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The Current

Author: We Stand For Energy

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We Stand For Energy, a project of the Edison Electric Institute, presents The Current, a podcast focused on providing policymakers with insights into the electric energy generation and distribution industry.
29 Episodes
On this week’s episode, The Current sat down for our very first interview on the social media platform Clubhouse to discuss the February winter storms that struck the South. Texas electricity consumers were particularly hit hard, with millions of Texans going without power in freezing temperatures for days. It could have been worse. The grid was just minutes away from being wiped out. The storm renewed focus on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), and its failure to prepare for and respond to the disaster. Ed Hirs, Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Houston and a bona fide expert on energy markets, sits down with Brad to discuss what happened and how to prevent this disaster from happening again. 
Cyberattacks are expanding and becoming ever more sophisticated, and the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline in May highlighted the scale to which these attacks can penetrate critical infrastructure and upend millions of Americans’ lives. Joining Brad this week to discuss the attack and what policymakers – and companies – need to be doing to prevent and respond to cyberthreats is former Texas congressman and cybersecurity expert Will Hurd.   
In this special edition of The Current, Brad sits down with three guests to discuss the different ways that government agencies and electric power companies prepare for and respond to wildfires. Jessica Gardetto, Chief of the Office of External Affairs at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), gives insights into the challenges of firefighting and how local and federal agencies coordinate with one-another. Then, two electric power industry experts join the conversation to discuss ways their companies address the threats from wildfires on their infrastructure and to customers: John Lee, Senior Director for Electric Distribution at Colorado-based Xcel Energy, and Jonathan Woldemariam, Director of Wildfire Mitigation and Vegetation Management at San Diego Gas and Electric. 
Brad sits down this week with Ralph Cleveland, Interim President and CEO of American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), to discuss AABE’s policy focus and its upcoming national conference, taking place virtually on May 25-27. The theme of this year’s conference is “Connecting the Dots,” and speakers include an array of experts from business, academia, and politics to speak about emerging policies, technologies, and trends in the energy industry. Learn more and register for the conference here. 
Todd Manuel, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Transformation at EEI, joins Brad to discuss what initiatives member companies are taking to strengthen diversity and inclusion in the ranks of the electric power industry, and how last summer’s racial justice events impacted the industry. 
Bhavani Amirthalingam, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Information Officer at Ameren Services, joins Brad to discuss the intersection between the electric power industry and telecommunications and what steps the industry is taking to boost access to broadband and the evolving smart grid. 
This week, Brad discusses the electric industry’s priorities with the new Congress and the Biden administration, particularly as they relate to clean energy. Joining Brad is Emily Fisher, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Clean Energy at EEI, who will discuss the issues facing the larger industry. Sarah Venuto, Vice President of Public Policy at Duke Energy, will provide perspective on how Duke is looking at these issues and how her company is setting long-term plans for clean energy and grid investments – despite the constantly shifting policy priorities in Washington.
This week, Brad sits down with Brian Wolff, Executive Vice President of Policy & External Affairs at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), to discuss the top policy priorities the electric power industry is watching with the new Biden administration and Congress, including Covid relief, infrastructure, broadband, clean energy legislation and much more. 
In our first episode of 2021, The Current dives deep into the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles, a  framework that factors into which companies investors support. To talk about ESG, Brad is joined by Steve Fleishman, Managing Director and Senior Analyst at Wolfe Research, and Richard McMahon, Senior Vice President of Energy Supply and Finance at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).
This week, Brad sits down with Sandra Safro, Partner at K&L Gates LLP. Sandi recently launched a hydrogen practice at her firm, and she joins The Current to discuss hydrogen as a source of energy and how it’s transforming industries. 
This week, Brad is joined by Eric Grey, Managing Director of Government Relations at EEI, to discuss the 2020 elections and what impact divided government may have on the Biden administration and federal policy-making.
This week, Brad is joined by Lawrence Jones, Vice President of International Programs at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), to discuss COVID-19’s global impact and how the electric industry is responding around the world.
This week, Brad sits down with Clint Odom, Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy at the National Urban League , to discuss issues related to social justice and race relations. Clint talks about what companies can – and should – be doing to promote dialogue on these issues and what role the electric industry and smart city policies have for bettering the lives of Black Americans and minorities.  
To help explain how electricity providers are expanding the use of electric vehicles, Brad is joined by James Campbell, Director of Innovation and Sustainability Policy at Rocky Mountain Power. Rocky Mountain Power and its partners are helping to make Utah an attractive place for EVs. James shares how his state can become a model as companies and policymakers in other states pursue expanding EVs.
In August, an historic heatwave resulted in rolling blackouts that left hundreds of thousands of Californians without electricity. To help explain what happened and how we got to this point, Brad is joined by Philip D. Moeller, Executive Vice President of Business Operations Group and Regulatory Affairs at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).
Millions of Americans resorted to working and studying from their homes as COVID-19 shut down offices and schools. The dramatic shift underscored that many families still lack access to basic broadband services, leading to businesses struggling and students falling behind their peers. Brad speaks with Houston Smith, Vice President of Government Affairs at Alabama Power, to discuss the electric power industry’s role in expanding access to broadband services. 
This week, Brad speaks with Donnie Colston, Director of the Utilities Department at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Donnie discusses how IBEW members, including 250,000 utility workers, are operating safely during the pandemic and what support membership would like to see from Congress. 
This week, Brad sits down with Roshan Patel and Marie Sanderson, Partners at 50 State, a bipartisan strategic government relations firm, to share their perspectives on how successful governors have been so far in responding to the coronavirus crisis and what challenges remain. 
As state governments face the financial shock due to COVID-19, Brad digs into the tools available for federal and state policymakers to offset their budget shortfalls. He is joined this week by Ben Ritz, Director of the Progressive Policy Institute’s Center for Funding America's Future, and his colleague, Brendan McDermott, Fiscal Policy Analyst at the center, to discuss the fiscal challenges that states must tackle. 
It’s been nearly four months since utility companies suspended disconnections and bolstered their customer support programs in response to COVID-19’s economic impact. This week, Brad speaks with Tara Oglesby, Vice President of Customer Experience for Ameren, to review how the St. Louis-based company serviced its customers’ evolving challenges and what lessons it is applying to its customer support model. 
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