Owen Young Award
Steve Mitnick has authored four books on the economics, history, and people of the utilities industries. While in the consulting practice leadership of McKinsey & Co. and Marsh & McLennan, he advised utility leaders. He led a transmission development company and was a New York Governor’s chief energy advisor. Mitnick was an expert witness appearing before utility regulatory commissions of six states, D.C., FERC, and in Canada, and taught microeconomics, macroeconomics, and statistics at Georgetown University.
I began working with the Edison Electric Institute back in the mid-eighties. It was commonly said then, that when the nation's investor-owned utilities faced an industry-wide challenge, EEI's efforts to forge an industry-wide response was "like herding cats." And that when a response was finally agreed upon by utility leaders, it typically represented the "lowest-common denominator." The thought was that the interests of individual utilities, as perceived by their leaders, were just too disparate to arrive at strong solutions they all could advocate and put into practice.
By the early nineties, a new President was at EEI. Tom Kuhn believed in what came to be known as "Power by Association." That is, if the electric power industry endeavored to develop strong solutions to industry-wide challenges, and stood behind them, it could take on a larger role in making the country's energy future.
Easier said than done. But Kuhn's unique combination of tirelessly driving toward consensus, for meaningful change, and creating bonds between leaders within and beyond the IOUs, got it done, again and again. Most recently demonstrated in the industry's proactive efforts to help pass a series of federal laws to combat climate change.