Under Forty, Working From Home

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Fortnightly Under Forties and more

Fortnightly Magazine - June 2021

Over the last fourteen months, how many times have you been to the office? How many times have you flown to an industry conference or a business meeting? Indeed, how many times have you participated in any meeting in which you and the others were there together in a room, rather than "together" on Zoom, Teams, or WebEx?

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In my own case, I've generally been going in every two weeks during the past few months of this damn pandemic. Joe, Alex, and I get the chance to touch base, and maybe Lori too. We go out to a socially-distanced lunch. And well, that's kinda it.

I've haven't taken a flight this whole time. Not even once since I stepped off my return plane from New Orleans on the second of March twenty-twenty after attending NRECA's annual meeting. Which is jarring since I've averaged around seventy-five business flights a year over my forty-three year career in utility regulation and policy. Go do the math. That's a ton of trips with airline peanuts or pretzels as my travel companion.

As for industry conferences, I hold tightly onto the vaguest of memories from January, February, and March of twenty-twenty, of squeezing into packed conference rooms and stepping through crowded hallways. Instead, my days these days are taken up, as are yours I suspect, by meeting after meeting in front of blurry images of faces displayed on a digital device. Gosh. In this era of masks, sanitizers, and vaccines, we sure have expanded the meaning of the word "meeting."

The point is, over the last forty-three years, while I've been minding the minutiae of utility service, its millions of watt-hours and millions of thermal units (the latter being British only because of the English engineer Thomas Tredgold), all ninety of this year's Fortnightly Under Forties were born, educated, hired, and promoted to impressive industry roles. It is their time to take electric, natural gas, and water service up to new heights. Yet they must continue their climbs through the clouds of the coronavirus crisis, sitting at home staring at their computer on the kitchen table.

Cut off from their colleagues, clients, and key constituencies, with Covid in the way, these ninety rising stars have had to carefully and creatively navigate their careers. All the evidence we have is that's exactly what they're doing, as you can see for yourself by checking out the feature on them herein in this issue of Public Utilities Fortnightly.

As if our annual celebration of the year's Fortnightly Under Forty isn't enough for one issue of PUF, we're presenting to you a second feature, A Day (Kinda) at Virginia's Commission. For this piece, the good public servants at the Old Dominion's State Corporation Commission allowed the PUF team to interview the three Commissioners �" Judith Williams Jagdmann, Jehmal Hudson and Angela Navarro �" and as many as seventeen members of Staff. The resulting mega-article is a thorough portrait of the utility regulatory body for the country's twelfth most populous state.

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With features on both twenty-twenty-one's Fortnightly Under Forty and the SCC of Virginia, are you saying you're still not satiated? Okay then, we've got more for you. After sitting in on the annual meeting of Canada's utility regulators and that of the U.S. Energy Association, the PUF team has excerpted for you the most memorable moments in our view. We did need to freshen our French for the former event but it was well worth it.

You all will need to get through this issue asap, notwithstanding all this good stuff inside. Why? Because this month, Public Utilities Fortnightly is publishing two issues. And the second issue will be out in a little over a week from now.

For June marks not just the beginning of the summer season. June is when PUF puts out its annual special issue on the state and future of power. Between that and this issue, there are nearly two hundred pages of essential reading for any Under Forty in utility regulation and policy, or for that matter anyone under fifty, or under sixty, or in this writer's case under seventy. 

Next week's special issue, made possible because of the generous support of Guidehouse, features the perspectives of, wow, ten of our industry's CEOs. Plus the perspective of the Prince of Wales himself, Charles, who just happens to be the heir apparent to the British throne. I bet he's proud the Btu is named after a Brit rather than, say, a Frenchman. I suppose we would then be measuring the heat energy of natural gas in terms of the Ftu.