The last blog post I wrote was in October, as the Washington Nationals were heading off to the World Series against the Houston Astros. Well, we all know how that turned out! In a cliffhanger seven-game marathon, the Nats won the Series, despite losing all their home games. What a season, what a team! A unique mix of spirit, skill and luck made it all happen. Sadly, the gang is already breaking up, with Parra off to Japan and Rendon going to the Angels:( We will have Howie Kendrick (one of “Los Viejos”) back next year, and of course, Stephen Strasburg. And we here in DC will have all winter to reflect on and savor what happened this year.
In my October blog, I said I was rounding third and heading for home. So true. The end of that month was notable because my daughter Annie tied the knot with her long-time boyfriend Isaac at the “DMV of Love”— the Borough of Manhattan’s Marriage Bureau. It was a veritable United Nations, with couples of every nation of origin and language saying their vows in front of friends and family. Surely it was the happiest government office I have ever seen. That was followed by a dim sum wedding lunch in Chinatown (so good!) and a wonderful Friday night party at the couple’s favorite bar in Brooklyn.
After that life-affirming event, it was back to work! In November, I represented the Association at the GridEx V Executive Tabletop put on by the Electricity Information and Analysis Center (E-ISAC). This Tabletop capped off the US/Canada GridEx V cyber and physical security exercise that the E-ISAC held earlier in the week. Over 100 public power utilities across the country participated in that event — a real testament to our sector’s increasing awareness of security issues. Joy Ditto, the Association’s next CEO, came to the Tabletop with me. She is already well known to the industry and government representatives who participated. She will do great work for public power in this arena.
I also spoke at the November meeting of Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee. CFTC Commissioner Dan Berkovitz asked me to speak on the changes coming to the electric utility sector, and how these changes could affect utilities’ needs for hedging instruments to manage price risk. I don’t get to the CFTC that often, but when I do, I am always reminded of how its regulations can really impact our utility members, for good or ill. My thanks to Commissioner Berkovitz for the opportunity to educate the CFTC on our industry and its hedging needs.
December found me back out on the road for two final member visits. I went to Denver to speak on December 10 to the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Mid-West Electric Consumers Association. MECA represents the preference customers of the Western Area Power Administration that purchase power from the Upper Great Plains hydro projects. Given that this was the last annual meeting for MECA’s Executive Director, Bill Drummond (he, too, is retiring!), we did a “Bill and Sue Unplugged” session moderated by energy lawyer extraordinaire Jeff Genzer. We talked about the challenges and opportunities facing Power Marketing Administration customers specifically and consumer-owned utilities generally. MECA surprised Bill and me by giving us both the 2020 Frederick G. Simonton-Thomas P. Graves Award — a real honor for me, given that I am not a denizen of the region. It was great to have one last chance to visit with the public power and cooperative PMA customers in the Upper Great Plains.
On December 18, I was in Salt Lake City to speak at the Annual Member Meeting of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems. UAMPS, a joint action agency with members in six states, is a progressive and forward-thinking public power group. UAMPS members are working to diversify and decarbonize their power supplies, including supporting new solar projects, and its “Carbon-free Power Project,” which is investigating the development of small modular nuclear reactors at the Idaho National Lab. Having worked with UAMPS’ long-time CEO, Doug Hunter, when he was the Association’s Board Chair, I was glad to accept UAMPS’s invitation go to the meeting and discuss some of the big challenges facing public power. UAMPS honored me with its “Champion of Public Power” award — the cherry on top of a wonderful final visit with a group I have gotten to know well over the years.
A December ritual for our Association is the last yearly meeting of the Executive Committee. It met at our offices on December 3 to pass the 2020 budget, approve the 2020 strategic plan workplan, and discuss the CEO transition. Joy Ditto will start at the Association as President and CEO on January 13. Having worked for our organization for many years, she will hit the ground running; I know she will do a great job of leading the Association through its next set of challenges.
As for me, I am heading for home, in both senses of that term. My last day at the Association is December 31. It will be interesting to see what next year brings — I am looking forward to a period of relaxation and travel with my husband Iles, and then I will think about what should come next.
I want to close this last blog post by saying I have immensely enjoyed my 15 years at the Association. Among the things I have appreciated the most is working with our staff and members, past and present. I have gotten to know many of you personally, and I regard you all as colleagues. The dedicated and friendly people I have met in public power are second to none. Thank you for all you do every day. “#Stay in the fight!”