TOP 12 utility champions

In the large investor-owned electric utilities of North America

Published In: Intelligent Utility Magazine July / August 2012


IT'S TIME, WITH THIS ISSUE, FOR THE LARGE INVESTOR-OWNED electric utilities across North America to take their bows. We had a little bit of help this time around in picking some of those to highlight in our Top 12 for 2012, thanks to a raft of independent nominations.

Central Maine Power's AMI program director, LANEY BROWN, is responsible for leading the smart meter project for CMP's customer base of 625,000. CMP's AMI deployment overcame complex challenges including adapting to a challenging geographic service area, designing a flexible communication network and delivering on a bold roll-out timeline. The key to CMP's award-winning execution came from developing rigorous implementation plans early on, and partnering with innovative companies to deploy adaptable technology.

MARK BROWNING, vice president of IT at ComEd/Exelon, has championed the emergence of the intelligent utility for many years, both in his work at the utility and his focus on supporting industrywide education and a sharing of knowledge from utility to utility. A natural leader who is industry vision-focused, Browning is an Intelligent Utility favorite for his candor and his willingness to share his knowledge at industry events, as well as in webinars and magazine articles.

Pacific Gas & Electric's KEVIN DASSO, senior director of smart grid and technology integration, is responsible for developing strategy and policies for PG&E related to smart grid and T&D technology information. He leads the utility's team involving T&D, customer care, energy procurement and information systems and technology service departments, meaning his responsibilities also include PG&E's current and future distribution grid enhancement projects and distribution integration automation pilots.

ERWIN FURUKAWA is senior vice president of customer service for Southern California Edison, and is responsible for leading SCE's demand-side management programs, customer products and services, customer engagement and call center operations, field services, account management, customer satisfaction, and advanced metering. Furukawa also provides strategic leadership for the marketing and management of one of nation's leading energy efficiency programs.

NSTAR's LAWRENCE (LARRY) GELBIEN is director of the utility's smart grid program. He is responsible for electric system planning, transmission, substation and electric distribution design, and is also (in his spare time) evaluating electric battery storage technology, and holds three patents in distribution automation. Gelbien's nominator told us: "I feel he is a leader in the field of self-healing grids, and he had the opportunity to prove the benefit of his vision during last year's hurricane that hit New England. His power restoration metrics during the storm were impressive."

Back in 2010, when PPL Electric Utilities launched its smart grid project in Pennsylvania, MICHAEL GODOROV, now PPL's senior project manager, was project lead and manager of compliance for the project, and was instrumental in establishing the utility's smart meter plan, as well as leading advanced metering and data management operations. Godorov has held a number of leadership positions at PPL, including construction, marketing, distribution, power delivery and customer services.

BECKY HARRISON, Progress Energy's director of smart grid technology and research, was responsible for establishing Progress Energy's smart grid program for both its California and Florida service territories. Harrison has more than two decades' experience in the industry in distribution and information technology. She is also active within the broader industry's smart grid work, serving as finance chair on the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative's and GridWise Alliance's boards of directors.

GREGORY KNIGHT, CenterPoint Energy's division vice president of customer service, is responsible for the management of the utility's electric and natural gas call centers, customer service training and quality assurance, as well as gas credit and collections. His group manages the needs of more than 5 million electric and natural gas customers throughout six states. His refreshing approach to the needs of-and understanding of-the "new consumer" catapulted him to the top of the 2011 Knowledge awards in customer service, and to a place on this issue's Top 12 large IOU utility champions.

No IOU Top 12 list would be complete without the addition of LEE KREVAT, director of smart grid at Sempra Energy (and its subsidiary, SDG&E). His IT direction at the utility dates back to 2004, and he has been front and center in San Diego Gas & Electric's smart meter rollout, advanced distribution grid management, outage management, microgrid, energy storage, electric (plug-in) vehicle charging projects, leading the multi-department team responsible for the implementations. Krevat is also an unabashed cheerleader for the benefits of new technology deployments within the electric utility industry.

Pacific Gas and Electric's VAHID MADANI is the technology lead for advanced wide-area warning systems and system integrity protection schemes (SIPS), and is also responsible for protection and control standards and modernization at PG&E. A registered electrical engineer with nearly 30 years of academic and utility assistance, his latest assignment is deploying large-scale interconnected advanced warning systems, integrating synchrophasor technology into PG&E's energy management system, and developing synchrophasor-based adaptive protection and interconnected SIPS.

Hydro One's vice president of asset management, RICK STEVENS, developed the overall business strategy and business case for the deploying Hydro One's smart meter program, and also led Hydro One's smart meter/smart grid initiative, which involved the rollout of 1.2 million meters. In March 2012, the utility moved to assess the next generation of distribution equipment to replace its aged components, test new delivery models for electricity and validate the costs and benefits associated with its upgrading.

American Electric Power's TOM WEAVER, manager for distribution system planning, is a 34-year AEP veteran. He has covered everything from T&D engineering, metering and communications to customer service, line supervision and distribution planning.. He has been actively involved in developing and applying deployment plans for gridSMART technologies on the AEP distribution system since 2005. He is also active with EPRI as the utility chair of the distribution programs and is chair of EEI's planning, design and asset optimization working group


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