Lori Burkhart is the editor-in-chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
NARUC's Summer Policy Summit 2021 was historic. It marked a milestone after a year and a half of virtual meetings. The over six hundred in-person attendees in Denver will likely never forget their first in-person conference as the pandemic was waning.
The massive crowd at the highly anticipated Sunday evening reception was joyous. Festive, exuberant, cheerful, everyone was walking around with huge grins, happy to see old friends or make new ones. Of course, it didn't end at the allotted time, as there was too much catching up to do.
While waiting for NARUC President Paul Kjellander to take the stage Monday morning for a packed Connecting the Dots session, the air of anticipation among the jam-packed attendees lingered, and they weren't disappointed. In true Kjellander form, he let everyone know what great informative panels they had to look forward to. Colorado PUC Chair Eric Blank followed with a warm welcome to his wonderful state.
The pandemic introduced a hybrid of sorts to the Summit, with some panels partially attended by on-line speakers plus some three hundred attendees who viewed online. NARUC's Michelle Malloy, Regina Davis, and a multitude of Staff pulled off the mix flawlessly. It worked.
To call the conference a success doesn't afford the right amount of gravitas to this significant NARUC event that took place in Denver. It also afforded a degree of reflection, in terms of you don't know how fortunate you are until you realize what you value is gone. Attendees picked up some pieces of what was lost in the pandemic, and it felt wonderful.