CFO Roundtable Excerpted

Snippets from PUF's CFO Roundtable 2021:

Dan Cregg, CFO, PSEG:

“One of the key things we’ve had going on is a three and a half billion-dollar clean energy future filing sitting in front of our state regulator.

One large component of that is an energy efficiency program. That meets a lot of the elements that you’re talking about. A billion-dollar program was approved in September covering a three-year investment period.

Another component that is still in front of our regulator is automated metering. That goes to digitization. In New Jersey there has been a growing acceptance in AMI, and we’ll see that filing moving forward. Capturing that data, with AMI and energy cloud, and being able to use that to the benefit of customers is key.

Then there is an electric vehicle charging station filing and battery storage as the last component of that clean energy future filing.”

Peggy Smyth, CFO, National Grid: “Our investment program is at the heart of what we do. We invest over four billion a year in capital projects. We have a number of rate cases where we incorporated many decarbonization and digitalization programs.

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We have hydrogen blending studies and make-ready programs for electric charging stations and the like in some of the proposals and filings that are ongoing right now. We also have a renewable gas plant that’s attached to the largest wastewater treatment plant in New York City that is going live very soon.

We’re about fifty percent gas. The future of heat is a big focus of our company. When we look at digitization, big data, and automation, a good example is in our electric business. We have a digital roadmap that looks at how we can transform our operating performance over a period of time.

It consists of a series of ten projects and they include programs like vegetation management. We’re using big data and artificial intelligence to help us determine where to best do tree trimming and the like.”

Maria Rigatti, CFO, Edison International:

“If you think about California, we have always been at the forefront of environmental policy and decarbonization.

It started with energy efficiency, renewables, and now storage. If you think about where we are now, and the deep decarbonization that’s on track to be implemented by 2045, you’ll see a lot of things. We’ve done an analysis, which we call our Pathway 2045.

It’s a lot of numbers, and one of the main points is that we need way more electric vehicles. Seventy-five percent of the light-duty vehicles in the state will need to be electric by 2045. Two-thirds of the medium-duty vehicles in the state will need to be too, plus one-third of heavy-duty vehicles.

There will be much more building electrification. All this decarbonization and increased electrification has implications for generation and for storage. We will have eighty gigawatts of utility-scale, clean-energy generation and thirty gigawatts of storage.

Then, we’ll have everything that’s behind the meter. That’s thirty gigawatts of mainly rooftop solar and ten gigawatts of behind-the-meter storage. That’s a lot of infrastructure that’s needed to hit those goals. From a strategic perspective, that says the bottom line is we are going to continue to invest in that. It’s resilient, reliable infrastructure.

That’s key for us. We started grid modernization efforts with our smart meters almost a decade ago. We’re continuing to look at additional automation, sensors, communication, cybersecurity, and data analytics. All that fits together.”

Jason Wells, CFO, CenterPoint Energy:

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“Here at CenterPoint, we’re in a moment of strategic repositioning of the company. We are looking at minimizing exposure to unregulated businesses, including midstream.

We want to execute successfully on that and pivot back to accelerating some of the investment in our core regulated utilities. The large overriding theme for us at CenterPoint in 2021 will be this strategic repositioning of the company.”

Richard McMahon, SVP- Energy Supply and Finance, Edison Electric Institute:

“We’re taking a much closer look at adaptation hardening and resilience capital spending because most of our companies are doing a lot of it. We don’t classify it that way, since much resilience spending is in the face of more frequent storms, increased cyber threats, and all of those issues that are out there, and everybody is recognizing how critically important reliable electric service is. That’ll be another driver for more CapEx, more investment, and hopefully, economic growth.”