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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.