UH Energy Symposium Series Kicks Off with Discussion on the Grid

Experts Will Discuss Grid Resilience, Other Challenges at Sept. 21 Event

Hurricane Irma left millions of people without power in Florida, and the state’s main utility said it may take weeks to restore it. Houston-area power outages during and after Hurricane Harvey were mostly short-lived.

But the ability to quickly restore service is only one challenge facing the nation’s electric grid, and the opening discussion in the 2017-18 UH Energy Symposium Series will cover them all.

“Electric Power: Going Off the Grid” begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, in the Houston Room of the UH Student Center South. You may register here.

The popular symposium series is entering its fifth year, offering four symposiums each academic year and covering a range of energy issues. In addition to the grid, future symposiums will address:

  • Nov. 16, “The Permian & Peak Demand: Death of OPEC?”
  • Feb. 8, “Renewable Energy: Should Government Subsidies Continue?”
  • March 22, “Energy, Artificial Intelligence & Robotics: The Future of People in Energy.”

Speakers for Thursday’s discussion include William John Berger, CEO of Sunnova Energy Corporation; Joel L. Mickey, senior director for wholesale market design & operations for ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates most of the state’s grid; and Heather Payne, assistant director and fellow at the Law Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics at the University of North Carolina.

Victor Flatt, Dwight Olds Chair in Law at the UH Law Center, will serve as moderator.

In addition to grid resilience, UH Chief Energy Officer Ramanan Krishnamoorti said speakers will talk about other challenges facing the grid, including the shift from electricity powered primarily by coal and nuclear power to that generated from natural gas, wind, solar and other renewable sources, shifting demand and the move to microgrids and more distributed energy storage.

Cybersecurity and its potential to affect the grid is another key topic, he said.

“It isn’t talked about much yet, but it has the potential to take down the economy like almost nothing else,” Krishnamoorti said.

The discussion, which will be streamed live on the UH Energy Facebook page, will be followed by a question-and-answer session.


Cover photo: Getty Images