The Next 75 Years: Let the Journey Begin
Elliot Mainzer, Deputy Administrator: You know it’s an incredibly dynamic time in our
industry. Suzanne Cooper, Vice President, Bulk Marketing:
There are a lot of things changing in the market.
Larry Bekkedahl, Senior Vice President, Transmission Services: I’ve never seen as active as it
is today. Robin Furrer, Vice President, Transmission
Field Services: We’re no longer operating the system that we did 75 years ago.
Terry Oliver, Chief Technology Innovation Officer: Everything moves faster.
Greg Delwiche, Senior Vice President, Power Services: We are at the emergence of a new,
more complicated system. Robin Furrer: The demands on our system and
the profile of how electrons are used have radically changed.
Suzanne Cooper: It’s an exciting time to be at Bonneville.
[On screen text: Change] Vickie VanZandt, Western Electricity Coordinating
Council: The West doesn’t have a full-blown market except in California and Alberta.
Elliot Mainzer: There’s been an emerging interest in an energy imbalance market.
Larry Bekkedahl: If we can find new ways to provide the energy and/or the capacity into
our systems through a market approach, then by all means if that’s more efficient and
better utilization of the assets we have today then we should be pursuing that.
Greg Delwiche: With the proliferation of more wind in the region there undoubtedly will
be markets that will mature over time and present opportunities for us to gain more
value out of the hydrosystem, which is incredibly flexible and adept at being able to produce
those types of products. Suzanne Cooper: Natural gas resources set
the marginal price for electricity. Generally, that’s why you see wholesale electricity prices
follow the trend in gas prices. Elliot Mainzer: And we continue to be an entity
that under most water years has a significant surplus and sells in to these wholesale markets.
And to the extent to which those prices are going down our secondary revenues come down
as well. Greg Delwiche: All of that adds up to lower
prices, which one hand are good for consumers, but on the other hand we need to carefully
manage our costs. [On screen text: Changing Markets]
Larry Bekkedahl: For the 1980s, the 1990s, even in to the early 2000s, electronics was
sexy. Utilities, that’s boring. Now what we’re seeing is a real interest of where does energy
come from and how do we utilize it the most efficient way.
Elliot Mainzer: Technology creates both huge opportunities and risks as our economy becomes
more digitized, as our utilities become more connected to each other and there’s more interoperability.
The amount of potential exposure and vulnerability to hacking and cyber security problems increases.
Randi Thomas, Manager, System Operations: We’re bringing in thousands of pieces of data
in a second. The amount of information that we have is just exploding.
Terry Oliver: That sort of visibility is the kind of change that technology will bring.
Suzanne Cooper: Technology has allowed us to automate some processes. We’re able to
pull data from a Cal ISO [California Independent System Operator Corporation] database so that
we can look at their hourly prices on a historical basis, which helps with our market intelligence.
Larry Bekkedahl: If we listen to the new CEO of IBM, it’s not what you know in the future.
It’s going to be what you share. And that’s all about data.
Robin Furrer: So there’s a lot of new technology that helps us really pinpoint what exactly
is going on the grid at any point in time. [On screen text: Technology]
Greg Delwiche: We are really natural resource stewards. It’s a responsibility that we have
to manage that natural resource in way that not only is looking at power value, and maximizing
that, but at the same time understanding what our obligation are in mitigating for the effects
of power production. Steve Oliver, Vice President, Generation Asset
Management: Dealing with the impacts that the dams have had on the salmonid species
has become the key driving factor besides flood risk management on the system
Suzanne Cooper: Responding to legislation that’s aimed at reducing carbon emissions
is a new development for us. Bonneville’s really been a leader in marketing in to California
under their new cap and trade rules. Larry Buttress, Executive Vice President,
Internal Business Services: Clearly, cyber security is going to continue to grow and
develop into something that we have to stay on top of.
Elliot Mainzer: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is placing very, very high priority
on renewables integration, new markets, transmission expansion, demand response and ancillary services.
And they really operate under a sense of urgency and a sense of really wanting to see the nation
make progress, and that has translated to some significant pressures on us.
Steve Oliver: My hope is that the political, policy leaders, along with the technology
and utility leaders will be able to find a way to have the correct generation operating
on the system that creates the greatest benefit economically, as well as meets environmental
and power interests, reliability interests. Randi Thomas: Well, many of us are familiar
with the outage that took place in California and Arizona in September of 2011. It started
with a simple event and through a series of other gaps it continued to grow, which resulted
in millions of folks losing their power. And it happened within 11 minutes.
Terry Oliver: The changing regulatory environment in the face of the southwest blackout meant
that we had to be sharper about being able to do state estimation calculation. We had
had a project in our portfolio for about four years already that did just that. So when
the new regulatory requirement came through, Bonneville was all ready.
Larry Bekkedahl: WECC, as a result of the southwest outage, is now having to separate
themselves into two entities because they could not, as a compliance officer, monitor
the other side of the house which was the regional coordinator.
Robin Furrer: What’s really important and fundamental to us is the why behind compliance.
Compliance is there for a purpose and is something that we truly believe in. And it’s there to
create greater reliability. Right, at the end of the day we’re all about delivering
electrons. We are public servants and with that comes regulators who want to ensure that
we are doing that. But that does require us to be much more tighter on our game than we
used to be. [On screen text: Compliance & Regulation]
Greg Delwiche: The age profile and the pending retirement of the Baby Boomer generation in
our industry as a whole is a major risk factor. Elliot Mainzer: The whole idea of asset management,
and in particular, capital prioritization, and getting really, really smart and disciplined
and focused about the way we’re deploying our capital is going to be a major strategic
thrust for the agency. Finding ways to increase our borrowing authority from the federal government
— chances to do that in this political environment are very, very, very slim. We’re going to
really have to prioritize where we put our chips.
Larry Bekkedahl: We’ve been the backbone for the Northwest electric grid for over 75 years.
And that’s not just poles and wires and transformers. It’s people. So that backbone we want to continue
for the next 75 years. Randi Thomas: You can’t just focus on modernizing
the grid. You still need to make sure that you’re maintaining the wires and the poles
and the transformers and the relays that are the backbone of that infrastructure to ensure
that when you need them to operate they’re there and functioning.
Robin Furrer: We have very high-technology industry that’s coming in. And also an expectation
from the people that receive our energy that it’s not just okay to turn the lights on anymore.
They want to turn the lights on and make sure that they’re Wi-Fi works and make sure there
isn’t any interference in their high technology that people have in their homes and their
markets. So the quality of power that we’re putting out there is more important than ever.
Steve Oliver: Because of aging infrastructure in both the hydroelectric system as well as
the nuclear project we’re are going to have to continuously increase the amount of investment
that we’re making to keep that core base of power available in the future.
[On screen text: Assets & Investments] Elliot Mainzer: The electricity industry and
the power sector are just one of the most central underpinnings of day to day life.
It just fills me with meaning and excitement and enthusiasm and interest. And the ability
to influence the lives of millions of people; it’s just a huge opportunity.
Larry Bekkedahl: To me, it’s exciting to see the changes coming. Think about how we can
proactively get ahead of the change and also how do we apply technology at the same time
to make sure that it can be as effective as possible.
Greg Delwiche: This is great, challenging, exciting work.
Robin Furrer: It’s really an exciting time for us to deliver a lot more with what we
already have. [Music]
[On screen text: The Next 75 Years]