Top transmission executives to converge on Washington

The men and women that are reshaping the Eastern grid will gather in the Washington-D.C. area Dec. 4 through Dec. 6 to take part in TransForum East and an invitation-only WIRES meeting that will precede the conference.

To cap off the first day, Clean Line Energy President Michael Skelly, Trans-Elect CEO Robert Mitchell, Transource President Antonio Smyth and ITC VP of Grid Holdings Terry Harvill will discuss what the future will hold for transmission, including what challenges the industry will face and what barriers will need to be removed.

Transource, a partnership between American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) and Great Plains Energy (NYSE:GXP) formed specifically to take advantage of the impending competition created by FERC Order 1000, is a good example of how traditional transmission owners are reinventing themselves.

“We set up a separate business unit for competitive projects primarily because it provides us with a broader reach to pursue projects outside of our traditional respective utility footprints, and it gives us flexibility on the regulatory and financial sides of the equation,” Smyth told TransmissionHub last week.

Big challenges being answered 

Discussions on how the industry is keeping the grid secure and integrating renewables are also on deck. Charlie Smith, Executive Director of the Utility Wind Integration Group, will discuss integration challenges with Midwest ISO’s Dale Osborn and SPP’s Katherine Prewitt.

“One of the challenges that we face as an RTO is the intermittency of wind and trying to deal with that in a real-time environment,” Prewitt told TransmissionHub. “Another one is the lack of transmission infrastructure.”

In the same time slot the next day, David Batz, Director, Cyber and Infrastructure Security for the Edison Electric Institute and Patrick Miller, President and CEO of EnergySec will reveal how the grid is being threatened and what the industy is doing about it.

“We don’t have to rebuild everything from the ground up every time a new piece of technology comes along,” ITC’s Harvill told TransmissionHub for an earlier article. “That has allowed us to stay at the forefront, we believe, on cybersecurity issues.”

Possibly the biggest barrier to getting transmission built is the permitting process. Lauren Azar, Senior Advisor to DOE Secretary Steven Chu, who is leading President Obama’s effort to streamline federal permitting, will discuss the results of those efforts a year after seven transmission projects were fast tracked under the new permitting process.

Big industry trends

The outlook for independent transmission may depend on the outcome of several contentious issues, including how FERC ultimately deals with the right of first refusal current enjoyed by incumbent transmission owners. Meanwhile, HVDC has become an important technology for independent transmission companies.

Edward Krapels, CEO of Anbaric Transmission will talk about the five independent HVDC projects he is working on while Ken Epp, Principal with Atlantic Wind Connection, will discuss why HVDC is the technology of choice for projects like his. Laurie Oppel, Managing Director of Energy for Navigant, will bring it all together to discuss the outlook for independent transmission in the East.

WIRES Policy Forum

Before these great transmission minds come together for TransForum, many of them will be meeting with U.S policy leaders as part of the WIRES Policy Forum. That Forum is a half-day, private meeting spearheaded by the non-profit transmission working group.


To register for TransForum, click here.