Accelerating Grid Modernization: Turning Crises into Investment Opportunity

Accelerating Grid Modernization: Turning Crises into Investment Opportunity

A Look at Utility Strategy, Vision, and Leadership in a New Age of Energy

September 1, 2020 | Online :: Central Time

The English-language proverb “necessity is the mother of invention” could not be more appropriate than it is today. Still knee deep in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and now navigating the effects of an economic slowdown, financial markets and public policy are at a crossroads. Planned capital investments by utilities on infrastructure projects to maintain and increase reliability and resiliency, coupled with aggressive public policy goals and the funding made available to support public-private partnerships and investments in clean and renewable energy technologies, offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With national and regional attention now focused on pandemic recovery and economic recovery and reinvention, job growth through investment in infrastructure is a top priority. An opportunity exists today to leverage public-private partnerships to create the clean energy economy that we have been talking about for years. We are at a pivot point where the investments made today through stimulus funding and private sector capital to recover and reinvent, will be with us for 50 or more years.

This distributed panel of industry leaders will explore the infrastructure investment opportunities available, address industry and financial market needs, opine on the role of regulation and regulatory changes needed to support economic recovery and reinvention, and discuss the importance and value of “smart” infrastructure investment.  

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss energy investments and portfolio management for utilities
  • Share executive summary of impacts to the grid over 2020
  • Outline a path forward in the areas of T&D growth and key utility focuses
  • Give insight into financial impact of COVID on the energy industry and long-term costs assessment
  • Discuss the challenges of providing safe, reliable, and clean electric service to customers
  • Hear how better load management practices have shifted regulations and policy improvements


Tuesday, September 1, 2020 : Central Time

10:45  – 11:00 a.m. :: Log In and Sound Check

11:00 – 11:10 a.m. :: Welcome and Introduction

Paul A. DeCotis, Sr. Director and Head East Coast Energy & Utilities Practice, West Monroe

Aaron Voss, Program Director, EUCI

11:10 – 11:25 a.m. :: Market Trends and Financial Assessment of Electric Industry

  • Ratemaking and utility cost recovery
  • Overview and projections of electric industry economy in 2021
  • Economic factors and analytics for electric industry growth

Lillian Federico, Research Director, S&P Global

11:25 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. :: Investments and Strategic Initiatives in the Midwest

  • Opportunities in the Midwest for renewable progress
  • Operational challenges and solutions AEP Ohio has commenced
  • Transmission asset policy and strategy
  • Grid infrastructure projects

Raja Sundararajan, President and COO, AEP Ohio

11:40 – 11:55 a.m. :: Retail Energy Providers and Clean Energy Vendors

  • View from boos-on-the-ground
  • Clean energy landscape and challenges and opportunities
  • Policy support and market needs

Travis Kavulla, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, NRG Energy

11:55 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. :: Break

12:00 – 12:15 p.m. :: Changes in US Electric Policy and BES Critical Infrastructure

  • FERC action and changes to IOU business development
  • Public Private Partnership Agreements and programming
  • Regulatory influence brought about by COVID-19

Philip Moeller, Executive Vice President, EEI

12:15 – 12:30 :: Impact on Regulations

  • Observed trends in utility investments
  • Role of productivity and efficiency improvement
  • Outlook for energy infrastructure investments
  • Clean energy trends

Dianne Burmann, Commissioner, NY State Public Service Commission

12:30 – 1:00 p.m. :: Leaders Roundtable

Discussion amongst executive utility leadership on grid investment and growth in the electric industry as well as how “smart technology” will come to shape the grid over the next five years. The panel will be highly interactive and welcome questions from our audience.


Moderator: Paul DeCotis, Sr. Director and Head of East Coast Utilities, West Monroe Partners


Lillian Federico, Research Director, S&P Global

Raja Sundararajan, President and COO, AEP Ohio

Travis Kavulla, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, NRG Energy

Philip Moeller, Executive Vice President, EEI

Dianne Burmann, Commissioner, NY State Public Service Commission


Raja Sundararajan, President and COO, AEP Ohio

Raja Sundararajan is president and chief operating officer for AEP Ohio and is responsible for all aspects of electric service for AEP Ohio’s 1.5 million customers.

He leads more than 1,500 employees with a focus on providing electric service, building a smarter energy infrastructure and delivering new technologies and custom energy solutions to customers.

Sundararajan has held several leadership positions since joining AEP in 2002. He served as vice president – Regulatory Services, leading AEP’s regulatory activities before 11 state regulatory commissions and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). He was also vice president – Transmission Asset Strategy and Policy; managing director – Transmission Business Strategy; managing director of Market Risk; and has held management positions in Treasury and Corporate Finance at AEP.

Sundararajan maintains several professional affiliations and currently serves as a board member of the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium and Smart Columbus. Actively investing in the community and energizing employees to create a brighter future together is at the core of his leadership philosophy.

Sundararajan has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India. He also has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from the University of Michigan and he completed the Executive MBA program at the University of Virginia.

Philip Moeler, Executive Vice President, EEI

The Honorable Philip D. Moeller is Executive Vice President, Business Operations Group and Regulatory Affairs at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI). EEI is the association that represents all of the nation’s investor-owned electric companies.

Mr. Moeller has significant responsibility over a broad range of issues that affect the future structure of the electric power industry and new rules in evolving competitive markets. He has responsibility over the strategic areas of energy supply and finance, environment, energy delivery, energy services, federal and state regulatory issues, and international affairs.

EEI’s member companies increasingly are focused on delivering innovative solutions that meet customers’ changing expectations. Mr. Moeller works with EEI’s member companies to identify policy solutions and business opportunities to better serve customers.

Prior to joining EEI in February 2016, Mr. Moeller served as a Commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), ending his tenure as the second-longest serving member of the Commission. In office from 2006 through 2015, Mr. Moeller ended his service as the only Senate-confirmed member of the federal government appointed by both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. At FERC, Mr. Moeller championed policies promoting improved wholesale electricity markets, increasing investment in electric transmission and natural gas pipeline infrastructure, and enhancing the coordination of the electric power and natural gas industries.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Moeller headed the Washington, D.C., office of Alliant Energy Corporation. He also served as a Senior Legislative Assistant for Energy Policy to U.S. Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA), and as the Staff Coordinator of the Washington State Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee in Olympia, Washington.

Mr. Moeller was born in Chicago and raised on a ranch near Spokane, Washington. He received a BA in Political Science from Stanford University.

Paul DeCotis, Sr. Director and Head of West, West Monroe Partners

Paul DeCotis is senior director and head of West Monroe Partners’ east coast Energy & Utilities practice, based in New York City. He leads the firm’s executive advisory and regulatory offerings and is an accomplished and respected executive and thought leader. Prior to joining West Monroe, Paul was managing director for contract oversight at Long Island Power Authority, and vice president of power markets, overseeing power generation, project development, contract management, integrated resource planning, including clean and renewable energy and demand response, and FERC and RTO market policy.

Paul was energy secretary for two New York Governors, chaired the State Energy Planning Board and was a member of the NYC Energy Planning Board. As the senior energy advisor to the governors, he oversaw strategy, policy, legislation, and implementation activities for the state’s energy agencies. Paul has over eight dozen professional publications dealing with energy industry and policy matters and serves on several national energy related Boards.

Lillian Federico, Research Director, S&P Global

Ms. Federico has been following the power and gas utility sector for more than 30 years, and the water sector for the last four years at Regulatory Research Associates, or RRA, which is now a group within S&P Global Market Intelligence. 

During her 30+-year tenure, she has contributed substantially to RRA’s Regulatory Focus research offering, and at different times, has held primary responsibility for the firm’s coverage of more than 20 state regulatory jurisdictions, including Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. She has also participated extensively in the firm’s production of topical special reports on various industry and regulatory issues and contributed meaningfully to the firm’s Financial Focus equity research effort. She spearheaded RRA’s content expansions into Federal regulation of the electric transmission and gas pipeline sectors, as well as state-level coverage of the water sector.

She is a 1987 graduate of Drew University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology/Business Management. She joined Regulatory Research Associates, then a stand-alone independent research firm, immediately upon her graduation from Drew. While employed by RRA, she was awarded an MBA in Financial Management from Pace University in 1992. RRA was acquired by SNL Financial in 2005 and became part of SNL Energy. In addition to myriad research responsibilities, Ms. Federico was part of the transition and integration of RRA into SNL, as a Senior Vice President of RRA. Ms. Federico was promoted to RRA President in 2011. Upon the acquisition of SNL by McGraw Hill Financial, later renamed S&P Global, her title was changed to Research Director for S&P Global Market Intelligence. 

Commissioner Diane Burman, New York State Public Service Commission

Diane X. Burman serves as a Commissioner of the New York State Public Service Commission (Commission). Her term runs through February 2024. As Commissioner, she serves on the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners’ (NARUC) Board of Directors and Chair of the Committee on Gas. She is also on NARUC’S Committee on Critical Infrastructure, the Committee on International Relations, the Subcommittee on Supplier and Workforce Diversity, the Special Subcommittee on Pipeline Safety and the Washington Action Committee. Ms. Burman is also Chair of the NARUCDepartment of Energy Natural Gas Infrastructure Modernization Planning Initiative. Ms. Burman serves as the Vice Chair of the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee. She is also a member of the National Petroleum Council. She had previously served as Chair of PHMSA’s Voluntary Information-Sharing Working Group. She obtained her B.A. from Molloy College, her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, and was admitted to the bar in 1992.

Travis Kavulla, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, NRG Energy

Travis Kavulla is vice president for regulatory affairs at NRG, working to ensure that energy markets continue to deliver value for electricity consumers. He joined NRG from the R Street Institute, where he led the think tank’s energy program. Previously, Travis served eight years as a commissioner at the Montana Public Service Commission, during which time he served as the President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and as a member of the advisory

council of the Electric Power Research Institute. He has also served on the governing body of one of North America’s largest electricity markets, the Western Energy Imbalance Market. Travis received his bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard University and a master’s also in history, at the University of Cambridge, where he was a Gates Scholar. Travis lives in Maryland with his wife and son.

Online Delivery

We will be using Microsoft Teams to facilitate your participation in the upcoming event. You do not need to have an existing Teams account in order to participate in the broadcast – the course will play in your browser and you will have the option of using a microphone to speak with the room and ask questions, or type any questions in via the chat window and our on-site representative will relay your question to the instructor.

  • You will receive a meeting invitation will include a link to join the meeting.
  • Separate meeting invitations will be sent for the morning and afternoon sessions of the course.
    • You will need to join the appropriate meeting at the appropriate time.
  • If you are using a microphone, please ensure that it is muted until such time as you need to ask a question.
  • The remote meeting connection will be open approximately 30 minutes before the start of the course. We encourage you to connect as early as possible in case you experience any unforeseen problems.


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