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Supply Chain Risk

When China was caught hiding microchips on Supermicro motherboards, supply chain risks were quickly brought to our consciousness. As an electric utility, there are supply chain risks you should be aware of that might threaten your cybersecurity posture.

Elizabeth Wharton
VP of Operations & Strategy, Prevailion

Elizabeth is a technology-focused business advisor and attorney specializing in the development, security, and scale of emerging technologies including drones, smart cities, and autonomous vehicles. As VP of Operations & Strategy for Prevailion, she leverages over 10 years in information security to oversee the development and implementation of legal, policy, and strategic partnerships. She has advised and worked with small startups, independent security researchers, and multi-national companies on a variety of corporate, financing, public policy, and security related matters.

Prior to Prevailion, Elizabeth was the Senior Assistant City Attorney for the City of Atlanta responsible for advising Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (the World’s Busiest Airport) on technology policy and projects, including the first of its kind airport UAS Safety Risk Assessment on the integration of drones into airfield operations and development of UAS standard operating procedures. Elizabeth also served on the immediate incident response team for the City of Atlanta’s 2018 ransomware incident.

A recognized cyber security and privacy expert, especially at the intersection of public policy and business practice, she served on numerous national technology and information security regulatory working groups and has spoken at conferences ranging from SXSW to BSides Las Vegas to Cyber Security Atlanta. For two years, Elizabeth hosted the weekly “Buzz Off with Lawyer Liz” podcast and radio show, interviewing noted experts on IoT, drones, and cybersecurity technology, trends, and regulations.

A mentor for CyberLaunch VC’s startup accelerator and the immediate past-president of the Atlanta Chapter for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Elizabeth is also a volunteer with various STEM and robotics student organizations and competitions.

Business Intelligence & Analytics

Business intelligence platforms are finding their way into your business. SEDC has Report IQ, NISC has Mosaic and Microsoft’s Power BI platform can integrate with most any data source. We’ll look at the ways cooperatives are gaining intelligence about their business operations.

Marquita Culross
Data Systems Analyst, Carroll White REMC

Marquita is a Data Systems Analyst for Carroll White REMC in Monticello, Indiana. She has worked for the coop for 21 years. She has experience with using Crystal Reports, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access and some SQL to help her team achieve BI with different data applications.

Saturation of Distributed Energy Resources

With an ever-increasing penetration of solar installations, how are cooperatives handling a saturation of these distributed generation installations on specific portions of the distribution system?

Tim Huber
Engineering Manager, Norris Electric Cooperative

Tim has been with Norris for 19 years, currently as the Engineering Manager. He holds a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.


Cooperatives are showing increasing interest in unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e. drones) for assessing storm damage and performing visual infrastructure inspections. It’s important that you understand what it takes for your business to legally fly a drone and whether you’ll be able to gain the benefits you hope to.

Dan Gerard
Chief Technology Officer, Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives
Jeromy Miller
GIS/Mapping Technician, MJM Electric Cooperative
Will Platt
Engineering GIS Technician, Prairie Power, Inc.
Ryan Simmons
Electrical Engineer, Prairie Power, Inc.

Dan has served as Chief Technology Officer for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperative since June 2014. Prior to working at the AIEC, Dan held several positions at Springfield Clinic, such as Information Security Officer, Systems Administrator, and Systems Analyst, where he was employed for over 13 years. Dan has extensive knowledge in IT process management, server management, SAN architecture, networking design, and cyber security. As a CISSP, Dan is also focused on helping the members of the AIEC to increase their cyber security posture.

Jeromy began his career as a transmission and distribution lineman nearly 20 years ago. He transitioned to Engineering and GIS later. He currently manages MJM’s GIS systems as well as AMI, OMS, radio and microwave equipment, and still does some staking on special projects. He has been flying drones as a hobby for 3 or 4 years. He got licensed a little over a year ago and flies quite frequently, amassing well over 100 hours this year alone.

Will graduated from SIUC in 2004 with a BS in GIS/Cartography. He worked eight years for a small environmental company creating maps, diagrams, and 3D visualizations used as court exhibits. In 2012, he returned to the Midwest to work for Prairie Power as their GIS technician. Will operates PPI’s GIS system, performs draftsman duties, and acquires easements. Since 2018, Will has been a licensed UAS pilot.

Ryan graduated from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville in 2016 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. He began working at Prairie Power in January of 2017 as a project engineer, managing design, procurement, and construction of new substations and transmission lines. He became interested in drones after seeing a consultant use them to generate 2D and 3D aerials of a substation site, and he purchased one for personal use in 2017. In 2018, he attended AIEC’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Certification course and received his remote pilot license. As one of PPI’s two licensed pilots, he spearheaded development of their new UAS program, researching the hardware and software options on the market and implementing the proper procedures to keep PPI compliant with all applicable regulations and industry best practices. He has been a pilot or copilot on over 25 flights for PPI in 2019, and he has over 100 hours of flight time on his personal drones.

Energy Storage

Battery storage is becoming more prevalent and financially feasible, both for the cooperative and its members. Jo- Carroll Energy will share experiences from the pilot project conducted by Dairyland Power cooperatives. Details of battery chemistry, charging & discharging styles, and residential installation will be shared. Plan to leave this session with the desire to learn more about energy storage and the opportunities.

Dean Skinner
Manager of Engineering Services, Jo-Carroll Energy

Dean is the Manger of Engineering Services with Jo-Carroll Energy. In this role, Dean leads a team in technology aspects of SCADA, AMI, OMS and distribution automation. Dean has more than 20 years of experience with industrial control systems with time spent in manufacturing and utility sectors. Dean earned his Bachelor’s in Engineering from Kettering University and MBA from Indiana University.

Sponsor Session - InHand Networks

The Role of Cellular IoT Networks in the Grid

Utilities face pressure to continue to invest in new technologies to better serve their customers. New 4G / 5G cellular “Internet of Things” (IoT) networks from AT&T, Verizon, and others are an important part of a comprehensive strategy. Sam will explain the development of such networks, the advantages and drawbacks vs other technologies such as RF, Power Line Carrier, and Fiber, and talk about several real life applications and solutions that leverage these new cellular technologies to help solve customer issues.

Sam Watts
VP, Business Development – Energy Markets, InHand Networks

Sam is the Vice President of Business Development, Energy Markets at InHand Networks, a leader in Industrial IoT. Prior he served as a Vice President of Channel Development at Orion Energy Systems where he was responsible for all aspects of IOT/IOTT strategy and execution. Sam led the $200M Smart Grid division of HD Supply & Anixter for seven years, starting his career in Energy & Utility with IBM as a strategy consultant. Sam holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Elon University and is an MBA graduate of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. Sam resides in Atlanta, GA with his two young boys and enjoys sports, music, and the outdoors.

Sponsor Session - NRTC

The Importance of Wireless and Broadband Networks to a Cooperative

Mark Davis and Tim Smith of NRTC will examine how the latest wireless technologies can impact your Electric Cooperative. Incorporating the right wireless solution can have a positive affect on AMI , SCADA, DA and Broadband deployments in rural America.

Mark Davis
Sr. Regional Business Manager, NRTC

For over 20 years, Mark has helped Rural Electric Cooperatives navigate the vast technology changes in the Utility Industry. He has worked with cooperatives to evaluate and deploy solutions including PLC and RF AMI, SCADA, Demand Response and Distribution Automation. In addition, he has worked closely with numerous Satellite, Wireless, and Fiber Broadband deployments throughout the Great Lakes and Midwest. He is committed to helping Cooperatives find the right solution to meet their technology requirements.

Tim Smith
Wireless Business Manager, NRTC

Tim has over 35 years’ experience in wireless communications managing large scale projects and systems. Tim has worked with NRTC for the past six years on AMI projects, this includes site certifications, propagation studies, and all technical aspects of the systems. Tim also works as product manager for Fixed Wireless which includes system design and project management for Microwave and SCADA solutions as well as overseeing the 220MHz spectrum assets held by NRTC.

Sponsor Session - iRestore

Smartphone Apps to Replace Utility Paper Processes

iRestore will demonstrate its proprietary mobile platform that offers a suite of “out-of-the-box” smartphone apps with dashboard portals to digitize utility work in the field that is still being done predominantly on paper. iRestore’s products are quick to launch and can immediately improve worker and community safety, situational awareness, restoration time, work management, documentation, and community collaboration. Some of the iRestore products presented will be: First Responder, Street Light, Damage Assessment, Asset Inspection and Safety apps.

Michael Haeflich
Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, iRestore

Prior to joining iRestore four years ago, Michael had over 25 years of broad, utility-related experience including leadership and senior executive positions. Michael’s background includes, fossil & hydro generation engineering at Northeast Utilities, nuclear fuel & component procurement also at Northeast Utilities, energy trading & marketing at both TXU Energy and Select Energy, and emergency preparedness & coordination at Eversource. Michael graduated from NY Maritime College with a B.E. in Marine/Mechanical Engineering and with a U.S.C.G. engineering officer’s license to operate the propulsion plants of both steam and diesel vessels of any size.

Sponsor Session - New Cyber Source

Empowering Electric Cooperatives with Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Join Frank Seal from Scale Computing in discussing IT infrastructure. Electric cooperatives are challenged to provide quality services at low costs for their customers and technology plays a big role in meeting that challenge. In this presentation, sponsored by New CyberSource and Scale Computing, you will learn how hyperconverged infrastructure can:

  • Make IT infrastructure easier to manage
  • Provide greater high availability and uptime
  • Lower IT total cost of ownership
  • Ease deployment of technologies for Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and Fiber to the Home (FTTH)
  • and more!
Frank Seal
Senior System Engineer, Scale Computing

Frank is a Senior Systems Engineer for Scale Computing, where he guides clients on hyperconverged platforms. An IT industry veteran with over 20 years of experience and roots back to early x86 virtualization, he remains active on current strategies while also influencing emerging technologies. Recognized as a multiple year VMware vExpert, he maintains an active role within technical communities both locally and globally.

Sponsor Session - Eaton

AMI RF Mesh Network Overview

Rena Wang will provide an overview of the AMI RF Mesh network and how all the network components work together to form the network, methods of optimization, and various advanced technologies that are compatible with the solution.

Rena Wang
AMI Marketing Analyst, Eaton

Rena is an AMI Marketing Analyst at Eaton’s Energy Automation Solutions division. Her primary duties and responsibilities involve technical proposals and pricing, customer presentations and demonstrations, and forecasting and planning. She holds a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Minnesota and enjoys baseball and running in her free time.

Microsoft Licensing: "You Might Be Doing It Wrong"

The initial contact looks a bit sketchy, but when a representative from Microsoft is asking you to perform a licensing self-assessment, it’s not a great idea to ignore the call. We’ll hear first-hand experience and lessons learned from those who’ve performed licensing self-assessments.

Curt Barkey
Manager of Information Technology, Kosciusko REMC

Curt joined Kosciusko REMC in 2008. When he started working at KREMC, he was hired to begin the implementation of an aggressive five-year technology plan that included implementing a Geographic Information System, Outage Management, and Automated Metering Infrastructure as core technologies to Engineering and Operations.

Matt Ohmes
IT Manager, SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative

Matt is a 2003 graduate of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale with a Bachelor’s in Information Systems. He began his career in banking before moving on to public health. He has been in the cooperative utility sector since 2011.

Distribution Automation

Has your organization discussed or implemented distribution automation (DA)? Is it a technology pipe-dream or a practical problem-solver? You’ll hear more about the communication infrastructure necessary to support DA, the safety concerns and lessons you can we learn from those who have been implementing it.

Jim Glass
Manager of Smart Grid Development, EPB

Jim is the Manager of Smart Grid Development at EPB in Chattanooga, TN. His responsibilities include Distribution Automation, the rollout of EPB’s Automated Metering Infrastructure and Meter Data Management System, SCADA and Distribution Management Systems as well as Demand Management Technology. He is also responsible for EPB’s System Planning and Protection & Controls Engineering functions. Prior to joining EPB, Jim worked for Florida Power & Light Company for over 20 years, where he held various positions related to smart grid technology, control center management, and emergency preparedness. Jim received a BS degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Tennessee. Jim is a Member of DOE’s Microgrid Steering Committee. He is a member of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s (UTC) Electrical Engineering Advisory Board and an adjunct instructor at UTC.

Joey Greer
Account Manager, EPB Broadband Solutions

Joey with EPB Broadband Solutions helps to bridge the resources and expertise at EPB (Electric Power Board of Chattanooga) with communities and utilities that are working to deploy fiber optics and smart grid technologies. A native of Gainesville, Georgia, Joey graduated from Toccoa Falls College with a B.S. in Business Administration. Prior to his time at EPB, Joey worked with both state and federal elected official’s in a variety of different roles ranging from campaign management to constituent services.

Through his role in Tennessee U.S. Senator Bob Corker’s office in 2014, Joey was able to see the impact that EPB was having in the Chattanooga region and took a position as a Businesses Sales Executive working to support and provide service to the local businesses. Earlier this year with EPB’s focus to providing support and resources to other utilities, Joey joined the Broadband Solutions team to help maintain the high level of services EPB is known for with the communities it supports.

Joey is an active community member both in Chattanooga and nationally. He currently serves on the Public Policy Committee for both the Fiber Broadband Association and Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

Joey’s wife Danna is enjoying her role as COO of their home. They are proud parents of their son Ian.

Mapping Your Fiber Plant

Several cooperatives are utilizing and/or constructing fiber plant for field communications. It’s one thing to map the fiber route in your GIS, but how are organizations also mapping fiber splices and connectivity down to the port. Are there systems that provide operational benefits similar to those we’ve come to expect for our electric plant?

George Plisinski
Manager of Telecom Operations,
NineStar Connect

George is the Telecom Operations Manager at NineStar Connect, with responsibility for the engineering, construction, and installation of predominately fiber-based network infrastructure. In addition, George consults with cities, towns, municipalities and other partner organizations on strategies to establish and/or enhance broadband services in unserved or underserved rural areas. His 15+ years in various positions at NineStar (and its previous iteration, Hancock Telecom), has provided him with intimate systems knowledge in many broad disciplines involved in building and operating communications networks for delivering residential and business-class services, as well as, electric/water metering and grid operations. NineStar Connect is an Electric, Telecommunications, and (most-recently) a Sewer/Water member-owned, cooperative service provider with customers in 10 counties in Central & East-Central Indiana. George resides in Greenfield with his wife (Joyce) and two sons (Trey & Alek) and is heavily involved with many business and philanthropic organizations in the area.

Electric Vehicles

With the push towards electric vehicles in the US, what kind of systems/programs are cooperatives putting in place to further incentivize the adoption of electric vehicles and how are cooperatives going to be able to handle the ever-increasing demand being placed on their systems?

Andrew Horstman
Manager of Load Response,
Wabash Valley Power Alliance

Andrew is the Manager of Load Response at Wabash Valley Power Association.  Andrew has both an Associate’s and a Bachelor’s in Electronic Engineering Technology from ITT Technical Institute. Andrew has been with Wabash Valley Power since 2001 and has worked extensively with the SCADA system there as an Electronic Field Engineer.  As Manager of Load Response, Andrew oversees all Smart Grid, Demand Response, Distributed Generation, and Electric Vehicle initiatives for Wabash Valley Power. Andrew has updated Wabash Valley Power’s direct load control program called PowerShift, developed and implemented a Distributed Energy Management System (DEMS) to manage all the demand response event triggers and settlements.  Andrew also leads Wabash Valley Power’s CO-OP Solar program, a community solar program that provides Co-op Members access to solar energy.

Will Wireless Kill the Need for Fiber?

Fifth-generation (“5G”) wireless is a hot topic right now. Will wireless technologies like 5G and other P2P/P2MP solutions resolve our need for low-latency, high-speed communications in the field? Will cooperatives regret their stranded investments in fiber optics?

Tom Asp
Senior Communications & Automation Consultant,
Power Systems Engineering

Tom earned a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from North Dakota State University and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas – St. Paul, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in communication planning and business development for electric cooperative and public power systems. He is recognized as a nationwide expert in evaluating and offering recommendations regarding electric utility broadband communications systems. Tom has been actively involved with broadband market research, network feasibility analysis, broadband system design, and the preparation of financial statements and quantitative business plan analysis for cooperative electric, municipal, and public power clients for more 20 years. He also has extensive experience presenting to utility leadership, conducting needs assessment interviews, and facilitating stakeholder sessions.

Switching From One AMI System to Another

Many cooperatives are now at the point that they need to change out the first generation of smart meters. What goes in to the decision to upgrade with the same company, or perhaps move to a metering platform from another company?

Keith Jones
Director of Engineering and IT, Monroe County Electric Cooperative

In 2005, Keith joined the team at Monroe County Electric and today serves as their Director of Engineering and I.T. As Director of Engineering and I.T. Keith’s responsibilities include system engineering, I.T. administration, and special project management. He has been fortunate during his 14 years of employment to have served in many roles which allowed him to see how each task effects the organization as a whole, and in turn be an effective problem solver at the coop. Keith graduated from SIUE with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and is also a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Illinois. While not at the coop, he runs a small produce and egg farm with his wife and six children.

Brad Austin
Manager of Engineering, Egyptian Electric Cooperative Association

Brad has been with Egyptian since 2018. Prior to joining Egyptian, Brad held various roles at Tri-County Electric Cooperative, including Project Engineer, Director of Purchasing and Fleet, and Director of Member Services. Brad’s educational background consists of a BS in Electrical Engineering from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a focus on power distribution, generation and transmission.

Chris Bridges
Engineering Technician, Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative

Chris is an Engineering Technician at Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative. He joined RECC in 2014 to perform mapping, SCADA, staking, and to maintain AMI equipment. Prior to joining RECC, Chris had 20+ years in various gas and water utilities. He has a BS degree from Illinois State University.

Becky Grossner
CIS/AMI Administrator, Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative

Becky is currently the CIS/AMI Administrator at Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative. She has been with RECC since 2002. She has an Associates degree in Business Administration.

Leveraging Your SCADA System

How many co-ops have a SCADA system and are leveraging it? We’ll review the purpose of SCADA and what information we should be monitoring and responding to about our distribution system.

Christopher Stokes-Pham
Sr. SCADA/EMS Administrator,
Wabash Valley Power Alliance

Christopher is the Sr. SCADA/EMS Administrator at Wabash Valley Power Alliance and has been working with IT & OT systems for over a decade. Chris is also a proud US Navy veteran who operated & maintained the nuclear reactor and electrical distribution systems on board the USS Pennsylvania.

He holds a Master of Science in Computer & Information Systems Security from WGU Indiana & a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology from Thomas Edison State University. He holds a myriad of professional certificates including Certified Ethical Hacker & Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

Outside of work, you can find Chris gaming online under the pseudonym Kalrune Darksun or tinkering in his home IT lab. At least for now…

Power Quality Analysis

Power quality has always been an issue for utilities. However, with more and more Distributed Energy Resources coming online and effecting voltage and frequency, the need for solving these power quality issues is more apparent. How are some cooperatives currently addressing these issues?

Chris Mullins
Executive Vice President, Power Monitors, Inc.

Chris is Executive Vice President at Power Monitors, Inc. in Mt. Crawford, VA. Chris leads a company devoted to leading-edge product development to meet the needs of electric utilities and electricity end-users. His twenty-six years at Power Monitors have given him a deep background in electric power quality, power line communications, and electronic instrumentation design, and his work has resulted in patents in power line communications techniques, power quality instrumentation, and energy monitoring. Chris has been an active member of several IEEE standards groups and power line communication trade associations, and has authored over 70 whitepapers on many power quality topics. He holds a BS degree in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia.

They Won’t Build Grids Like They Used To

For the last century, changes to the electric transmission system have been incremental, with more powerful generators, higher voltage lines, more efficient trading, etc. The last decade has seen transformational change in these systems due to wind development, distributed generation, and demand management. The next decade will be full of solar farms and storage projects. In this session, Kevin will outline these changes and the engineering and technological challenges they present to traditional utility processes and markets, and the radical changes that will be needed across the industry to adapt to this new paradigm.

Kevin Suhanic
Executive Director of Portfolio Strategy, ACES

Kevin is Executive Director of Portfolio Strategy for ACES in Carmel, Indiana. Kevin has a broad background across many aspects of wholesale power markets and regulations. He is responsible for managing risk and optimizing outcomes for the long-term portfolios of several ACES’ Clients. He is also responsible for evaluating future market and regulatory developments and their impact on markets and, in turn, Client outcomes. These efforts also include asset valuation, commodity markets, transmission markets, financial analyses and litigation support. Kevin has also been involved in several major projects for Clients transitioning into nodal markets and also has been deeply involved with renewable resource procurement.

Kevin joined the Portfolio Strategy team at ACES after leading the ACES Financial Transmission group, where we oversaw congestion management and consulting activities, including power flow modeling for the Eastern Interconnect, WECC, and ERCOT and trading in the congestion markets. He also managed widely varied transmission and economic dispatch related consulting projects.

Kevin began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLC before joining ACES 2007. This included providing accounting treatment advice and implementing specific tax strategies. He is a licensed CPA (inactive) in the State of Ohio. Kevin holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration with a finance concentration from the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana. He is also Series 3 certified by the National Futures Association.