As president and CEO of the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), Julia Hamm is an expert on grid decarbonization, among many other cutting-edge topics. Read more to understand her take on the evolution of the grid and how her organization is working to educate utilities.
By Claire Volkwyn, Smart Energy International
Volkwyn: Thank you for agreeing to be the headline speaker for the Decarbonizing the Grid Knowledge Hub at DISTRIBUTECH 2020. Why is this such an important topic for you?
Julia Hamm: Efforts to decarbonize our electricity supply, coupled with secular trends for EV adoption, IoT, solar, storage and other technologies, require a constant evolution of our industry. At SEPA, we recognize the need to convene the thought leaders and decision makers from across the electricity industry to share best practices, review the latest research and collaborate to develop solutions. Having a venue for industry leaders to have these conversations and to develop the roadmaps that chart the course is the reason we participate in DISTRIBUTECH International and why we put on our own Grid Evolution Summit each year.
Volkwyn: How are you supporting your utility members and how have their priorities changed over the past five years?
SEPA continues to provide unbiased research findings and education resources to help guide all of our members including more than 725 utilities, 36 state public utility commissions, and hundreds of solution providers – on their path to a clean and modern grid. The increased focus on climate, the growing availability of economical renewable generation and storage, electric vehicle adoption and the ability of customers to participate in the grid are forcing utilities and system operators to deal with a more distributed and increasingly complex energy world. SEPA is continually adjusting our focus and capabilities to address this new world.
What are the most important focuses for SEPA in the year ahead?
In order to deliver on our mission of a clean and modern grid, SEPA has identified four areas of focus – what we call pathways. They are Transportation Electrification, Grid Integration, Regulatory Innovation and Utility Business Models. Each of these pathways addresses a rich set of issues and opportunities important to achieving our long-term vision of a carbon free energy system.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing the utility sector today?
Decarbonizing the electricity supply while maintaining the reliability, affordability, safety and security that customers expect and that are so important to our society.
What is the one message you would like to share with SEPA members and attendees of DISTRIBUTECH International?
Decarbonization will happen, and SEPA is committed to providing the thought leadership, research and education resources necessary for our members to make it happen in a thoughtful and pragmatic way.
Julia Hamm is the Luminary for the Decarbonizing the Grid Knowledge hub at DISTRIBUTECH International. You can hear her speech, titled “Carbon-free Energy Future: How do we get there?” on Tuesday, January 28 from 10:30-11:00 in San Antonio, Texas. Register for the event here.
SEPA’s Grid Evolution Summit will take place in Washington, DC July 27-29, 2020. Learn more here.