It would be fair to say that the decisions on how we invest in transmission and distribution projects, are heavily driven by initial investment cost. What if we could improve the decision-making process by thinking about the longer term effects on society, energy consumers and the environment through considering the quantifiable factors of reliability, speed to implement and other life-cycle value contributors? This suggests a forward-looking approach, and there is every indication that the time is right for a change in philosophy relative to choosing the right installation option based on data rather than historic practices.

Let’s look at overhead and underground installation, for instance. Conversations regarding decisions to install power transmission lines underground or overhead has been ongoing for decades. Using data to help make decisions—on a case-by-case basis—can provide an objective means to evaluate power infrastructure investments and help determine which power delivery solutions—overhead or underground—to employ.

For example, while it’s true that underground can be more expensive on the front end, as rights-of-way become scarce, and improvements in quality and consistency of underground cables and installations increase, costs of overhead compared to underground come more in line. When combined with other factors including repair costs, outages and ongoing maintenance, the parity comes more closely into focus in certain situations.

Further, consider power outages as a life-cycle contributor. With occurrences like the 2003 Northeast blackout, Superstorm Sandy and now Hurricane Matthew, economic and societal impacts of power outages are even more in the forefront. According to a White House report in August of 2013: “Power outages cost the economy between $18 and $33 billion every year.” With numbers like these, both providers and users of electricity are putting these power industry drivers under the microscope:

  • Aging infrastructure
  • Long-term projected load growth
  • New sources of generation (e.g. renewables)
  • More volatile weather
  • Physical security (e.g. vandalism and terrorism)

So, the industry really must start looking beyond first costs. This philosophy can be a real game-changer. Value-based planning and the construction and implementation of viable methodologies for quantifying life-cycle costs must work hand-in-hand to produce the best outcome for communities, businesses, customers and the utilities that serve them. This is exactly what PDi2 proposes. We will:

  • Promote education and decisions based on full life-cycle cost comparisons
  • Implement and evaluate case-specific models that include:
    • Speed of implementation
    • Total life-cycle costs versus first costs of systems
    • Cost of delaying the project
    • Cost of outages to the economy and tax revenues
    • Additional repair and maintenance costs

The quantification of life-cycle costs is clearly an ambitious undertaking and will require much cooperation throughout the entire power industry value chain including:

  • Materials Suppliers/Compounders
  • Cable Makers
  • Installation Contractors
  • Equipment Manufacturers
  • Utilities, Municipalities and Independent Power Providers
  • Public Utility Commissions

A life-cycle cost approach to determine the best power infrastructure options for new and rehabilitation projects should be given strong consideration. Fact-based data can:

  • Help utilities justify investment decisions
  • Educate stakeholders on all technology and construction options to determine the most viable, reliable and cost-effective solution for the installation of transmission and distribution systems
  •  Convey qualitative and quantitative value of installation options to all stakeholders
  • Determine common methods by which cable systems can be evaluated from both a utility and public-value perspective
  • Enable adoption of developed models as an enabler for grid extension in North America

In conclusion, it should be recognized that committing to this kind of shift in philosophy, and converting data-based models into action, can have a sizeable impact on the industry. When considering the effect that repairs, operations and maintenance have on total costs, along with acknowledging that improved reliability leads to enhanced reputation and happier customers—adopting a life-cycle approach to project determination is simply the right thing to do.


As seen in November 9 issue of Electric Light & Power


About the authors: Brent Richardson is  Manager, End Use Marketing, North America, Dow Electrical & Telecommunications.  In this role, Brent represents Dow’s Electrical & Telecommunications business to the utility industry in North America.  Prior to joining Dow in May of 2007, Brent worked for nearly 25 years for Duke Energy in Charlotte, NC.  His experience includes many components of the utility business including Field Engineering, Distribution Standards, Project and Product Management and Marketing. He received a BS in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech and is a registered Professional Engineer in NC and SC. Richardson serves as Vice Chair of the ICC A14D – Cable Standards subcommittee and is the Vice Chair, Voting Member, of the Power Delivery Intelligence Initiative.



Nathan Kelley, Vice President, High Voltage Cables and Systems Business Unit, Prysmian. Since joining Prysmian Cables and Systems in 1997, Kelley has been involved with research, design, installation and sales of High Voltage and Extra High Voltage power cable systems.  From 2002 until 2015, he managed the engineering team responsible for the High Voltage Business Unit’s activities and actively participated in many of the largest HV cable projects ever conducted in North America. Kelley was raised in Indiana, but received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University in 1995 and his MS in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2002. He also is Chair and Voting Member of the Power Delivery Intelligence Initiative.

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

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.


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).


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.


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.


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.