GridFWD 2019 Culture of Innovation

Agenda | Tours/Workshops | Keynotes | Modernization Best Practices | Markets & Models | Culture of Innovation | Speed Pitches

It takes more than software, sensors and switches to run the digital utility. External factors in the market impact progress for grid modernization and these dynamics are leading to developments in the ways that business is conducted. Take part in an exploration of the latest trends in business models and energy markets that support grid modernization, the expansion of renewable energy commitments, and the evolution of regulatory frameworks.

sessions on october 8

11:40AM - On the Ground - How to Shape the Right Team and Skills

It’s a brave, new and ever-changing world for technology providers and utilities alike, one that demands a cross-pollination of skill sets instead of the traditional roles of “engineer” or “business analyst.”  As our industry embraces new challenges and ways of doing business, a different employee profile is emerging: a “jack or jill of all trades” innovator, ready with a growth mindset and an ability to adopt and integrate best practices from across a variety of industries.  Moreover, executives are increasingly looking to incorporate new members into traditional teams: data scientists meet grid operators, cultural change agents are integrated with engineers.  This revolution in skill sets and teaming has definite implications for higher education and R&D institutions, HR managers leading the training and hiring of employees, utility executives looking to integrate skills and teams, and those working in traditional “silo” roles.

  • Moderator: Steve Wright, General Manager, Chelan PUD  

  • Scott Corwin, Executive Director, NWPPA

  • Booga Gilbertson, Sr VP - Operations, Puget Sound Energy

  • Debra Smith, CEO/General Manager, Seattle City Light

2:25PM - Embracing the Voice of the Customer

This session presents lessons for utilities from the Amazons of the world on how to really engage customers. We’ll delve into customer analytics, discuss how to move away from static segmentation, and analyze how data can and should drive engagement tactics. 

  • Moderator: Tom Martin, Managing Director of Product Management, Trove

  • Patty Durand, Executive Director, Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative

  • David Fanous, Principal Manager, Southern California Edison

  • Ralph Kappelhoff, Executive, Power & Utilities Solutions, Amazon

  • John McFarland, VP & Chief Customer Officer, Portland General Electric

4:25PM - Expanding Early Success into Full Deployment

The real challenge for designing and implementing pilot programs is not their successful execution but rather scaling them up to full deployment. This session delves into the life cycle of pilot programs, from identification and implementation to bringing those new ideas, programs and technology to scale, including barriers and best practices. We’ll hear from players from around the region and beyond—about their pilot successes, failures and lessons learned.

  • Moderator: John Gibson, Chief R&D Engineer, Avista

  • Carl Imhoff, Manager, Electricity Market Sector, PNNL

  • Mark Duvall, Director of Energy Utilization, EPRI

  • Michael Pesin, Deputy Asst. Secretary for Advanced Grid Research and Development, US Department of Energy

5:10PM - Deep Dive: Implementing Change Within an Organization

As organizations evolve to face new challenges, integrate new levels of advanced technology, and wrestle with expanding data sets, one key question emerges: how to make innovation work throughout an organization and its operations? Does one centralized team, composed of representatives from various departments, spearhead changes for the rest of the group? Or should innovation and expertise be spread out and embedded across an organization? This session explores how to spur innovation, best practices, and collaboration by calling on examples from across industries. We’ll hear about the pros and cons of vertical vs. horizontal organizational structures and strategies for generating ideas and problem-solving.

  • Round table led by Patricia Bourne, CEO, EQUS (Canada’s largest member-owned utility)

sessions on october 9

11:35AM - Creating a Culture that Embraces Innovation 

Utilities are used to changing technologies and improvements to the grid, but now they are challenged to change the way they think about innovation—leveraging best practices not just from other utilities but from industries like Tech and Design Thinking to create a new, innovative environment. To go along with this new environment, employees are being challenged to no longer just be the deep technical Subject Matter Experts, but to be able to flex across a number of topic areas and engage across many parts of the utility in ways they haven’t before. 

  • Moderator: Alison Silverstein, Alison Silverstein Consulting

  • Larry Bekkedahl, VP – Transmission & Distribution, Portland General Electric

  • Jeff Cook, VP Transmission Planning and Asset Management, BPA

  • Andrew Dillon, Senior Principal, West Monroe Partners, Energy & Utilities Practice


See all the GridFWD 2019 speakers >

GridFWD 2019
October 7-9
Benaroya Hall, Seattle


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