General Sessions

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Monday, February 15, 2016

9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
General Session
Ballroom South
Welcome and Introductions
Hon. Travis Kavulla, NARUC President, Montana


Q&A with Norman Bay, Chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
President Kavulla will interview the FERC Chairman on the latest rulemakings as the regulator of wholesale markets, as well as survey Chairman Bay's thoughts on continuing regulatory debates on transmission planning, wholesale market design, and governance; the role of FERC vs. EPA; The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), and the hazy line separating the State and federal jurisdictions.

Moderator: Hon. Travis Kavulla, Montana


Grid Security: Three Perspectives
Panelists discuss what the security threat is, how the industry is informing itself, and what it is (and isn't) doing to counteract it.

Gen. Keith Alexander (Ret.), CEO and President, IronNet Cybersecurity
Nick Akins, Chairman, President, CEO, American Electric Power; Chairman, Edison Electric Institute
Marcus Sachs, Senior Vice President and Chief Security Officer, North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)



Tuesday, February 16, 2016

8:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
General Session
View Presentations 
Ballroom South
Is there a Path to Deep Decarbonization?
In the wake of the Paris Agreement, the standard talking point about the energy transition was one where a dependence on fossil fuels would give way to power from renewables, primarily wind and solar. Yet that presupposes that weather-dependent renewables are the solution to reaching a decarbonized world. Are they? Some argue renewables have already become “baseload,” and that the alternatives, such as nuclear, are too costly and risky. Others say variable energy resources will result in an overbuild of back-up resources and will lead us into to a blind alley in the path to “deep” decarbonization. Still, others claim that “deep decarbonization” is a flawed premise, because the Paris Agreement is unenforceable and the world is not likely to give up a reliance on cheap and plentiful fuel sources such as coal and natural gas. So, what would the right mix be? At what cost are we willing to decarbonize?

Three speakers will offer the following perspectives:
  • Renewable resources, primarily wind and solar, are the path to deep decarbonization;
  • The path to deep decarbonization requires resources like nuclear and carbon-sequestered coal, not just renewables;
  • Either approach to decarbonization is so costly that it is not going to work, notwithstanding the Paris Agreement.

Moderator: Rob Barnett, Senior Analyst, Energy Policy, Bloomberg Intelligence
Armond Cohen, Clean Air Task Force
Bryce Freeman, Administrator, Office of the Consumer Advocate, Wyoming Public Service Commission
Matthew McKinzie, National Resources Defense Council


Connecting with the FCC
Ajit Pai, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission: An Unscripted Dialogue.
Last year, NARUC heard from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Now, we'll hear from Commissioner Pai, who will discuss his view of everything from pre-empting State laws on municipal broadband development to the net neutrality regulation to inmate calling mandates—as well as a handful of items where he thinks common ground exists.


Safety First
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) mission is to protect people and the environment from the risks of hazardous materials transportation. Administrator Dominguez will discuss 2016 priorities to include the agency's commitment to safety, how they establish national policy, set and enforce regulatory standards, invest in innovation and education, and partner with state commissions to advance safety.

Panelist: Marie Therese Dominguez, Administrator, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration



Wednesday, February 17, 2016

9:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
General Session
Ballroom South
Sean Jones serves as the Deputy Coordinator for Power Africa, a federal interagency effort working to significantly increase access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa. The program works with public and private entities to decrease barriers to energy resources coming online and supports necessary reforms in regulatory and political structures to ensure the long-term viability of energy sectors. With the support of the United States Agency for International Development and other federal agencies, NARUC engages with partners in East Africa, Nigeria, and elsewhere to help create an enable environment for investment and growth. State commissioners and staff play an important role in NARUC’s efforts, serving as expert volunteers on the ground and using their skills to help their foreign counterparts tackle regulatory issues and solve problems.

Moderator: Hon. Travis Kavulla, Montana
Panelist: Sean Jones, Deputy Coordinator, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Power Africa


A Conversation with Ted C Koppel, author of Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath
When Ted Koppel published a book on cybersecurity four months ago, it catapulted the issue into the foreground of public attention. President Kavulla interviews Koppel on his book, why he became interested in the issue, and how to translate a technical issue into a matter for public consumption.

Moderator: Hon. Travis Kavulla, Montana


In this interactive cyber mutual assistance exercise, we will walk through a scenario where companies across utility sectors get hacked with malware. Audience members will play a role in determining how to react, how to communicate threat information, and how to recover from the event.

This workshop will take place in two parts. In the morning, you will experience the events as they unfold. You will be faced with decisions for how to address a time-sensitive cyber threat, how to figure out if you have the right resources to address the problem, and whether or not cybersecurity mutual assistance could help. During the afternoon session, participants will provide input and learn from one another about what can be done to mitigate the effects of a cyber attack, how to communicate across utility sectors, and what issues related to cybersecurity cost recovery exist.

Moderator: Miles Keogh, Director, NARUC Research Lab