“Wax on, wax off”
-Sunday, March 4, 2018
Learning how to run WPTF in anticipation of Gary Ackerman’s departure on June 30 has been challenging. First, directing a trade association is a unique skill set. Even if you’ve been a member of one, there are few jobs that prepare you for it. It’s rather a combination of cruise director, mixed with college administrator with treasury responsibilities. WPTF, to its credit, is even more unique with perhaps the broadest-based membership in our industry and robust committee structure. Hence it is no wonder that I sometimes joke that Gary is Mr. Miyagi – though he has yet to ask me to “paint the fence”…
Three nights and two days inside hotel meeting spaces… that is the Winter NARUC meeting in DC. A gauntlet to be sure but there is no single event of which I know that brings together so many from industry and regulation in the energy space. It was also kind of my “coming out” party as “incoming” Executive Director of WPTF. For most of the time in the halls and receptions, I was tied to the hip with Gary Ackerman as we sought to speak with as many Western regulators and other folks of significance in our space.
She looked at me intently and said; "I know there are a lot of people who want electric markets to be just like any commodity market, but electricity is different”. While acknowledging the difference, I told my then-colleague, you rely upon the markets to set prices efficiently and to attract capital for investment and thus these markets HAVE to behave like other commodities.
“What the Hell is this?”, my CEO said as he was looking at a pro formafor financing a major acquisition. Twenty or so years ago, my company (US Generating Company – it would become part of PG&E National Energy Group) was bidding on the generating assets of New England Electric. My CEO was Joe Kearney, the best leader and smartest man I ever knew in the industry. A PhD graduate in nuclear engineering from MIT and a former developer of natural gas pipelines, he was also as facile as anyone I ever knew with finance… you know, how we get money to fund things.
The Sacramento “Car Wash”
-Monday, January 29, 2018
Well, I write this from a Peet’s Coffee shop in El Dorado Hills, CA on a grey day here in the foothills of the Sierras. I’m on my first trip out West and trying to see the Board members of WPTF in the Northern California area, meet with our consultants to get a handle on all the excellent work they are doing for our members and to see some folks at CAISO… But first let me share this photo (below) on my way out of Sacramento out to El Dorado Hills. I thought to myself… “Hmmm, if I just stay on 50 long enough, I’ll get to the exit for my house in Maryland… just before the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.”
"Who's the New Kid?"
-Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Scott Miller. As you may know, I am the incoming Executive Director of the Western Power Trading Forum (WPTF) and, while I’ll be working with Gary for the next 6 months to ensure a smooth transition, I am aware of the “big shoes” into which I am stepping. Gary and the members of WPTF have done an incredible job surviving and ultimately thriving in some difficult circumstances. Back in 1998 when WPTF was created – a year later I convinced my company (PG&E National Energy Group) to join – we all thought the growth of electric markets was going to be a linear path up. Well, for reasons we all understand and about which I won’t go into now, the markets didn’t quite evolve that way.