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Lesson of the Winter Power Collapse

image credit: Martin Rosenberg

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Journalist, Author, Social Media and Conference Architect Hippo Energy Media

Experienced journalist, executive conference architect, strategic thinker with a demonstrated history of working in information services. Strong professional skilled in Copywriting, Editing...

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In this episode of Grid Talk, host Marty Rosenberg talks Barbara Sugg who is the President and CEO of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP). The discussion focuses on February’s extreme cold weather event that knocked out power in parts of Texas and impacted some of SPP’s operations. 

“The issues that Southwest Power Pool had were similar to that in ERCOT in the case that we had more load than we could supply energy for, but it wasn’t nearly as significant as what happened in ERCOT,” said Sugg.

Ms. Sugg will explain the key difference that allowed SPP to minimize the impact compared to Texas utilities and what should be done to prepare for similar weather situations in the future.

“We would be naive to think that won’t happen again, and so we have to focus on that, and we’ve got to really shift our mindset to looking at what the projections are for the future.”

Finally, she addresses cyber security threats to the power system.

“It is definitely very much still our number one corporate threat.”   

Barbara Sugg became President and CEO of SPP in April of 2020. Ms. Sugg has 30 years of IT experience in the electric utility industry. She joined SPP in 1997 as a senior IT specialist, focused on application development and maintenance for computer systems in support of tariff administration, reliability coordination and regional energy scheduling. She has been a member of the SPP management team since 1999 and became vice president of information technology in 2010 and chief security officer in 2016.

Ms. Sugg earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1986 and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School in 2013.


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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 16, 2021

So important and fascinating to hear the take from the leader of SPP in light of what happened with ERCOT. There's a lot of work to do, and cooperation and sharing lessons / education is a critical aspect of that. 

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