The Current

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To hear more expert insights on energy policy, listen to our Podcast, The Current.

Episode 50: The Impacts of Deregulation 

This week, Ed Hirs an energy fellow at the University of Houston and a world renowned expert on deregulation joins The Current. Jeff and Ed explore the challenges and risks—including higher prices and less reliability—of deregulated electricity.

Episode 49: Inflation Reduction Act

This week on the Current, we are joined by Eric Grey, Vice President of Government Relations at the Edison Electric Institute and Austin Keyser, Assistant to the International President of Government Affairs for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Eric and Austin provide expert analysis on the Inflation Reduction Act and its potential impact on the electric power industry.

Episode 48: Key Takeaways from the Midterm Elections

This week on The Current, Phil Cox, a nationally renowned political operative, joins us to talk about the key takeaways from the midterm elections and what that means for upcoming policy debates at the state and federal level.

Episode 47: Entergy Supporting Customers in Louisiana

In this episode of The Current, Phillip May, President and CEO of Entergy Louisiana, and Deanna Rodriguez, President and CEO of Entergy New Orleans, join us to highlight the ways Entergy is supporting customers throughout Louisiana from bill assistance to resiliency investments.

Episode 46: Wildfire Technology Advancements

This week on The Current, join your host Kristine Telford as she deep dives into the new technologies the Department of Energy is utilizing to help mitigate against wildfires and other potential threats. To better explain these technologies and their capabilities Kristine is joined by this week’s guest Stewart Cedres, Senior Technical Lead and Strategist of Electric Grid Resilience Capabilities at the Office of Electricity at the Department of Energy.

Episode 45: Summer Reliability Assessment

Join the conversation to learn more about summer reliability, wildfires and how the electric grid as a whole is being impacted. To help provide unique insights into these issues Brad is joined by John Moura, Director of Reliability Assessment and Performance Analysis at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and Scott Aaronson, Senior Vice President of Security and Preparedness at Edison Electric Institute and also part of the Secretariat at the Electric Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC).

Episode 44: Wildfire Mitigation in New Mexico

This week on The Current, Matthew Jaramillo, Director of Government Affairs at PNM Resources, joins us to discuss the fire mitigation practices being used by the electric power industry as New Mexico faces its largest wildfire in state history.

Episode 43: Wildfire Mitigation in Idaho

In recent years, Idaho has experienced a growing number of wildfires breaking out across the state. Jon Axtman, Senior Manager of Transmission and Distribution Engineering and Reliability at Idaho Power joins us to discuss the threat of wildfire outbreaks, their impact on the electric power industry, and the mitigation strategies Idaho has adopted to combat this issue.

Episode 42: Energy Transition 

Join the discussion this week to learn about energy transition, just transition and what the energy industry is doing as it adapts. Mallory Huggins, a senior project director at the Keystone Policy Center, joins us to discuss what is currently happening within the industry and what is coming on the horizon.

Episode 41: Energy’s Role in Crypto Mining

This week, we dive into the world of crypto mining and how energy plays a critical role in the rise of this technology. To understand how blockchain and cryptocurrencies work, and their relationship with electricity use, we are joined by Thomas Mapes, Sr. Policy Analyst at the Chamber of Digital Commerce, and Fred Thiel, Chairman & CEO at Marathon Digital Holdings.

Episode 40: The DTE Energy Foundation & Investing in Michigan

Over the course of the pandemic, we all became familiar with the saying “we are in this together.” Power companies stepped up in unexpected ways to support customers and invest in communities they serve. One company that stood out was DTE Energy. The Current highlighted DTE’s partnership with Detroit early in the pandemic to provide Detroit school students laptops and internet connections to support their virtual lessons. Brad revisits that and other initiatives by DTE to support communities across Michigan. Joining this week’s conversation is Lynette Dowler, Vice President of Public Affairs at DTE Energy and President and Chair of the DTE Energy Foundation.

Episode 39: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Transportation electrification is undergoing a revolution as demand increases for private and commercial EV options. However, expanding access to charging infrastructure will require untangling a web of regulatory hurdles spanning different states and different regulatory jurisdictions. In this episode of The Current, Brad unpacks how the electric power and transportation industries are collaborating to plan for rising demand for charging tools, the ways in which the industries educate regulators, and the challenges that must be overcome to accelerate EV adoption. Joining the discussion are Kellen Schefter, Director of Electric Transportation at the Edison Electric Institute, and Phil Jones, Executive Director of the Alliance for Transportation Electrification.

Episode 38: How is LIHEAP Helping Families Keep the Lights On?

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), has helped millions of Americans struggling to pay electricity bills, especially since the pandemic. Joining us this week to explain LIHEAP’s importance to struggling families and how the program has evolved is Katrina Metlzer, Executive Director of the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC), and Theresa Kullen, Manager of the Colorado Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP).

Episode 37: What’s Next for Build Back Better? 

Can Democrats save the Build Back Better plan? Supreme Court politics and other legislative priorities are taking up precious time in the legislative calendar before the midterms, but President Biden and Democrats remain hopeful that components of BBB can pass. EEI’s Vice President of Government Relations, Eric Grey, joins us to discuss what vehicles are available to pass the energy components of that bill.

Episode 36: Nuclear Energy at an Inflection Point

In our first episode of 2022, Brad talks about nuclear energy with Beverly Marshall, Vice President of Governmental Affairs at the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). Nuclear energy is at an inflection point, as policymakers and companies increasingly rely on its potential to decarbonize the economy and meet ESG goals. Beverly talks about recent developments in nuclear and how federal and state action are poised to expand its role in America’s electricity market.

Episode 35: The South Carolina Solar Choice Settlement

This week, Lon Huber, Vice President of Rate Design and Strategic Solutions at Duke Energy joins us to discuss Duke Energy’s South Carolina Solar Choice Settlement. The settlement – and the proceeding that led to the settlement’s outcome – was unique compared to others. Lon lays out how parties were able to put aside differences and formulate an innovative rate design for DERs.

Episode 34: Think Globally, Act Locally: How America’s Mayors Are Shaping the Fight Against Climate Change

We all grew up hearing “think globally, act locally” when it comes to environmental issues. Who is better positioned to do that than our own mayors and local officials? This week, we have the honor of being joined by the mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Melvin Carter, who has pushed building code updates and transportation electrification projects in his city. Mayor Carter discusses those and other ways that local leaders can fight climate change while protecting low-income residents.

Episode 33: Accelerating Electric Vehicle Deployment

This week, we’re celebrating National Drive Electric Week by sitting down with Dan Bowerson, Senior Director of Energy and Environment at the Alliance for Automotive Innovation. Dan shares with us the car industry’s perspectives on the electric vehicle (EV) landscape, what needs to happen on the policy and consumer levels to accelerate EV deployment, and how the automotive and electric power industries can work together.

Episode 32: Congress, Infrastructure, and Budget Reconciliation

Congress returns from the August recess with an eye toward passing the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, which received overwhelming bipartisan support in August, and the more controversial $3.5 trillion budget. This week, Brad sits down with Capitol Hill expert Bob Russell, Partner at the Simmons & Russell Group, to help break down the infrastructure bill, budget reconciliation, and the politics surrounding both.

Episode 31: Unpacking the State Policy Trends Shaping the Electric Power Industry

From expanding cleaner energy resources to enhancing grid reliability, state policymakers are at the center of shaping how electricity is generated and delivered. Tim Fox, Vice President & Research Analyst at ClearView Energy Partners, sits down with Brad this week to walkthrough the different policy approaches red and blue states are implementing toward the electric power industry.

Episode 30: Lineworker Appreciation Day – The Next Generation of Lineworkers

July 10 is Lineworker Appreciation Day. Through severe storms, blistering heat and now even a pandemic, electric power company lineworkers power through to keep us connected. To celebrate America’s lineworkers, The Current sat down with Shannon Skinner, President of IBEW Local 396 and Foreman at NV Energy; Eppie Martinez, Executive Director of the National Utility Industry Training Fund at IBEW; and Missy Henriksen, Executive Director of the Center for Energy Workforce Development.

Episode 29: Texas Winter Storm Outages

On this week’s episode, The Current sat down for our very first live-audience interview on the social media platform Clubhouse to discuss the February winter storms that struck the South. Texas electricity consumers were particularly hit hard, with millions of Texans going without power in freezing temperatures for days. It could have been worse. The grid was just minutes away from being wiped out. The storm renewed focus on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), and its failure to prepare for and respond to the disaster. Ed Hirs, Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Houston and a bona fide expert on energy markets, sits down with Brad to discuss what happened and how to prevent this disaster from happening again.

Episode 28: Colonial Pipeline and Cybersecurity

Cyberattacks are expanding and becoming ever more sophisticated, and the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline in May highlighted the scale to which these attacks can penetrate critical infrastructure and upend millions of Americans’ lives. Joining Brad this week to discuss the attack and what policymakers – and companies – need to be doing to prevent and respond to cyberthreats is former Texas congressman and cybersecurity expert Will Hurd.

Episode 27: Wildfire Mitigation and Prevention

In this special edition of The Current, Brad sits down with three guests to discuss the different ways that government agencies and electric power companies prepare for and respond to wildfires. Jessica Gardetto, Chief of the Office of External Affairs at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), gives insights into the challenges of firefighting and how local and federal agencies coordinate with one-another. Then, two electric power industry experts join the conversation to discuss ways their companies address the threat from wildfires on their infrastructure and to customers: John Lee, Senior Director for Electric Distribution at Colorado-based Xcel Energy, and Jonathan Woldemariam, Director of Wildfire Mitigation and Vegetation Management at San Diego Gas and Electric.

Episode 26: American Association of Blacks in Energy’s 2021 National Conference

Brad sits down this week with Ralph Cleveland, Interim President and CEO of American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), to discuss AABE’s policy focus and its upcoming national conference, taking place virtually on May 25-27. The theme of this year’s conference is “Connecting the Dots,” and speakers include an array of experts from business, academia, and politics to speak about emerging policies, technologies, and trends in the energy industry. Learn more and register for the conference here.

Episode 25: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Electric Power Industry

Todd Manuel, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Transformation at EEI, joins Brad to discuss what initiatives member companies are taking to strengthen diversity and inclusion in the ranks of the electric power industry, and how last summer’s racial justice events impacted the industry.

Episode 24: Bhavani Amirthalingam, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Information Officer at Ameren Services, joins Brad to discuss the intersection between the electric power industry and telecommunications and what steps the industry is taking to boost access to broadband and the evolving smart grid.

Episode 23: This week, Brad discusses the electric industry’s priorities with the new Congress and the Biden administration, particularly as they relate to clean energy. Joining Brad is Emily Fisher, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Clean Energy at EEI, who will discuss the issues facing the larger industry. Sarah Venuto, Vice President of Public Policy at Duke Energy, will provide perspective on how Duke is looking at these issues and how her company is setting long-term plans for clean energy and grid investments – despite the constantly shifting policy priorities in Washington.

Episode 22: This week, Brad sits down with Brian Wolff, Executive Vice President of Policy & External Affairs at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), to discuss the top policy priorities the electric power industry is watching with the new Biden administration and Congress, including Covid relief, infrastructure, broadband, clean energy legislation and much more.

Episode 21: In our first episode of 2021, The Current dives deep into the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles, a framework that factors into which companies investors support. To talk about ESG, Brad is joined by Steve Fleishman, Managing Director and Senior Analyst at Wolfe Research, and Richard McMahon, Senior Vice President of Energy Supply and Finance at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).

Episode 20: This week, Brad sits down with Sandra Safro, Partner at K&L Gates LLP. Sandi recently launched a hydrogen practice at her firm, and she joins The Current to discuss hydrogen as a source of energy and how it’s transforming industries.

Episode 19: This week, Brad is joined by Eric Grey, Managing Director of Government Relations at EEI, to discuss the 2020 elections and what impact divided government may have on the Biden administration and federal policy-making.

Episode 18: This week, Brad is joined by Lawrence Jones, Vice President of International Programs at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), to discuss COVID-19’s global impact and how the electric industry is responding around the world.

Episode 17: This week, Brad sits down with Clint Odom, Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy at the National Urban League, to discuss issues related to social justice and race relations. Clint talks about what companies can – and should – be doing to promote dialogue on these issues and what role the electric industry and smart city policies have for bettering the lives of Black Americans and minorities.

Episode 16: To help explain how electricity providers are expanding the use of electric vehicles, Brad is joined by James Campbell, Director of Innovation and Sustainability Policy at Rocky Mountain Power. Rocky Mountain Power and its partners are helping to make Utah an attractive place for EVs. James shares how his state can become a model as companies and policymakers in other states pursue expanding EVs.

Episode 15: In August, an historic heatwave resulted in rolling blackouts that left hundreds of thousands of Californians without electricity. To help explain what happened and how we got to this point, Brad is joined by Philip D. Moeller, Executive Vice President of Business Operations Group and Regulatory Affairs at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).

Episode 14: Millions of Americans resorted to working and studying from their homes as COVID-19 shut down offices and schools. The dramatic shift underscored that many families still lack access to basic broadband services, leading to businesses struggling and students falling behind their peers. Brad speaks with Houston Smith, Vice President of Government Affairs at Alabama Power, to discuss the electric power industry’s role in expanding access to broadband services.

Episode 13: This week, Brad speaks with Donnie Colston, Director of the Utilities Department at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Donnie discusses how IBEW members, including 250,000 utility workers, are operating safely during the pandemic and what support membership would like to see from Congress.

Episode 12: This week, Brad sits down with Roshan Patel and Marie Sanderson, Partners at 50 State, a bipartisan strategic government relations firm, to share their perspectives on how successful governors have been so far in responding to the coronavirus crisis and what challenges remain.

Episode 11: As state governments face the financial shock due to COVID-19, Brad digs into the tools available for federal and state policymakers to offset their budget shortfalls. He is joined this week by Ben Ritz, Director of the Progressive Policy Institute’s Center for Funding America’s Future, and his colleague, Brendan McDermott, Fiscal Policy Analyst at the center, to discuss the fiscal challenges that states must tackle.

Episode 10: It’s been nearly four months since utility companies suspended disconnections and bolstered their customer support programs in response to COVID-19’s economic impact. This week, Brad speaks with Tara Oglesby, Vice President of Customer Experience for Ameren, to review how the St. Louis-based company serviced its customers’ evolving challenges and what lessons it is applying to its customer support model.

Episode 9:This week, Brad speaks with Emily Sanford Fisher, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for EEI, about trends in emissions related to COVID-19 and efforts throughout the electric utility industry to reduce carbon emissions while keeping rates affordable for customers.

Episode 8: As electric utility companies across the U.S. brace for summer storms, hurricanes and other disaster events, Brad sits down this week to discuss the mutual assistance program and how companies offer one another resources during times of crises to get the power back on. Wally Mealiea, Director of Preparedness & Recovery Policy at EEI, and Willie Wilson, Vice President of Operations at Entergy Corp., discuss the mutual assistance program and how it was activated during the Easter Day storms that hit the South.

Episode 7: This week, Brad sits down with two guests to discuss what state commissions and the federal government are doing to address COVID-19. Adam Benshoff, Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs at EEI, and Stan Wise, former Georgia Public Service Commissioner, share their perspective on the shifting regulatory landscape and what to expect moving forward.

Episode 6: This week, Brad speaks with Scott Segal, Partner at Bracewell, LLP, where he leads their government relations and communications group. Brad and Scott discuss federal COVID-19 stimulus funding, how it impacts the utility industry and what additional actions we can expect from Congress in the upcoming months.

Episode 5:This week, Brad speaks with Richard McMahon, Senior Vice President of Energy Supply and Finance at EEI, to discuss COVID-19’s impact on customers, electricity usage and on states’ economies. Brad and Richard also discuss what lessons policymakers may learn from this crisis and how to prepare for the next.

Episode 4:This week, Brad speaks with Katrina Metzler, Executive Director at the National Energy Utility & Affordability Coalition, or NEUAC. Katrina discusses the importance of the Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and how state policymakers can help families struggling financially due to COVID-19.

Episode 3: In this week’s episode, Brad talks with Nancy Moody, Vice President of Public Affairs at DTE Energy, to discuss DTE Energy’s partnership with Detroit public schools to bring internet and 51,000 laptops to students learning from home amid COVID-19 school closures.

Episode 2: In this episode Brad speaks with Monica Martinez of Utilities United Against Scams about some of the fraudulent activities that citizens should be wary of particularly under the various shelter at home orders and how people can protect themselves and their loved ones.

Episode 1: In the inaugural episode of ‘The Current,’ our host, Brad Viator, has a discussion with Scott Aaronson about what the electric industry is doing to respond to the COVID-19 crisis to ensure electricity is available as America moves to working at home.