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Top Voices in the Energy Central Community for 2020 – 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
  • 10,875 items added with 1,518,002 views
  • Dec 17, 2020
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A few years ago, Energy Central created a Community Platform with the idea of connecting every power industry professional in a collaborative environment.  Our goal was to give professionals in the industry a way to share, learn, and connect.  Since that time, our communities have grown, engagement is at an all-time high, and we are seeing more and more collaboration and sharing.  Making all this happen is you!

We know there are plenty of places and ways in which you can stay up-to-date on what is happening in the utility industry, but what makes Energy Central unparalleled is the true sense of Community created by every one of you.  Whether you engage by contributing posts, sharing links, asking questions, adding your events to the EC calendar, conversing and debating issues in the comments section, or even just reading, it is your voice and your involvement that make Energy Central Communities thrive. So, thank you for that!

As we look back on a noteworthy year, the Energy Central Team wanted to recognize the members on Energy Central who went above and beyond—frequently sharing news and content, reliably starting conversations across the site, and providing genuinely high-value contributions.

Each day this week, we’ll be publishing an article highlighting the Top Voice of 2020 for each of our 6 Networks. As part of this recognition, we asked each of them to answer some quick questions to highlight the past year in the industry and give us more of an insight into their lives—I hope you enjoy!

So, without further ado, thank you and congratulations to the following Top Voices in the Intelligent Utility Network in 2020!

See the already published Top Voices Articles here:

 

Pat Hohl – Director of Electric Industry Solutions at Esri

Link to Pat’s Profile

What’s something that your fellow community members might not know about and would surprise them?

“The 2020, El Dorado “gender reveal” fire started at the top of the street where I live. This gave me a front row seat to several evacuations, public communication, and utility impacts. We’re still cleaning up filthy ash every time the wind blows. As the winter winds arrive, we’re now experiencing Public Safety Power Shutoffs too.”

 

What topics do you hope to read/write about more in 2021?

“With many staff working remotely, utilities are applying additional resources to virtual representations of their networks. These “digital twins” can include assets, the real world, relationships and behaviors. Utilities are also working hard to integrate their CAD resources more tightly with other representations. I plan to both watch and write about these models of the natural and the built environment in the coming year.”

 

Is there a post or exchange on Energy Central that you’re most proud of?

“This year, I really liked writing Asset Management – What Would be Better? Like most of my articles, it was based in a specific experience. I step progressively through ways to address the common problem of cable replacement more effectively. I hope readers found it thought-provoking to bump up each step considering how to improve the approach with common data.”

 

Alan King – CEO of Dusk Mobile

Link to Alan’s Profile

What has been the most interesting utility-focused story for you to follow this past year?

“The commitments to the renewables area, particularly in Australia. Emissions reductions with the significant drop off in global travel across land, sea an air, which isn't a sustainable way to reduce them given the impacts to economies but a glimpse of what good could look like with alternate energy sources.”

 

If you could give one piece of advice to newly joined members of the Energy Central Community, what would it be?

“Don't be afraid to ask for introductions to other members. Questions are easy to ask online and content is forthcoming but as a true trusted community, if you'd like to be introduced to another member or understand more about a challenges, company or pretty much anything related to energy, utilize the power of the network.”

 

When you’re not espousing thought leadership in the utility sector, what are your favorite ways to unwind and pass the time?

“Cycling - I've been fortunate to ride and compete all over the world for nearly 25 years, experiencing the highs and lows of bike riding along the way but I continue to be drawn back to it and meet amazing people along the way through it.”

 

 

Tom Alrich – Supply Chain Cybersecurity Risk Management and NERC CIP-013 Consulting

Link to Tom’s Profile

What has been the most interesting utility-focused story for you to follow this past year?

“It has to be the rollout of NERC CIP-013 in the electric power industry. This is the supply chain cybersecurity standard that was originally ordered by FERC in 2016, and came into effect on October 1 (after a 3-month delay due to Covid-19). This is the first mandatory supply chain security standard that I know of, outside of the military and the nuclear power industry. It has prompted a huge change (for the better) in the way electric utilities do business, and I think the ramifications are just being glimpsed now. I think supply chain cybersecurity is the most important source of cybersecurity risk in general for all organizations, not just electric utilities and not just in North America.”

 

What topics do you hope to read/write about more in 2021?

“It would have to be software supply chain cybersecurity. As I just said, I think supply chain cybersecurity is the most important source of cybersecurity risk; and I think software supply chain cybersecurity risk is the most important part of that. The biggest problem with software is that most software nowadays consists of 100 or so third-party or open-source components that are glued together with a little code written by the company whose name is on the software you buy. And those components have components. Before you can even know what your software risks are, you need to know what the components are; this is where software bills of material (SBoMs) come in. You need to know the software within your software (and the software within that software, etc) in order to have a complete picture of the risks your organization faces.”

 

Is there a post or exchange on Energy Central that you’re most proud of?

“That would be my post titled “No, there’s no monster under your bed, but let’s investigate the one peeking in your window.” In this post, I pointed out that the Executive Order issued by the White House on May 1 would, if implemented as written, lead to a tremendous expenditure of resources by the electric power industry with a miniscule increase in security – or perhaps no increase at all. At the same time, there are statements since 2018 by the FBI, CIA, NSA, DHS, Symantec and others to the effect that the Russians have planted malware in power grid control centers and could cause outages at any time – yet these statements have almost certainly never even been investigated by the industry or organizations like the NERC E-ISAC. I find this whole situation incredible.”

 

Stuart McCafferty – President of GridIntellect

Link to Stu’s Profile

What has been the most interesting utility-focused story for you to follow this past year?

“The shot heard around the world was the FERC 841 and 2222 decisions to allow DER and energy storage systems to participate in wholesale markets.  It took guts and puts us on the path to accelerate Distributed Energy Resource adoption, and with it modern technologies, climate friendly grid assets, better resilience, more democratic markets and Distribution System Operator models, new utility customer programs, and quicker ROI on renewable and battery assets.  FERC’s decision officially started the race towards a more sustainable energy future.”

 

What drives you to engage with your fellow Energy Central Community members on a regular basis?

“We are firmly in the teeth of disruption within the energy industry.  We are all trying to figure it out.  I regularly collaborate with my fellow co-writers, Eamonn McCormick and David Forfia.  But, I also engage with other Energy Central contributors like Matt Chester, Dick Brooks, Jim Horstman, Jake Brooks, and others.  We don’t always agree on everything, but we are all trying to contribute in the areas that we work in, have an opinion on, or are passionate about.  The Energy Central Community has attracted contributors that have the same interests and concerns that I have – and are willing to share their insights.  It’s a unique community that keeps me coming back daily.”
 

When you’re not espousing thought leadership in the utility sector, what are your favorite ways to unwind and pass the time?

“My best friend is my wife, Cindy.  We do a ton of stuff together – even after being together for more than 30 years.  I am also an avid golfer with a 8.5 handicap.  I try to play at least once a week during favorable weather months.”

 

Richelle Elberg – Principal Research Analyst, IoT and Connectivity at Guidehouse Insights

Link to Richelle’s Profile

What has been the most interesting utility-focused story for you to follow this past year?

“In terms of networking, there have been a number of new spectrum choices made available to utilities in the United States, including shared CBRS spectrum and the rebanded 900 MHz spectrum that can now support broadband wireless. Both of these options make private LTE networks feasible for utilities and I expect we’ll see growing interest in this as we head into 2021. This also opens up the conversation around LTE-based low power wide area protocols (NB-IoT, LTE Cat 1, LTE Cat M1), as well as the transition to 5G. Utilities have a lot to consider as they develop their long-term networking strategies.”

 

When you’re not espousing thought leadership in the utility sector, what are your favorite ways to unwind and pass the time?

“I am a novelist and recently finished my fourth novel. It’s a murder mystery set in southern New Mexico featuring a female, Boston native detective, a gung-ho journalist, and dozens of (dead) coyotes.”

 

Is there a post or exchange on Energy Central that you’re most proud of?

“My post from August titled “The LTE Family of Networking Protocols Represents Utilities’ Most Future-Proof Option” is the one that comes to mind.”

 

 

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 later this week…

Discussions

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Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on Dec 17, 2020

8.5 handicap - I'm never playing golf with you Stu. My best club is my water wedge!

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