5 Topics You Read, Watched and Couldn’t Get Enough of in 2020 | SEPA Skip to content

5 Topics You Read, Watched and Couldn’t Get Enough of in 2020

Throughout this year, SEPA has delivered compelling content and new opportunities to engage with the carbon-free energy transformation topics that matter to you. Explore some popular topics that captivated the SEPA community this year, and catch up on the SEPAPower blogs and SEPA TV episodes you may have missed.

1. Energy Storage
You loved seeing storage success stories in 2020, whether from utility leaders stateside or energy innovators across the globe.

In this November SEPAPower blog, John Glassmire of Hitachi ABB Power Grids shared key takeaways from ElectraNet’s innovative Dalrymple project in Southern Australia. Revisit this blog to explore how they optimized a battery energy storage system (BESS) asset to monetize value streams for multiple parties.

In October, Hawaiian Electric Industries President & CEO Connie Lau sat down (virtually of course!) with SEPA President & CEO Julia Hamm on SEPA TV to discuss distributed solar + storage and its powerful contributions to Hawaii’s carbon-free energy transition. In case you missed it, watch to the end to discover insights for utilities looking to expand their solar + storage portfolios.

2. Microgrids
This year you spent a lot of time engaging with SEPA content on microgrids, and particularly the evolving roles of policy makers, regulators, and pioneering utilities in implementing microgrids for resilience, carbon reduction, electrification, and more.

In September, Jared Leader of SEPA and Peter Asmus of Guidehouse teamed up to explore how utilities, policy makers and regulators are responding to increased demand for microgrids as a resilience solution and furthering microgrid commercialization. Refresh yourself on their takeaways here.

As the leader of a utility who pioneered using microgrids for utility carbon reduction and resiliency, Caroline Winn of San Diego Gas & Electric provided a top-notch deep dive on microgrids in her September SEPA TV episode. Revisit the video for insights on how microgrids can serve the most vulnerable communities, the value of utility knowledge sharing, and why pilots are critical to test ideas.

3. Social Equity
Across the nation this year, we saw increased attention on anti-racism, as many organizations and utilities doubled down on necessary social equity work. To do our part, SEPA is taking active steps, both internally and externally, to encourage the tough conversations about social and economic equity in our industry, and across the energy transition. We remain committed to, and hope you share in our vision of, a future that is both equitable and carbon-free.

Our SEPA colleague Ian Motley argued in this July SEPAPower blog that utilities have a duty to incorporate social equity into their understanding of their traditional responsibilities: to provide safe, affordable, and reliable energy to their customers. Read (or re-read) for inspiring examples of utilities taking steps to confront this challenge in the communities they’re bound to serve.

In August and September, we published a SEPA TV series on utility strategies for economic equity and minimizing the impacts of coal plant closures on disadvantaged communities traditionally supported economically by coal. Your favorite episode featured Charles Patton sharing lessons from AEP’s innovative Appalachian Sky retraining program – definitely worth a(nother) watch!

4. Distribution Planning Innovation
SEPA and our industry members did some major rethinking of the distribution planning process this year. You came along for the ride, engaging with us on reimagined models for distribution system planning and key insights on transitioning to integrated distribution planning (IDP).

At the top of the year, Jared Leader introduced a model for less linear and more democratized distribution planning in this SEPAPower blog. Using insights from SEPA stakeholder engagement work in Washington, D.C., Jared shared ways utilities can ensure that grid systems are flexible and interactive, not merely reactive.

On SEPA TV, SEPA Research Director Brenda Chew recently reviewed key insights found in our recent report, Integrated Distribution Planning: A Framework for the Future. If you haven’t caught it yet, watch this episode (or our blog recap) to discover how IDP can help utilities prepare for the future, and how any utility can start to incorporate IDP processes and principles.

5. Team and Industry Collaboration
With the disruption and unforeseen challenges 2020 brought upon our short-term and long-term progress, it’s no wonder you craved content on team and industry collaboration. In response, we published a collection of blogs and insight-packed episodes on the importance of collaboration to achieving a carbon-free energy future.

For example, this SEPAPower guest blog from PXiSE Energy Solutions explored ways to break down utility team silos to prepare for a more dynamic and distributed future grid. The key takeaways and utility case studies in this blog make it worth a read… or two or three!

Unprecedented industry challenges this year also called for new organizational cooperation. Case in point, Julia Hamm teamed up with Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) President Arshad Mansoor in September for a SEPA TV fireside chat on industry collaboration. NYPA President and CEO Gil Quinones, the discussion moderator, called it “the definition of synergy.”

Wrapping Up 2020 (Finally!)
Despite 2020’s challenges and unmistakable hardships, SEPA is proud of our members and the industry for continuing to work diligently towards a carbon-free energy system. We’re honored that you look to the SEPAPower blog and SEPA TV channel for trusted insights, new ideas, and inspiring examples of carbon-free energy leadership.

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