Energy Risk and Critical Infrastructure Workshop | Denver, Colo.


May 25-26, 2016 | Denver, Colo.

This day-and-a-half workshop provided legislators and utility commission staff methods to examine and reduce risks to the nation’s energy supply and the electric grid. Attendees also had the opportunity to visit Western Area Power Administration’s Electric Power Training Center and participate in the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Resilience Lab.

Power lines.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Welcoming Remarks and Introductions

NCSL and NARUC Staff and Attendees

Near and Long-Term Energy Outlook

Energy supplies and costs can have strong influences on state energy planning and policy. Understanding potential future scenarios can help energy decision makers make investments that reduce rather than increase risk. Learn what the experts are thinking regarding regional, national and global energy supplies, and what the outlook means for state decision-makers.  


  • Troy Cook, senior global upstream analyst, U.S. Energy Information Administration | Presentation

Reliability and Grid Modernization

As the grid rapidly evolves to incorporate new ‘smart grid’ technologies, energy storage and distributed generation, tremendous opportunities for increasing reliability are being created. This session will explore the evolutions of the energy grid and what is being done, or could be done, to create a more resilient and robust energy system.


  • Caitlin Callaghan, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department of Energy | Presentation
  • Maury Galbraith, executive director, Western Interstate Energy Board | Presentation
  • Janet Sena, senior vice president and director of Policy and External Affairs, North American Electric Reliability Corporation | No Presentation

Threats to the Power System

The energy grid faces a number of natural and man-made threats, many of which are changing due to shifts in weather and grid technologies. This session will explore these threats, their regional variations, and how they rank in risk and importance.


  • Stephen Folga, engineer, Argonne National Laboratory | Presentation
  • Richard Lordan, senior technical executive, Electric Power Research Institute | Presentation
  • William Mahoney, deputy director of the Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research | Presentation

Securing the Grid Against Cyber-Attacks

Although grid technologies can increase reliability and efficiency, the increase connectedness of energy control systems poses real risks of damaging cyber-attacks. As these attacks become more frequent and serious, what steps can utilities, grid managers and policymakers take to harden the grid?


  • Shawn Taylor, Security Systems Analysis Manager, Sandia National Laboratory | No Presentation

Increasing Resiliency, Restoration and Reliability

Since major events such as hurricanes, storms and earthquakes can create significant damage at many levels of the power grid, it is essential that coordination and cooperation between government, utilities, and other involved entities be outlined and established ahead of time to enable the best and quickest response. Mutual assistance partnerships among utilities is also critical to ensuring skilled workers and equipment are available to swiftly restore power after major events. 


  • Richard Ward, senior manager of National Security, Edison Electric Institute | Presentation
  • Martha Duggan, senior principal of Regulatory Affairs, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association | Presentation
  • Mike Hyland, senior vice president of Engineering Services, American Public Power Association | Presentation

Travel to Western Area Power Administration (WAPA)

Tour of WAPA’s Electric Power Training Center

Attendees have the opportunity to participate in grid simulations through WAPA’s Miniature Power System, a unique operational power system simulator.

Welcome and Introductions


  • Tony Montoya, senior vice president & chief operating officer 
  • Steve Yexley, vice president of Technical Services

Intro to Western Area Power Administration and the Grid                        

MPS - Substation Operators at Midway

  • Tie Line Power Flow Control, Wind Generation, Serving Customer Load 
  • MPS – Power Plant Operations at Biglow
  • Starting and synchronizing a hydro generator, balancing generation/loading
  • MPS – Grid Operations at Champa
  • Transmission Lines, Voltage Control, Grid Ties and the Interconnection
  • Final Questions and Discussion

Return to the Magnolia Hotel for Reception

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Breakfast and Review of Day 1

NCSL and NARUC Staff and Attendees

NARUC’s Resilience Lab

The Resilience Lab will take participants though an exercise that explores options for managing the many risks to our power systems. The lab guides participants through a series of potential scenarios dealing with threats and challenges to the grid, allowing them to make decisions and learn more about the challenges state decision makers and utilities face as they work to maintain a reliable, resilient and affordable electric grid.


  • Miles Keogh, director of grants & research, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners | Presentation
  • Sharon Thomas, senior program officer, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners | Presentation

Lunch — Putting the Pieces Together

The guided discussion provided participants an opportunity to share what they’ve learned, discuss how they could use the information as they address energy risks in their states and provide feedback on what additional materials or support would assist them in this task.