Texas Power Reliability Conference

Texas Power Reliability Conference

July 18-19, 2019 | Austin, TX

The Texas power market faces challenges and opportunities in keeping continuous grid operations. After surpassing peak hourly load in 2018, ERCOT customers survived the summer with the lowest reserve levels in 10 years. Fifth in the nation for solar capacity, Texas’ rapidly increasing renewable mix raises questions about how the power grid will be able to reliably generate electricity as prices approach zero. How will municipalities maintain power in unfavorable weather conditions as coal and natural gas plants close without being replaced due to unfavorable economics?  Battery storage is a promising solution, but it is a technology that still needs to be developed.

Renewable energy means more customer participation on the distributed grid. Two-way traffic on transmission wires raises concerns about coordination, and external agents producing powers creates security concerns. How can power companies monitor the physical and cyber security of generation resources when they don’t own the assets?

Extreme weather conditions continue to pose a threat to power companies, causing unplanned outages that must be handled immediately. Underground transmission lines are one possible solution. Microgrids are another option to minimize the impact of regional emergency outages.

Taken together, utilities, independent power providers and T&D companies have a myriad of new developments to consider in their efforts to ensure that power and transmission operations are continuous. The Texas Power Summit provides a forum for leaders to share intelligence on the best route forward.

Learning Outcomes

  • Prepare for legislative and regulatory changes on the ERCOT market
  • Plan for impacts that renewables will have on public power providers
  • Address transmission congestion caused by increased reliance on renewables
  • Discuss the implications of defining battery storage as a generation or T&D asset
  • Assess the future of renewable energy based on past and present trends
  • Analyze how solar power will affect the market
  • Create a behavior model for a changing market dynamic
  • Examine how microgrids can be used for grid resiliency
  • Leverage partnerships to protect critical infrastructure



EUCI is accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and offers IACET CEUs for its learning events that comply with the ANSI/IACET Continuing Education and Training Standard. IACET is recognized internationally as a standard development organization and accrediting body that promotes quality of continuing education and training.

EUCI is authorized by IACET to offer 0.8 CEUs for this event and 0.3 CEUs for the workshop.


Requirements for Successful Completion of Program

Participants must sign in/out each day and be in attendance for the entirety of the conference to be eligible for continuing education credit.

Instructional Methods

Case Studies and Power Point presentations will be used for all learning outcomes


Thursday, July 18, 2019

8:30 – 9:00 a.m. :: Registration and Continental Breakfast


9:00 – 9:45 a.m. :: Regulatory Update

ERCOT will now implement Real-time co-optimization (RTC). In a world of innovative technologies how will this change the overall and ancillary services markets? Will the suppliers of ancillary service change as well as the products offered?  Inherently in implementing RTC is where is ERCOT? And, what is needed to further integrate storage and other innovative technologies that are surely on the horizon. We will discuss what has been completed and what still needs to be solved for these technologies to be integrated into the markets.

  • What does real time co-optimization mean to the market?
  • Providing ancillary services in ERCOT
  • 2019 Legislative session wrap up: what passed and other key takeaways  

Robert Helton, Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs, Engie North America

Charlie Hemmeline, Executive Director, Texas Solar Power Association


9:45 – 10:30 a.m. :: How Future Industry Developments May Impact Public Power       

There is no doubt that the electric industry is changing. There are many shifts occurring including: transportation electrification; smart homes, businesses and cities; and generation decentralization just to name a few.  Many electric cooperatives see these transitions coming and are preparing to meet the needs of their members for decades to come.  Ultimately, as cooperatives are owned and governed by the members they serve, the business model is well-suited to continue to meet the needs of the members and owners as the electric industry changes.

  • A look at expected industry changes
  • Definitions of DSO, EI, DER, EaaS
  • Preparing for the future

Cameron Smallwood, CEO, United Cooperative Services

Erika Bierschbach, Director, Market Operations & Risk Management, Austin Energy

Jolly Hayden, Consultant (Fmr Golden Spread Electric Coop)

10:30 – 11:00 a.m. :: Networking Break

11:00 – 11:45 a.m. :: Addressing Transmission Congestion due to Increasing Renewables: Bearkat Transmission Loop (Case Study)

There has been significant transmission congestion occurring at strategic points in West Texas as more renewable generation is being built.  While this congestion can be ordered as a solution to transmission security, it negatively affects transmission adequacy.  A transmission expansion project was approved by the ERCOT Board that will address congestion and improve system reliability.

  • Roughly 30-mile 345-kV transmission line expansion in Glasscock County
  • Loops in the 345-kV radial line to the WETT Bearkat switching station
  • Several options passed economic payback threshold
  • Long term societal benefits used to select project from options
  • CCN to be filed by early next year

Wayne Morton, CEO, Wind Energy Transmission Texas


11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. :: Battery Storage: Generation or T&D Assets?

A seminal case before the Texas Public Utility Commission, which has now become a rulemaking, and may be considered for legislation, will answer this key question and could have a tremendous impact on how the ERCOT market operates. Opponents of this motion expressed concern about the fairness of costs of Unaccounted-for Energy (UFE) being uplifted to the entire ERCOT market and displacement of traditional generation dispatch (and the related effect on price formation resulting from peak shaving). Supporters argued that it should be allowed because of enhanced efficiency, reliability, and cost-savings to customers.

Can a transmission & distribution utility own and operate battery storage facilities for purposes of reliability operations?

Michael Macias, Vice President of Operations, American Electric Power

Thomas Tynes, Director, CleanTX

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. :: Group Luncheon

1:30 – 2:15 p.m. :: Past, Present and Future of Renewable Energy

What are the key drivers that will create additional wind and solar generation capacity additions over the next 5 years. The speaker will provide perspectives from past, present and future development of wind generation trends and also provide an outlook on the future of the wind, solar and fossil generation mix.

  • What is the future of coal and natural gas in Texas?
  • ERCOT interconnection queue – investigating facts versus fiction?
  • What will drive the future of real MWs on the grid?
  • Renewable energy resource versus grid access?

Ward Marshall, Senior Director of Business Development, Pattern Energy

2:15 – 3:00 p.m. :: Increasing Reliance on Solar Power

Utility-scale solar is taking off in Texas, with several GWs of PPAs executed in 2018 and 2019 for a wide variety of offtakers. Slower than wind to arrive in the Lone Star State, solar is forging its own path based on its unique characteristics. It offers a strong value to end users due to the high correlation of solar production and power prices, and its modular nature allows developers to respond to congestion price signals by siting closer to load.

  • What do different types of customers want in a solar PPA?
  • What lessons can be learned from the success and challenges of wind in Texas?
  • How will Texas avoid the California duck curve?
  • How does the ITC structure impact the way solar interacts with the market?

Jacob Steubing, Director, Origination and Structuring, Recurrent Energy

3:00 – 3:30 p.m. :: Networking Break

3:30 – 4:15 p.m. :: Creating a Behavior Model for Best Practices in Changing Market Dynamics

The electric industry has changed tremendously over the last 10 years with new demands for renewable energy, advanced technology, and new regulations. Organizations operating within electric markets face the challenge of adapting to these changes from an organizational perspective. By analyzing the behavior of personnel working within the industry, leaders make decisions to create either competency or incompetency within their work groups. Questions to explore during this session:

  • What data do you need in order to make informed decisions?
  • Will you need to design or build new applications for new equipment?
  • What knowledge will your organization need in order to be successful?
  • Will you expect existing employees to become SME’s on the new equipment or will you hire new experts?
  • How will you motivate personnel to engage with new demands for success?

Brian C. Legg, Doctoral Candidate, Organizational Leadership; Chairman – Human Performance Improvement Task Force (HPITF), ERCOT

4:15 p.m. :: End of Day One

Friday,  July 19, 2019

8:30 – 9:00 a.m. :: Continental Breakfast


9:00 – 9:45 a.m. :: Microgrids as a Tool for Resiliency: UT Austin Microgrid Load Management System

The University of Texas at Austin Campus has been growing at an average of 2% in the last 15 years. Despite this growth, high levels of reliability, and increased efficiencies are achieved via the Campus Microgrid load management system. This session describes UT Austin microgrid components, network, and control functions that make this system unique in achieving those efficiency and reliability levels and not dependent of the Texas grid. It also covers how UT Austin can potentially assist the grid when power is needed during summer peak hours.

Roberto Del Real, Associate Director for Energy Management and Optimization, University of Texas

9:45 – 10:30 a.m. :: Critical Infrastructure Protection Case Study: Austin Energy NERC Audit

Austin Energy went through a NERC CIP audit in Q2 2019. The speaker will describe the process to prepare for the audit and provide lessons learned. He will share what evidence worked and what evidence led to follow-up questions by the auditors. He will also share any recommendations from the audit team.

  • Inherent risk analysis
  • Internal controls evaluation
  • Audit package
  • Off-site audit
  • On-site audit
  • Audit report

Andrew Gallo, Director, Corporate Compliance Program, Austin Energy

10:30 – 11:00 a.m. :: Networking Break

11:00 – 11:45 a.m. :: Leveraging Partnerships to Protect Critical Infrastructure

As the municipal energy provider for the San Antonio area, CPS Energy is in a unique security ecosystem that includes a long-time military presence and the nation’s second largest cyber security hub, serving as a home to a number of military cyber defense missions, intelligence agencies, cyber-related commercial and defense industry firms.  CPS Energy works closely with a number of key strategic partners to ensure it is able to play its part within this security ecosystem by providing a safe, secure and resilient supply of energy its customers.  These partnerships have been cultivated with government agencies at the state, federal and local level, law enforcement agencies, industry and educational institutions. 

CPS Energy will present its own experience and share how its partnerships have resulted in improvements in its following key areas:

  • Intelligence & analytics
  • Emergency preparedness & response
  • Workforce development
  • Information & best practice sharing

Shanna Ramirez, Director, Integrated Security, CPS Energy

11:45 a.m. :: Texas Power Summit Adjourns


Understanding the Human Factor in Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection

Friday, July 19, 2019


Modern Bulk Electrical Systems have never seen levels of critical infrastructure protection akin to those in currently in place around North America. Unfortunately, it seems those who seek to sew discord on the power grid are still finding access in ways that can completely negate the advanced technology we put in place. In recent years for every step forward we take in technology, end-user negligence takes us two steps back. The North American Electrical Reliability Corporation (NERC) has established multiple standards that guide policy writing to guide end-users, planners, and other personnel in safe use, but having a policy in place is simply not enough; end-user’s must be aware of the true power of their access.

Over the last 10 years, (particularly in 2013, 2015, and 2016 and on a local level in 2018 and 2019) attacks on utility entities around the world have become far more prevalent than ever before. In 2013 a generation substation in Metcalf, California was the target of a coordinated sniper attack in the early morning hours. In both 2015 and 2016 the national power grid of the Ukraine was compromised and shut down. In 2018 the communication platform for a natural gas production and distribution company in the Permian Basin area of Texas was compromised and infiltrated. So far in 2019, Pedernales Electrical Cooperative has reported multiple social engineering attacks focused on compromising customer payment data.

According to Scott Stewart (2017) of Stratfor, “One of the foundational precepts of Stratfor’s security analysis is that as security measures become more effective, people increasingly become the weakest link in a security system” (para. 4). As cyber and critical infrastructure attacks become more prevalent and more brazen, one certainty is we cannot engineer our way out of these threats. Instead we must create a culture of awareness, one where our end users recognize the value of the control they possess. From System Operators and Engineers, HR Professionals, Accountants, and CEO’s; everyone must be aware of the power of access.

Creating such a culture means that every member of the staff must understand the proverbial why behind the how when it comes to cyber security and critical infrastructure protection. First, we begin by educating our staff on how hackers exploit the human factor discussed by Stewart; the targets, and the surprising social engineering tactics used to gain information. Second, we must discuss recent real-world examples of attacks and breaches against the utility industry and the North American Power Grid. Finally, we must discuss ways to change our behaviors and actions, and how we respond to events as they occur in real-time.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Effectively assess “the human factor” in cyber security
  2. Recognize and respond to cyber filtration as an end user
  3. Protect assets using the principals of Human Performance Improvement (HPI)
  4. Identify where behavioral change is required as technology changes
  5. Examine the “blame cycle”
  6. Create a strong cyber awareness culture

Instructional Methods

Case studies, PowerPoint presentations, classroom exercises, etc

Workshop Agenda

12:30 – 1:00 p.m. :: Workshop Registration

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. ::  The Human Side of Cyber Security

With every advancement in technology meant to protect our cyber systems, end-user neglect has the power to negate updated hardware and software applications. Emerging trends provide a glimpse into where we are failing and the toll of those failures. NERC requires our access be a combination of three things: something we are, something we have, and something we know; still, each of can be easily compromised with the right tactics. Managers and supervisors must be aware of modern social engineering tactics, and how successful hackers opt to exploit the human factor in their campaigns to breach networks.

  • Exploiting the Human Factor
  • How Power Grids get “Hacked”
  • Real-Time Discussion: Houston among Targets of North Korea Hacking Campaign (3/4/19)

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. :: Human Performance Improvement

In the event of a cyber intrusion, the end-user is the first line of defense. The actions the end user takes can have a significant impact on stopping the event or potentially making it worse. Our end-users must be familiar with what is expected of them and understand that management and supervisors trust their decisions. In order to begin this process, managers and supervisors must first understand Human Performance Improvement.

  • Recognizing and Responding to Cyber Infiltration as an End-user
  • The Principles of Human Performance Improvement (HPI)
  • Real-Time Discussion: Electric Grid Attacks Costs $10 Billion a Year (2/27/19)

3:00 – 3:30 p.m. :: Networking Break

3:30 – 4:00 p.m. :: Creating a Culture of Human Awareness

Reliable cyber defense is born of a culture of human awareness in which the end user understands the impact of their access and control. Creating such a culture requires managers and supervisors to understand organizational processes, and how those processes are affected by response to human error. Critical to understanding current culture and identifying where change is necessary, means understanding the blame cycle. Knowing the relationship between organizational processes, human error, and managerial response will enable decision makers to implement better HPI measures and create a strong cyber awareness culture.

  • Organizational Processes, Human Error, and the Blame Cycle
  • Implementing Human Performance Improvement (HPI)
  • Real-Time Discussion: Cybersecurity Threats to US Infrastructure Warrant ‘Moonshot’ Response (2/26/19)

4:00 p.m. :: Post-Conference Workshop Adjourns


Joshua Aldridge, Chairman – Operations Training Working Group, ERCOT

Josh Aldridge is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Engineer with over 20 years of experience in power system operations, physical and cyber security, and leadership development and ergonomics. His assignments during active duty include Regimental Utilities Chief, Curriculum Manager of Basic and Advanced Electrical Operations Courses at Marine Corps Engineer School, Operational Security Analyst, and International Power Grid Improvement & Assistance Liaison. During his last tour as a U.S. Marine, Josh served as the Facilities Engineer for Camp Kinser, aboard Marine Corps Bases Okinawa, Japan where his duties included the daily utilities operation of the island’s foremost logistics encampment. Here he further honed his skills in leadership development, power system operation, and cyber security against daily threats.

After retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps, Josh continued his career with Martech Training Services in Houston, TX.  During his time with Martech, Josh created and delivered both online and instructor led content in Critical Infrastructure Protection, Physical and Cyber Security, System Operator Development, NERC compliance, and System Operations Process Improvement. Josh’s abilities were called on across North America, the Middle East, and across islands in the Caribbean among others.

Josh currently serves as a System Operations Trainer, and recently served as the Chairman of the ERCOT Interconnection’s Operations Training Working Group. Josh’s current duties include research and development of material used in continuing education of Power System Operators and Operations Support personnel, ERCOT operator development program lead, system protection simulation research and development lead, and researcher on ERCOT’s IROL and SOL methodology.


Erika Bierschbach, Director, Market Operations & Risk Management, Austin Energy

Roberto Del Real, Associate Director for Energy Management and Optimization, University of Texas

Kip Fox, President, Electric Transmission Texas, American Electric Power

Andrew Gallo, Director, Corporate Compliance Program, Austin Energy

Jolly Hayden, Consultant (Fmr Golden Spread Electric Coop)

Robert Helton, Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs, Engie North America

Charlie Hemmeline, Executive Director, Texas Solar Power Association

Brian C. Legg, Doctoral Candidate, Organizational Leadership; Chairman – Human Performance Improvement Task Force (HPITF), ERCOT

Ward Marshall, Senior Director of Business Development, Pattern Energy

Wayne Morton, CEO, Wind Energy Transmission Texas

Shanna Ramirez, Director, Integrated Security, CPS Energy

Cameron Smallwood, CEO, United Cooperative Services

Jacob Steubing, Director, Origination and Structuring, Recurrent Energy

Thomas Tynes, Director, CleanTX


ATT Executive Education and Conference Center

1900 University Ave

Austin, TX 78705

Reserve your room:

please call 1-877-744-8822, Ask for the EUCI July Meeting Room Rate.

Click here to book online

Room Block Reserved For:

Nights of July 17 – 18, 2019

Room rate through EUCI:

$199.00 single or double plus applicable taxes
Make your reservations prior to July 8, 2019.

Venue Information

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