Taking the Lead on Resiliency in 2021

Thanks to the tumultuous events of 2020, utilities in North America found themselves confronting multiple and sometimes concurrent crises. COVID-19 did not halt for the year’s long list of severe weather events and wildfires. Normally well-versed in crisis management, utilities found themselves confronting new challenges while dealing with both the expected and unexpected from mother nature.

The “new normal” of pandemic-related disruptions has collided with a “new reality” of more frequent severe weather events and wildfires. Historical data from the NOAA shows that the average number of “billion-dollar” severe weather events has steadily increased every decade since the 1980s. From 1980-1989, billion-dollar weather events averaged 2.9 events per year. From 2010-2019, billion-dollar events averaged 11.9 events per year. As of October 2020, the NOAA has reported no less than 16 of these billion-dollar events (including wildfires and hurricanes Sally, Laura, and Isaias).

Last year’s events have led many utilities and stakeholders to ask important questions about the future of resiliency and hardening North America’s electrical grid.

Leading Cost-Effective Resiliency Efforts

A recent article in Public Utilities Fortnightly by Mike Beehler explained the need for a new resiliency paradigm and how electric utilities are in a unique position to take the lead on cost-effective resiliency efforts.

“System resiliency is achieved by grid hardening, or physically changing infrastructure to reduce its susceptibility to damage. Resiliency is the ability to withstand a high-impact, low-probability event with little or no customer impact. Or, according to the North American Reliability Council, the effectiveness of a resilient infrastructure or enterprise depends upon its ability to anticipate, absorb, adapt to, and/or rapidly recover from a potentially disruptive event.

Hardening the grid increases its durability and stability — making it better able to withstand the impacts of severe weather and fire and potentially reduce the impacts of unexpected worldwide events like COVID-19. Utilities have a unique opportunity to take the lead on building system resiliency and developing best practices for monitoring, measuring, and assessing the results.

Electric utilities have the best data and access to world-class capabilities to assess resiliency levels, their cost-effectiveness, and life-cycle value versus initial capital cost. New metrics may be needed such as Total Length of Restoration to define the benefits to all customers. 

Additionally, electric utilities are the key point of communication between consumers and regulators. Positioned between all relevant parties, electric utilities are best able to lead the dialogue, advocate for regulatory change, and propose cost-effective resilience solutions for long-term improvement that will provide stakeholder and shareholder value.

Unfortunately, electric utilities have the financial risk. Normally not adversely impacted by stock market volatility, U.S. utilities saw share prices fall by ten percent to thirty percent during COVID-19. Increasing severe weather and fire events bring financial risk.”

Utilities are Not Alone

An organization of suppliers, consultants, and other stakeholders, PDi2 is here to support the industry in finding the most cost-effective resiliency solutions. Our purpose is to achieve power grid resiliency and reliability at the lowest life-cycle cost. To this end, our website offers many free resources, and we hope you will take some time to explore them.

Visit our Research page to download the Utility Infrastructure Resiliency Playbook. This comprehensive resource outlines the steps for creating a resiliency program and includes examples of how some utilities are already investing in programs to make their T&D systems more resilient.

Or, head over to our White Papers and Presentations page to read the full version of Mike’s article referenced above or to watch a webinar about Dominion Energy’s Strategic Underground Program.

Mike Beehler

National Spokesperson/PDI2

Mike Beehler has 40 years of electric T&D experience at Tucson Electric Power, Hawaiian Electric Company and Burns & McDonnell.  He is educated as a civil/structural engineer and is a registered professional engineer in eight states.  He currently is the founding member and Chief Opportunity Officer of Mike Beehler & Associates, LLC and serves as the National Spokesperson for the Power Delivery Intelligence Initiative. 

Mike is a Fellow in ASCE and a Member of IEEE and CIGRE.  He has been married for 40 years and has four adult children and some delightful grandchildren.  He lives on Singer Island, FL.

Tony Hemling

Earthgrid
Voting Member PDi2

Troy Helming is a modern-day industrialist and Unicorn founder. He’s an innovator, inventor, author, an elite athlete (invited 4x to compete on American Ninja Warrior), and a clean energy executive. As a creator, he’s founded clean energy & climate-tech companies that have generated more than $30 Billion of economic impact to date and invented 2 technologies that have led to over 60 clean energy patent claims.

LinkedIn

Tim Wagner, Executive Director

Tim Wagner has nearly thirty years of association management experience, including positions as President & CEO, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Director of Finance. He has been instrumental in the financial and program success of several associations in the power, energy, and broadband industries. He has vast experience at national trade associations, including association governance, grant management, workforce development, planned giving, meeting planning, accounting, investment management, employee benefits, building operations, and information systems. Tim is a graduate (summa cum laude) of the University of Virginia, where he presented his thesis on the Economic Impact of the Rural Electrification Administration.

Landry Molimbi

Head of Asset Management and Prysmian Electronics
Prysmian Group North America
Voting Member PDi2

Landry Molimbi is responsible for leading all Asset Management and Product Development activities for High Voltage & Medium Voltage Partial Discharge testing/monitoring services, optical sensing products (DAS, DTS) and innovative solutions for the North America Business Units (High Voltage, Power Distribution, Industrial, Telecom).

In this role, Landry is focused on business development, project management, technical sales support, and Partial Discharge measurement services for the Prysmian Group proprietary and revolutionary PRY-CAM technologies for the asset management of electrical systems, helping utilities increase uptime, asset longevity and safety while reducing maintenance costs & risks.

Landry started his career with General Cable (Silec) in 2007 and joined NKT Photonics in 2011. He moved to the Prysmian Group as Vice President for the Prysmian Electronics BU in 2018.

Born in Paris, France, Landry holds a master’s degree in Engineering from the ENSEM, a school of the National Polytechnic Institute of Lorraine in Nancy. Landry is also a member of various industry committees and an active member of CIGRE.

John W. Fluharty, II

Quanta Services Inc.
Voting Member PDi2

John W Fluharty, II is currently working as part of Quanta Services, Inc.’s (Quanta) underground cable group that performs large underground electrical projects.

Previously Mr. Fluharty was Vice President of Mears Group, Inc. (Mears) a subsidiary of Quanta Services, Inc. He was an owner of Mears until its sale to Quanta in 2000. He managed every division in the company and at the end of his tenure with Mears he focused on business development, asset management, safety and operations for large projects.

Mr. Fluharty is a board member of the Power and Communications Contractor Association (PCCA), and the American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA).

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David Lindsay

Marketing Manager – Energy Borealis Compounds, Inc.
Immediate-past Chairman/Voting Member PDi2

David Lindsay is currently Marketing Manager for the Energy business of Borealis Compounds, Inc. in North America. He has over 20 years in the US wire and cable business, working at manufacturers, non-profit organizations and electrical contractors. His experiences range from research and product development, to manufacturing, construction and installation of EHV cable systems. At Borealis he is responsible for customer and end-use marketing, and strategic planning of all wire and cable related product lines.

David serves on the NEETRAC Advisory Board, is actively involved in IEEE Insulated Conductor Committee and is past US representative to Cigré SC B1. He holds a Bachelors of Materials Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Masters of Business Administration from the University of West Georgia.

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Paul Caronia

Application Technology Leader, Power Cables - DOW
Executive Board/Voting Member PDi2

Paul Caronia, is the global power cable materials application technology leader in the Wire and Cable materials group of The Dow Chemical Company. He is responsible for leading the development and commercialization of new product technology for power cable applications. He has been involved in the development and commercial usage of today’s tree-retardant crosslinked polyethylene used in medium voltage cables, crosslinked polyethylene insulation used in high voltage cables as well as semiconductive compounds and flame retardant compounds. He is a senior member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Power Engineering Society and the IEEE’s Insulated Conductors Committee (ICC) as well as a voting member of the IEEE standard association. As a member of the IEEE ICC, he chairs ICC A7 on power cable jackets which just recently completed revising IEEE Guide P532for Selecting and Testing Jackets for Power, Instrumentation and Control Cables as well as the chair of ICC A6 on accelerated aging of materials used in cable applications. Paul is also a member of CIGRE (International Council on Large Electric Systems) and was a member of working group B1.55 that developed recommendations for submarine cables to 60 kV and is currently a member of working group B2.75 developing an application guide for insulated and un-insulated conductors used on medium and low voltage overhead lines. Is the author of over 40 publications/presentations, has over 12 granted patents and is a recipient of the R&D100 award. He is a graduate of Rutgers University, holding Degrees in Engineering as well as a licensed professional engineer.

LinkedIn

Ben Lanz

Director of Applications Engineering, IMCORP
Chair/Voting Member PDi2

After 20 years in the power cable industry, Mr. Lanz currently holds the position of Director of Applications Engineering at IMCORP and has technical oversight of power cable life cycle consulting. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE Power & Energy Society, a voting member of the IEEE Standards Society, and a member of the IEEE Dielectrics and Industrial Applications Societies. He has served as Chairman of the Insulated Conductors Committee (ICC) technical committees responsible for cable testing, cable reliability and surge arresters, Chairman of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) O&M Balance of Plant technical subcommittee, a UL technical study committee member for MV and HV DC cables and is a reviewer and voting pool member for InterNational Electrical Testing Association (NETA) standards. Mr. Lanz received his electrical engineering degree from the University of Connecticut (UCONN) under mentorship of Director of the Institute of Material Science Electrical Insulation Research Center (EIRC), Dr. Matthew Mashikian. He has published over a dozen papers on power system reliability, asset management, and diagnostics and regularly presents on the topics.