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TOP 12 utility champions

WITH THIS ISSUE, WE TAKE A CLOSER LOOK WITHIN OUR Top 12 for 2012 at the champions of large municipal electric utilities across the United States.

As with the unsung heroes of large electricity co-ops, the first thing these champions will tell you is that they represent their entire team. Therefore, my choices here both honor these 12 people and the teams with which they work.

These 12 represent, too, the work done by progressive municipal utilities across the country. In upcoming months, we hope to tell the stories of those not named here, as well.

As vice president of information technology and CIO of the New York Power Authority, DENNIS ECCLESTON has a lot on his plate. His responsibilities include implementation and support of IT applications; operation of the corporate data center; operation and maintenance of network and server infrastructure; cyber security; telecomm operation and maintenance; and customer service in support of IT. The NYPA is the nation's largest state-owned electric utility, and is a leader in advancing energy efficiency and the development of clean energy technologies and electric vehicles.

VIC HATRIDGE has served as vice president and chief information officer for Nashville Electric Service (NES) for 15 years, and is responsible for all commercial computer and telecommunications systems. Hatridge is extremely active in the utility community, both with the American Public Power Association Information Technology committee and more broadly with the Nashville CIO Council. NES is a municipal electric distribution utility serving more than 350,000 customers in metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee.

JERRY HERNANDEZ, Austin Energy's director of smart grid and system operations, was previously Austin Energy's division manager of the information technology and telecommunications enterprise networking and enterprise services group. Austin Energy is the nation's ninth largest community-owned electric utility, with about 430,000 customers, and covers a population of nearly one million. It has successfully completed its AMI deployment, and is now using information gathered to improve its response to outages.

As chief operating officer for the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), MICHAEL D. HERVEY has headed up the development of LIPA's smart grid strategies, implementation of storm hardening strategies and more, in addition to his oversight responsibility for the operations, customer, resource and industry-facing aspects of LIPA's T&D business. LIPA is the second-largest municipal electric utility in the U.S. in terms of electric revenue, third-largest in terms of customers served and seventh-largest in terms of electricity delivered.

MARIA KOUDOURIS, vice president of customer service and solutions for CPS Energy, oversees meter reading and field collections, customer call center and customer service centers, management of commercial accounts and the Casa Verde SA weatherization program, which she spearheaded in 2009. CPS Energy serves more than 707,000 electric customers and more than 322,000 natural gas customers in its 1,566-square-mile service territory.

MATTHEW LAMPE, CIO of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, is responsible for strategic and operational direction of LADWP's information technology and telecommunications organizations, as well as application development for all divisions of the utility. LADWP is the largest municipal utility in the country, serving 4 million residents and businesses in Los Angeles and surrounding communities.

FRANKIE MCDERMOTT, director of customer services at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), oversees all customer-related operations, programs and services, including the call center, billing and credit, field services, energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, and manages the changing relationships with customers as SMUD moves forward with its smart grid projects. In mid-April, SMUD completed installing smart meters for its more than 600,000 residential and business customers.

As vice president of customer relations, MARLENE MURPHY-ROACH provides direct leadership for JEA's customer relationship department. In an interview last year, she told me, "In our view of the smart grid, and our focus in our deployments ... JEA is primarily looking for benefits that can benefit our customers." She epitomizes this focus in her leadership of customer relationships. JEA owns and operates the largest community-owned utility in Florida, and the eighth largest in the U.S., with more than 417,000 electric customers in Jacksonville and parts of three adjacent counties, as well as water and sewer customers.

DAWN ROTH is general manager of information technology services for Colorado Springs Utilities, and leads 160 employees focused on every aspect of technology for a four-service (water, gas, electric and wastewater) utility, including software, hardware, network, database, telecommunications, Internet and Web 2.0 tools. Colorado Springs has been installing automated meters for gas, electric and water service since 2006, and has nearly completed installation across its entire territory. The community-owned utility serves 600,000 customers. Its overarching plan calls for a multi-service smart grid.

STEVE SCHMITZ, Omaha Public Power District's division manager, information technology district, has been active in the electric utility community for many years (see "Focusing on customers" March/April 2012 Intelligent Utility). An employee with the OPPD since 1989, he has held numerous leadership and management positions. The OPPD serves more than 346,000 customers in 13 southeast Nebraska counties.

Seattle City Light's customer service and energy delivery officer, PHIL WEST, joined the utility in early 2010, moving north from SMUD. Among his duties at Seattle City Light, West is responsible for leading a number of infrastructure improvement projects, including the utility's recently implemented outage management system. The utility has nearly 400,000 business and residential customers, and covers a service area just over 131 square miles.

CARRIE YOUNG manages Salt River Project's revenue cycle services, including all aspects and operations of the revenue cycle from meter to bill. Young co-chair's SRP's Smart Grid Leadership Committee and sets the strategic direction for smart meter infrastructure. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, SRP provides electric power to more than 930,000 customers throughout a 2,900-square-mile service territory, and is one of the few U.S. utilities to offer a comprehensive prepayment option to customers.



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