Last week, the GridWise Alliance hosted our annual conference, gridCONNEXT. After nearly two years of virtual meetings, gridCONNEXT 2021 was a welcomed opportunity for the GridWise Alliance to gather and reconnect in person, with virtual attendees also welcome and tuned into the schedule.
This was the first in-person event for many attendees, and after a proof of vaccination check at the door, we were all treated to a phenomenal run of show. Speakers brought their unique perspectives on grid modernization and represented a full set of views. On the policy and regulatory side, speakers included FERC Commissioner Allison Clements discussing system challenges, Special Assistant to the President John Rhodes highlighting Biden’s climate goals, Massachusetts Commissioner Patrick Woodcock sharing process on offshore wind, and Rhode Island Commissioner Abigail Anthony discussing infrastructure investment challenges.
On the industry side, just a few of the speakers included Ford’s Chief Sustainability, Environment, & Safety Officer Bob Holycross, who provided perspective on the electric vehicle market, and Google’s Carbon Free Energy Lead Maud Texier, who shared their plans for achieving 24/7 energy.
We also shook things up this year, both by expanding the conference conversation to include topic areas new to gridCONNEXT and by testing out new presentation formats. Rose McKinney-James and Carolyn Green shared their paths to leadership, highlighting ways that everyone can support a diverse and inclusive workforce and emphasizing the benefits of mentoring and sponsoring rising talent. Format-wise, we didn’t hesitate to get a little spicy: Lee Krevat interviewed U.S. DOE’s Loan Program Office Director Jigar Shah over five increasingly fiery hot sauces. Then, after an introduction of a new GridWise project, the Technology Portfolio, a lightning round series of six 15-minute talks highlighted member efforts that touched on various grid technology functional areas.
The conference ended with a members-only workshop on infrastructure and grid investments with multiple DOE staff: Patricia Hoffman (Office of Electricity), Kelly Speakes-Backman (Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy), and Sam Walsh and Avi Zevin (General Counsel)
See the full agenda and list of speakers from GridConnext here.