Leaders and innovators focus on the future

Jim Jones speaks at Great River Energy's grid modernization summit.

Great River Energy Vice President and Chief Information Officer Jim Jones addresses approximately 120 guests at the grid modernization summit.

Approximately 120 employees and leaders from Great River Energy and its 28 member cooperatives spent two days learning from leading utility, research and technology experts. They discussed key drivers of change in the electric utility industry – such as advanced grid technologies – rising customer expectations, distributed energy resources and the many visions of the industry’s future.

The event was hosted by a Great River Energy-member committee that has been focusing on grid modernization since 2014.

“This seemed like the future three years ago when we first started this initiative,” said Will Kaul, vice president and chief transmission officer of Great River Energy. “But the landscape is changing rapidly and we are now in the thick of it. Grid modernization better describes what we are doing.”

Education, awareness and assessment have been the key focuses of the effort so far. At the recent event, panelists from industry associations, the Tennessee Valley Authority, academic engineering programs and utility providers also discussed the potential impact of electric vehicles, microgrids, net metering and rate design, and time-of-use on grid operations.

Tennessee Valley Authority’s Director of Technology Innovation Gary Brinkworth encouraged attenedees: “You’re helping your members hear what’s pushing the future of the industry. Keep going.”

Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Director of Energy Solutions Alan Shedd called the event a “best-in-class example” of commitment to serving members well into the future.