Energy Bar Association Panel Discussing the Smart Grid

Article excerpt

December 4, 2009

Washington, D.C.

SPEAKERS

MODERATOR:

Jeff Dennis

Chair, EBA Renewable Energy and Demand-Side Management Committee

Edison Electric Institute

PANELISTS:

Joe Miller

Senior Vice President

Horizon Energy Group

(Consultant to U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory)

Kevin Kelly

Director, Division of Policy Development

Office of Energy Policy and Innovation

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Paul Demartini

Vice President of Advanced Technology

Southern California Edison

Barbara R. Alexander

Consumer Affairs Consultant

PROCEEDINGS

MR. DENNIS:

Good morning everyone and welcome to our plenary panel. I'm Jeff Dennis, from the Edison Electric Institute here in Washington. This panel is entitled, "What is the Smart Grid Anyway? How could it Change the Electric Industry and Our Client's Business?"

We designed this panel, and the planners really put together the entire day, to try to give you a broad overview of Smart Grid. Why are policymakers so focused on it? Why is the electric industry pursuing it? What does it mean for the utility business and utility consumers? And why are your clients already asking you about it, or will be?

At the EBA mid-year meeting yesterday, Joe Rigby, the CEO of Pepeo Holdings, gave a great overview of his company's Smart Grid strategy. I was particularly struck by his description of the Smart Grid "Thomas Edison meets Bill Gates". I hope he doesn't mind that I'm stealing that from him this morning. We'll call it borrowing. I borrow it because I really think it makes a great point about the Smart Grid: it's really about adding game changing technologies - many of those information generating technologies - to our existing electric grid. In our conversations at Edison Electric Institute, we often call these technologies "game changing" because we think they have the potential to fundamentally change how the electric industry does business and how customers receive energy services.

If these technologies do "change the game," they're going to have significant implications for all of us humble energy lawyers. They'll have significant implications for the regulatory system we navigate our clients through. They could present new and novel jurisdictional issues. And they could present a variety of complex legal issues, ranging anywhere from the First Amendment and protection of the privacy of customer data to software licensing issues. So we can't cover all of these topics today but we can scratch the surface and explore a few of them. And this panel is intended to start us off with a broad prospective of the Smart Grid, from government, the electric utility industry, and electricity consumers.

We have an excellent panel here to help us do that. I'm going to introduce them and then I'm going to get out of their way.

First we're joined by Joe Miller. Joe is Senior Vice President of Horizon Energy Group. He provides expert insights to the electric industry in the areas of grid modernization and process technology and optimization. He also has the important role of serving as a leader of the DOE Smart Grid Implementation Strategy Team, and he will give us his insights into the Smart Grid from that vantage point. The DOE Smart Grid Implementation Strategy Team that he leads has developed a vision and other key concepts for the Smart Grid and is now focusing on supporting its implementation from a strategic perspective. Prior to joining Horizon, Joe was at Illinois Power for twenty-eight years where he held various positions in the nuclear power, transmission and distribution business units.

Second, we'll be joined by Kevin Kelly. Kevin is the Director of the Division of Policy Development, Office of Energy Policy and Innovation at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). …