Top Voices in the Energy Central Community for 2021 – Grid Network

Posted to Energy Central in the Grid Professionals Group
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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
  • 10,886 items added with 1,521,237 views
  • Dec 17, 2021

Energy Central strives to be the go-to platform for utility industry professionals to share what they are working on, to learn from their peers in the power sector, and to collaborate 24/7, 365 with the leading voices in the world of energy. We put a lot of effort behind different avenues in which engagement and learning actively takes place: from our Special Issue Series to our regular Q&A sections featuring answers from community experts to our Energy Central Power Perspectives Podcast and so much more.

But the obvious truth is this: none of that would matter without the intelligent, active, and excited community that's built this platform into what it is! This wouldn't happen without you, whether you're a daily contributor or an occasional reader. 

To celebrate the importance of our community members in making Energy Central the powerhouse that it is, the Energy Central Community Team wanted to once again 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 2021 for each of our 6 Networks. As part of this recognition, some of those recognized were kind enough to answer some quick questions to highlight what they found valuable in the sector in 2021, their predictions for the year ahead, and even just peeling back the curtain to get to know them more personally. I hope you enjoy!

So, with that, thank you and congratulations to the following Top Voices in the Grid Network in 2021!

See other entries in this series: 



Paul Hobcraft - Innovation Knowledge Provider, Agility Innovation

Link to Paul's profile

Recommended submission from Paul: The World Awaits, What is the Energy and Climate Outlook?

What has been the most compelling utility-focused story in your opinion this year?

I really think the (final) recognition of the investments that are needed across the Grids, from provider to consumer and all the complexity of change this brings

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to new members of the Energy Central Community?

There is a REAL difference in drinking old and new wines. Old ones drink slowly and invest in understanding, new ones simply consume if they appeal. That is my advice, select a few areas and spend time, enjoy the vast array of energy stories and grab the ones that appeal!

What area in energy and utilities do you hope gets more focus in 2022?

The complexities of building a robust (new) infrastructure is full of interest, knowledge sharing and education


Shirish Patil - Global Head & Consulting, Wipro Technologies

Link to Shirish's profile

Recommended submission from Shirish: Managing Electric Grids for Resilience



Mike Beehler - COO, Mike Beehler & Associates, LLC

Link to Mike's profile

Recommended submission from Mike: After the latest windstorm, the question pops up again: Why don't we bury power lines on the South Hill?

What has been the most compelling utility-focused story in your opinion this year? 

The announcement by PG&E to spend $15-$30B to underground 10% of their T&D system is a huge milestone in our industry.  New CEO Patti Poppe said “they cannot afford NOT to do it” when talking about the capital cost versus the total cost of ownership of underground assets. 

What area in energy and utilities do you hope gets more focus in 2022?

I believe undergrounding deserves more attention in 2022 especially with the PG&E program and the multiple strategic undergrounding pilots around the country.  Undergrounding is a paradigm shift happening right now.  After undergrounding, I think we should learn more about hydrogen as a mobile and stationary storage option and the hydrogen economy in general.  

In your free time not spent thinking and leading in energy, what are your go to ways to pass time? 

I love the outdoors and spend time walking the beach, swimming in the ocean and kayaking.  I am also an avid reader of historical biographies and recently finished biographies on George Washington, The Wright Brothers, Grover Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt, William Seward, Kit Caron and soon, Phil Knight.  


Doug Houseman - Principal Consultant, 1898 & Co.

Link to Doug's profile

Recommended submission from Doug: If I Were the Energy King Part 2: Utility Regulation and Operations

What do you get personally and professionally out of your time spent sharing on Energy Central?

I am in probably the last decade of my career having spent over 40 years in the industry. I have learned many things in that time, and others who learned similar lessons have in many cases retired or moved on. Helping newer members of the industry learn some of the lessons without the pain of failure is my motivation. We are in a critical period of the transformation, a tough transformation that many companies will not survive. Our obligation is to keep the power on for all of our customers in the industry while remaining affordable, reliable, and sustainable. The fewer budget dollars spent on blind alleys, means that more dollars are available to solve issues. Transmission and distribution BOTH require levels of investment that have never been seen. Can we find the solutions that lower those investments while doubling or tripling the movement of power?

What area in energy and utilities do you hope gets more focus in 2022?

Storage beyond lithium-ion batteries. While Lithium is a cool transportation technology, it is not well suited for the utility asset cycle nor for the abuse many of the use cases put on storage. It is critical that people open their eyes to other more sustainable storage types (e.g., pumped hydro, flow batteries, gravity storage, etc.) Storage to a large extent was not taught as a college class and when it was, it was lithium-based batteries. The number of people who focus on alternatives to lithium is far too small in the industry, and the money flow into lithium gives them a megaphone in state and federal capitals.

In your free time not spent thinking and leading in energy, what are your go to ways to pass time?

For pure leisure, I play a number of economic/world building games, mostly to see if I can do better than last time. But much of my time is spent designing and running in person simulations with physical pieces that are moved about the table, some of these are economic based, and some are conflict based.


Congratulations once again to our Top Voices in the Energy Management 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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Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Dec 23, 2021

Thanks for all of your contributions - I am looking forward to 2022.  Happy Holidays

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