Technical Session Abstracts

Opening Session

Mark A. Gabriel, Administrator and Chief Executive Officer, Western Area Power Administration

Capturing maintenance knowledge and asset management data is one critical method of engaging the many talents of field personnel. Western Area Power Administration encourages its maintenance employees to be proactive in finding more efficient and effective ways to complete their work, developing the next generation of leadership and preparing for a connected energy future. WAPA’s Administrator and CEO Mark A. Gabriel will discuss the importance of integrating field personnel into all aspects of running a utility, including innovation, strategic planning, inclusion and diversity, culture and psychological safety to unlock the unique perspectives of the people on the frontlines of power delivery.

Tom Gwaltney, Senior Dir. of Emergency Preparedness, Florida Power & Light – Building a Stronger and Smarter Energy Grid

Florida Power & Light Company’s (FPL) customers were impacted by seven hurricanes in a mere 18 months during the historic 2004 and 2005 seasons, which culminated with Hurricane Wilma. Following Wilma, FPL embarked on a journey to build a stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient energy grid for its customers. The initiative was coined as the Storm Secure Program. The more than $3 billion of investments made as part of the program were put to the test with Hurricane Irma in 2017. The presentation will discuss how FPL’s investments into the energy grid performed, and other projects the company has planned to deliver reliable service its more than 5 million customers can count on in good weather and bad.

Carl Segneri, VP of Business Development for M. J. Electric, A Quanta Services Company

I have been fortunate to team with spectacular field and craft personnel at both electric utilities and contracting companies. Both groups are highly skilled and trained. Both groups continue to improve their safety performance and accountability to levels not imagined possible 15 years ago. Utilities started the drive for safety excellence and contractors became better as a matter of price of entry.

Our industry does an excellent job of technical skills and methods training. Improved tools helps our field employees work safer and more productively. What I have learned is that the most effective way to improve safety and productive performance is to engage the hearts and the minds of the field workers. I plan to share many examples where true employee engagement developed significant advances in safety and better methods to get work done. Utility and contractor employees both share a pride in their craft and are very passionate about being part of the solutions. Successful leaders set the expectations and goals and let the employees use their creativity to meet those goals. We maintain our core rules and guidelines such as minimum approach distance, FR clothing policy, test before touch, use of seat belts, proper grounding of equipment, etc. but when we let the employees use technology or ingenuity to achieve the goals we are amazed at the results. Utility employees have used their intimate knowledge of the system and the local culture to develop ideas that make their work easier or improve customer satisfaction. Contractor employees can bring in ideas they have seen or developed elsewhere that the local workers might not have seen or adopted.

Whether you work for a utility, vendor or contractor, your Field workers are the face of your company to the customer. When they are respected and valued, they respect and value the customers they interface with.