commissioner, currently Executive Consultant, Regulatory Assistance Project

 

Vegetation Management and Other Wildfire Risk Mitigation Strategies

The management of vegetation on transmission and distribution corridors is key to providing a reliable supply of electricity. Indeed, vegetation management ensures public and worker safety and is a key focus of wildfire mitigation programs.  This session will bring together a wide mix of utilities to share their experiences within the broader wildfire mitigation practice. 

Representatives from the International Wildfire Risk Mitigation Consortium (IWRMC), a consortium of utilities facing significant wildfire risks on the US west coast, Canada, Australia, and South America will share their experiences with wildfire mitigation and a representative from Florida Power & Light will share the utility’s experiences developing a platform that integrates GIS, LiDAR, and analytics to create a 3D digital twin and 2D GIS-style visuals and reports. 

Moderator: Jack Shearman, CEO UMS Group, Officer in Charge of the IWRMC Program 

Panelists:

  • Iliana Rentz, Head of Vegetation Management, Florida Power & Light
  • Heath Frewin, Manager of Vegetation Strategy, Essential Energy
  • Dave Geier, Former COO, SDG&E
  • Michael Daleo, VM Manager, SDG&E

Using EVs to Accelerate the Distribution Network Journey

Successful grid integration of Electric Vehicles (EVs) will require digitalization of utility operations, bi-directional and real-time customer engagement, and accelerated and optimized integration of distributed and clean energy sources. The Distribution System Operator (DSO) of the future must do the same. One approach is to leverage EVs to accelerate development of the DSO model. But, as e-mobility adoption rates accelerate, distribution utilities must get ahead of their customers’ driving and charging patterns so that they can optimize the grid for their rule as the gas pumps of tomorrow. This session focuses on the opportunity to innovate faster toward the DSO model of the future.

Panel Moderator: Neetika Sathe, Vice President, Alectra Green Energy & Technology Centre, Alectra Utilities Inc.

Panelists:

  • Marc Coltelli, EY Americas and Global eMobility Energy Leader, Ernst & Young
  • Brian Bentz, President and CEO, Alectra Inc. 
  • To be announced! 

FERC Order 2222: Implementation and Impacts for Distribution Utilities

The implementation of FERC Order 2222, and the participation of aggregated distributed energy resources in wholesale markets, presents a myriad of challenges for distribution utilities. At the forefront are changing dynamics and responsibilities between the grid operator, transmission owner, and distribution utility. Questions remain around reliability certifications, communication and data sharing, and scheduled outages, among other challenges. This panel will analyze the impact of FERC Order 2222 on distribution utilities in markets that have already implemented the policy.

Moderator: 

  • George Bjelovuk, Vice President - Next Generation Grid Management, Siemens Industry Inc. 

Panelists:

  • Michael DeSocio, Director of Market Design, NYISO
  • John Romano, Section Manager - Utility of the Future, ConED
  • Jill Powers, Infrastructure and Regulatory Policy Manager, California Independent System Operations

City View: Insights into the City/Utility Smart Cities Interface

When it comes to issues like EV adoption, microgrids, and public health and safety, the words may sound the same, but the goals may be very different depending on where you sit. City governments can be key allies as electric utilities advance Smart Cities initiatives. Gaining greater insight into how city governments and agencies think about these issues can lead to even greater collaboration. This mega session offers a city-side view of Smart Cities and delivers action items for utilities to address.

Moderator: David Wagman, Vice President - Energy Content, Clarion Events

Panelists:

  • Dennis Gakunga, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Chula Vista, Economic Development Department
  • John Phelan, Energy Services Manager & Policy Advisor, City of Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Mindy Craig, Principal and Owner, BluePoint Planning