Recap - Chicago Advanced Energy Stakeholder Breakfast: Microgrids & Critical Infrastructure - 3.2.17

-Tanner Kenney, Fellow

The Q1 2017 Chicago Advanced Energy Group (CAE) Stakeholder Breakfast took place on Thursday, March 2nd at the offices of Holland & Knight where discussion leaders and attendees examined the topics of microgrids and critical infrastructure through the lens of Chicago public policy, utility providers, the private sector, and beyond.

Throughout the event, leaders and attendees discussed the ways in which various industries, residential neighborhoods, public services, and more are interdependent on both Chicago’s energy infrastructure as well as each other. In speaking about Chicago’s attempts to fortify its energy infrastructure, Sherina Maye Edwards, Energy Commissioner for the Illinois Commerce Commission, introduced a report on the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure in the city, “Opportunities and Challenges for State Utility Regulators”.

Among other topics, Ms. Edwards highlighted the fact that “a Lloyd's of London report found that a widespread attack on the U.S. grid could lead to an economic loss ranging from two hundred forty-three billion up to a trillion dollars.”

York Chan, Administrator of Facilities for Advocate Heath Care, discussed the best practices for hospitals in the city – a 2 to 3 hour backup generator is simply not enough to provide resiliency for medical facilities with advanced technologies that “could go into self-check mode,[…] thus jeopardizing life-support.”

Mr. Chan then explained that a 96 hour backup window is now the industry standard for hospitals and short duration power outages occur more frequently than imagined.

Ralph Muehleisen, Urban Science and Engineering Program Lead at Argonne National Lab, introduced the interdependencies of Chicago’s critical infrastructure in a long-term drought scenario. From transportation to water and hospitals to manufacturing, the city’s vital resources are all tied together by their reliance on Chicago’s electoral infrastructure:

Paul Brager Jr., a Cyber-Security Architect with Booz Allen Hamilton, discussed the various ways in which Chicago can utilize “common defense considerations” as a method to further bolster critical energy infrastructure. He also cited microgrids as a technology through which a municipality, residential block, utility, and other large energy consumers can ensure the immediate delivery of power, thereby increasing the reliability of the grid, overall.

Advanced Energy Group founder and CEO, H.G. Chissell, guided the discussion and breakout sessions and raised key points regarding Chicago’s unique methods of governmental oversight, Mr. Chissell also cited several areas for improving the dissemination of the feasibility of microgrid construction and encouraged a dialogue between public and private entities regarding the delivery of the greatest good to Chicagoans.

Lastly, AEG is excited to announce its newest addition, Tessa Vlaanderen, as the Stakeholder Member Liaison. Tessa will be supporting Advanced Energy Group Members in creating value out of their membership. She has 10 years of experience driving energy solutions in multi-stakeholder partnerships. Tessa started her career as Utilities Technologist assuring and optimizing reliable, efficient and safe utilities in Europe’s largest refinery for Shell Downstream Manufacturing. More recently, she worked as program manager in product development and commercialization for Shell Global Commercial, after which she joined the Circularity Center, a public-private cleantech business development network. Tessa holds a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Process and Energy Technology from the Delft University of Technology.

The discussion leaders for this event included:

·       Joseph Svachula, Vice President of Smart Grid and Technology, ComEd

·       Dan Doyle, Chairman, Grumman/Butkus Associates

·       David Robbins, Administrator, City of Chicago Department of Aviation

·       York Chan, Administrator of Facilities, Advocate Heath Care

·       Sherina Maye Edwards, Commissioner, Illinois Commerce Commission

·       Paul Brager Jr., Cyber-Security Architect, Booz Allen Hamilton

·       Julian Spector, Staff Writer Microgrids, Greentech Media

·       Suzanne Chiavari, Engineer Practice Leader, Illinois American Water

·       Ralph Muehleisen, Urban Science and Engineering Program Lead, Argonne National Lab