PennWell’s TransmissionHub will host its fifth annual TransForum Westevent on June 28-29 in Denver, and kicking off the second day of the event will be Christopher Clack, a research scientist for the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, working with the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) NOAA, who will deliver a presentation titled, “The case for a national HVDC grid to curb carbon emissions,” on June 29.
During his Ph.D., Clack completed an area of study centered on nonlinear resonance theory within the framework of magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) that remained unsolved for 20 years. He now leads the development of the National Energy with Weather System (NEWS) simulator and all of its associated components. The NEWS Simulator was designed around incorporating high resolution – both spatially and temporally – of generators, transmission, weather and demand. The weather data is provided by NOAA and processed to give estimate of power for different technologies. The NEWS simulator can also be run in dispatch mode to determine the most cost-effective utilization of existing infrastructure in a market format.
Following Clack’s presentation on June 29 will be a presentation titled, “Natural gas, the game-changer – Will it drive new transmission?,” which will be led by Elliott Nethercutt, a senior technical advisor at NERC, where he specializes in the development of NERC’s reliability assessments.
Nethercutt, who regularly engages in energy policies, electricity market structures, and regulatory issues, steers multiple technical stakeholder groups, including NERC’s Planning Committee, and coordinates regularly with regional entity representatives. Before joining NERC in 2011, he worked in the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability at the U.S. Department of Energy on issues ranging from transmission permitting and siting to smart grid integration.
After that presentation, panelists will discuss large transmission projects in the West. That panel will have three speakers: David Getts, general manager of SouthWestern Power Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of MMR Group; Mitch Colburn, Engineering Leader – 500-kV and Joint Projects, Idaho Power; and William (Bill) Bojorquez, vice president, Hunt Power, L.P.
In his role, Getts is responsible for the overall business and project development efforts of the company. Getts has more than 25 years of experience in the development and financing of infrastructure projects in Europe and the United States, with an emphasis on the power generation industry. He has financed more than 20 projects in the power generation, transportation and metals industries. Getts has arranged more than $4bn of project finance debt and more than $750m of private equity finance related to infrastructure projects.
Colburn leads Idaho Power’s 500-kV Projects group, where he is responsible for overseeing the permitting of the Boardman to Hemingway 500-kV transmission line project and Idaho Power’s interest in the Gateway West 500-kV transmission line project. His responsibilities also include overseeing Idaho Power’s jointly owned transmission facilities.
Bojorquez joined Hunt Power in 2008 and has more than 25 years of leadership responsibility in electric transmission engineering, planning and operations with senior management roles at Southern California Edison, the California ISO, ERCOT and Hunt. Bojorquez, who is recognized as an expert in multiple areas of electric system planning and reliability, competitive electric market operations, resource adequacy and the efficient integration of renewable technologies in Texas and North America, is responsible for directing long- and short-range transmission planning and development activities, evaluating new techniques and preparing implementation plans for project deployment for Hunt throughout North America. Bojorquez represents Hunt and Sharyland Utilities at regional ISOs/RTOs, government and regulatory bodies.
The last panel of the day – and of this year’s event – is titled, “Where is the money going to come from,” and will have three speakers: Michael Ferguson, an associate director in the Utilities & Infrastructure group at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services in New York City; Josh Batchelder, vice president/Lead Relationship Manager for CoBank’s Power, Energy & Utilities Banking Division; and Roman Fontes, senior investment officer for the Western Area Power Administration’s Transmission Infrastructure Program.
Ferguson, who works on the merchant power and midstream energy team, covering a portfolio of project financed power plants and pipelines, previously covered regulated utilities. Much of his research revolves around U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation. Before joining Standard & Poor’s in December 2011, he worked as a forensic accounting consultant with FTI Consulting in Washington, D.C. Ferguson worked on a varied array of cases, ranging from stock option backdating and revenue recognition to embezzlement and ponzi schemes.
Batchelder has, among other utility transactions, originated and closed numerous transmission debt financings with varying types of structures, including construction and permanent financing, corporate finance and project finance, investment grade and non-rated transactions, while committing debt capital to transmission in excess of $500m. Before joining CoBank in 2010, Batchelder served as senior vice president in GE Capital’s Enterprise Client Group, developing client relationships in the Mountain West across multiple industries, and earlier had served in a portfolio and underwriting capacity in GE Capital’s Corporate Lending credit group.
In his role, Fontes focuses on origination and project financing for transmission projects since 2011. Prior to government service, Fontes worked for Tier One Capital Management and the AES Corporation in various project finance and development roles on utility-scale renewable and conventional power generation in Europe and Africa. Fontes worked in Latin America with the Motorola telecommunications segment prior to joining the energy sector.