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Celebrating Energy Central's Top Voices in the Community for 2022 – Intelligent Utility® Network

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Matt Chester's picture
Energy Analyst, Chester Energy and Policy

Official Energy Central Community Manager of Generation and Energy Management Networks. Matt is an energy analyst in Orlando FL (by way of Washington DC) working as an independent energy...

  • Member since 2018
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  • Dec 20, 2022
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As our Energy Central Community thrives and grows with each passing year, it's clear to us that we have something special here. This community of power industry professionals who so eagerly and openly share their insights, their lessons learned, and their questions to allow for constant collaboration is unparalleled anywhere else in our sector. 

The most critical part of this successful undertaking, though, is of course the people behind it all. The voices in our Community who are driving those conversations and keeping readers and peers coming back again and again. To once again celebrate the importance of our community members in making Energy Central the powerhouse that it is, we're ending the year by honoring the members on Energy Central who went above and beyond—frequently sharing news and content, reliably starting conversations across the site, and providing some of the most genuinely high-value contributions throughout 2022.

All week, we’ll be publishing articles highlighting the Top Voice of 2022 for each of our 6 Networks. As part of this tradition, some of those community members recognized were kind enough to answer a few questions to highlight what they found valuable in the sector in 2022, their predictions for 2023, and some personal insights to get to know the men and women behind it all. 

So, with that, thank you and congratulations to the following Top Voices in the Intelligent Utility Network in 2022!

See the Top Voices in Our Other Communities:

 

Michael Smith - Principal, KLN Group

Link to Michael’s Profile

Recommended submission from Michael: “Shields Up” is the New Standard for Electric Utilities… But What About DERs?

What stories have stood out to you as the most interesting, surprising, or important in 2022?

Up until last week's news about the fusion break-through at Lawrence Livermore Labs, it was the movement towards renewables at scale. This includes the aggressive and frankly unrealistic goals being set by various regulatory and legislative bodies, and by individual entities (like SMUD’s 100% renewable by 2030 goal), as well as some of the promising advances, most notably long duration storage. I need to learn more about this fusion announcement, but it sounds like it has the potential to be a game-changer.

What topics do you have on your radar that you expect to come into focus in 2023? 

A return to reality in the energy and business communities relative to the potential AND limitations of the energy transition. I think we’ll see: recognition that getting to 80 – 85% renewables should be the goal, not 100%, at least in the foreseeable future; that moving too quickly to EVs will have catastrophic implications for the grid; and that gas has a role in the energy transition.

What goals do you have for next year, personal or professional, that you’d like to put out into the universe?

I’d like to: continue to work independently with KLN Group, doing thought leadership writing, market research, and related biz dev activities for client n the energy and utility space; explore Board opportunities in the energy/technology space; continue my Board activities with Big Brothers and Folsom’s Hope non-profits and volunteering with my church; and stay healthy and fit while spending as much time in the High Sierra as possible.

 

Paul Gwaltney - Utility Industry Advisor, Independent

Link to Paul’s Profile

Recommended question answered by Paul: What IT/Software Development Certifications are desired for potential utility employees?

What topics do you have on your radar that you expect to come into focus in 2023? 

An interest area of mine is renewables and how the industry is increasingly turning to renewables across all areas.  The rise in EV's also has a huge impact.  I will continue to track these and I'm ever closer to purchasing an electric pickup truck.

Do you have any surprising or unexpected hobbies, talents, or interests that might make you stand out?

I am a chronic hobbyist and seeker of professional knowledge. I am a licensed attorney and licensed pilot, among other things, and find overlaps and insight from all of my pursuits.

What goals do you have for next year, personal or professional, that you’d like to put out into the universe?

Continue to pursue knowledge and insights in transformative industries.  I will also continue to help the veteran community (I'm a US Air Force veteran) in a variety of ways.

 

Tom Alrich - Supply Chain Cyber Risk Management, Tom Alrich LLC

Link to Tom’s Profile

Recommended submission from Tom: No good deed goes unpunished

What stories have stood out to you as the most interesting, surprising, or important in 2022?

One is the fact that physical attacks on substations - a problem we thought had been solved by CIP-014 - have now turned from a pure terrorist activity to a form of political statement by right-wing groups. The terrorists would have focused on the key substations that have a big impact on the grid; these are now protected by CIP-014. However, almost every substation in the country could be a target for people who want to black out a bunch of their friends and neighbors, in order to make their political statement (although the logic of that reasoning escapes me).

The other is the fact that nobody seems to have paid a political price in Texas for the appalling outage of February 14, 2021, and the huge financial cost that came with it - borne by the ordinary citizens of Texas, of course. This was incompetence on a grand scale, yet people seem to have shrugged it off. One measure that really needs to be taken is that Texas should connect ERCOT into the Eastern or Western Interconnect, so help will be available the instant it's needed most - not after the damage has been done.

What topics do you have on your radar that you expect to come into focus in 2023? 

I'm concerned about security of the software supply chain, which is still far from what it should be - two years after SolarWinds showed the cost of not addressing these problems. The problem isn't so much that suppliers aren't willing to do what's needed, or that users (including the power industry) aren't interested in fixing the problems. It's really much more a problem that software users are looking for government to take the lead in solving the problem. That isn't working - it's up to the users themselves to start pressing for the needed changes.

What goals do you have for next year, personal or professional, that you’d like to put out into the universe?

I have started an informal group called the SBOM Forum, which is dedicated to finding solutions to the various problems that are preventing SBOMs from being widely used by end users. That group has already addressed one very important problem, and we'll hopefully address a lot more (perhaps through getting some help from others) in the coming year.

 

Pat Hohl - Director, Electric Industry Solutions, Esri

Link to Pat’s Profile

Recommended submission from Pat: Results - How Prepared Are Utilities for the EV Revolution?

What topics do you have on your radar that you expect to come into focus in 2023? 

The modern grid is data driven. Advanced applications are drawing attention to weakness in network data. I expect increased attention on network management data - quality, capture, timeliness, and increased detail.

How do you hope to see your participation on the Energy Central platform evolve or grow in the coming year?

The modernization on the horizon is nothing short of a moonshot – I’m looking forward to increased collaboration among the Energy Central community.

What goals do you have for next year, personal or professional, that you’d like to put out into the universe?

2022 was a wonderful year of reconnecting with people after the pandemic. In that spirit, I’ll be attending many events in 2023 and hope to meet more Energy Central community members in person.

 

Congratulations once again to our Top Voices in the Intelligent Utility Network, and thanks to all Energy Central Community Members for enabling the community and platform to thrive this year! And keep an eye out for the next Top Voices Articles to come as this week unfolds.

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