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Power Plays

Power Plays

By CoBank
Welcome to Power Plays, a podcast series dedicated to the U.S. power and energy sector. Hosted by Teri Viswanath, lead energy economist with CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division, Power Plays connects you with top energy and environmental innovators, policy makers and rural electric cooperative executives for timely insights and in-depth market analysis.
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Power Plays S2E5 - Connected and Committed: Meet the Partners Helping to Close the Rural Digital Divide
The spirit of the rural electrification movement of the 1930s is alive today as electric cooperatives leverage federal support to close rural America’s digital divide. In this episode, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath, Tamra Reynolds and Doran Dennis showcase success stories from co-ops providing rural communities with reliable, affordable broadband access. Guests include Carl Meyerhoefer, senior vice president of business development at Conexon; Aaron Bennett, vice president of broadband development at NRTC; and Colin Wood, CEO of TWN Communications. Listen as they share the keys to effective broadband partnerships and multiple paths to a successful outcome. 
May 25, 2022
Power Plays S2E4: Planning for Tomorrow’s EV Adoption Begins Today
Around 15,000 fully electric or hybrid electric vehicles were traveling American roads in 2011; today that number exceeds 2 million and is accelerating rapidly. But is the U.S. power grid ready to meet the expanding charging needs? In this episode, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds are joined by a cast of experts to discuss the state of EV readiness in the U.S. Guests include Brian Sloboda of NRECA; Scott Hammond of Central Electric Power Cooperative and Peter Muhoro with Rappahannock Electric Cooperative. Listen to their discussion for insights from a variety of perspectives. 
April 27, 2022
Power Plays S2E3: Inside Ford’s Strategy to Lead America’s Shift to Electric Vehicles
Recorded in the CoBank booth at the NRECA Annual Conference, in this episode of Power Plays CoBank’s Teri Viswanath talks with Dave Hurst, energy services manager with Ford Motor Company. He reveals what the company has learned as it embraces the EV market. Plus, Dr. Gil Tal, director of the Electric Vehicle Research Center at UC Davis, unpacks the factors ahead for EV adoption – including manufacturers’ role to make or break the market.
March 30, 2022
Power Plays S2E2: Reimagining Route 66: Co-ops Collaborate with EV Charging to Reinvigorate Rural America
The future of automobiles is clearly electric, and rural cooperatives across the U.S. are plugging in to ensure their communities are equipped with a robust EV charging infrastructure. In this episode, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds visit with Nate Boettcher, CEO of Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services in Wisconsin. Boettcher also serves as president of CHARGE EV, a coalition of nearly 70 co-ops that’s joined forces to build a thriving rural ecosystem for electric vehicle adoption. He explains why building regionally connected corridors will be critical for rural communities in the era of EVs. Plus, Brian Cavey, CoBank's senior vice president of government affairs, discusses the impact of two pieces of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that are critical to rural America—EV charging infrastructure and broadband access. 
February 23, 2022
Power Plays S2E1: When a Crypto Miner Comes to Town
Crypto currency mining operations are known as massive energy consumers. So how should electric utilities evaluate this new class of consumers when they ask for service? In this episode of Power Plays, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds interview an A-team of experts: journalist Jael Holzman with E&E News who covers crypto currency; former utility and power executive Steve Wright, who recently testified to Congress about the energy impact of crypto miners; and expert Elaine Johns, CEO of the technical consulting firm EnerVision, who shares how utilities can make a savvy strategic decision.
February 03, 2022
Power Plays S1E13: HVAC 2.0 – Home Comfort and Efficiency Isn’t Just Hot Air
To keep a house comfortable and the temperature stable, the key is to trickle in the right amount of heating or cooling, instead of blasting it – like a shower instead of a bucket of water. In this episode, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds speak with Nate Adams, author of The Home Comfort Book, co-founder of HVAC 2.0, and a partner of Energy Smart Home Performance. Learn how HVAC equipment has improved in recent years, and the important role that energy from surfaces plays in determining a home’s comfort.
December 15, 2021
Power Plays S1E12: Battery Storage Basics - What Co-ops Should Consider
A decade ago, many referred to grid-connected energy storage as a solution without a problem. Now we know it's the enabler of the grid of the future. In this episode, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds speak with two battery storage industry leaders. Chris Wright, executive director of the energy storage practice for E3 Consulting, is a veteran battery storage developer. Dr. Peter Muhoro is chief strategy, technology and innovation officer at Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, the first co-op in Virginia to roll out a utility-scale battery. Listen for insights on how batteries are providing operators with flexibility and agility and what co-ops should consider before developing their own energy storage.
November 30, 2021
Power Plays S1E11: High Five to Top Five Co-op Innovations
In this episode of Power Plays, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds celebrate National Co-op Month by sharing stories of innovation and resilience from five electric co-ops across the country. From keeping the heat on during the worst of a winter storm to providing internet service to customer-members in need, these stories will inspire.
October 28, 2021
Power Plays S1BT5: MidSouth Electric Co-op – Weathering a New Kind of Storm
MidSouth Electric Cooperative of Navasota, Texas experienced the worst of what winter storm Uri had to offer last February. But the co-op’s years of preparation and dedicated customer outreach minimized service disruptions. In this episode of Power Plays, CoBank’s Tamra Reynolds speaks with CEO Kerry Kelton to learn how the co-op’s efforts paid off when it mattered most.
October 22, 2021
Power Plays S1BT4: Mohave Electric Co-op – The Power of Broadband Partnerships
Mohave Electric Cooperative listened to its members, and recently added broadband internet services through an innovative partnership with TWN Communications. In this bonus track of Power Plays, CoBank’s Tamra Reynolds speaks with Tyler Carlson, CEO of Mohave Electric, and Ami Rodriguez, VP of sales, marketing and business development at TWN Communications, to learn about why this strategic partnership approach provides the best result for Mohave co-op members.
October 19, 2021
Power Plays S1BT3: Kit Carson Electric–Solar and Storage to Achieve 100% Renewable Energy
Five years ago, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative launched a multifaceted member engagement initiative to determine what types of energy offerings and other services its communities were seeking. That engagement led the co-op to transform its business model to meet emerging member preferences including more renewable energy sources, broadband and electric vehicle charging. In this episode of Power Plays, CoBank’s Tamra Reynolds speaks with Luis Reyes, CEO of Kit Carson Electric, for insights on how the co-op has thrived during its transformative journey.
October 15, 2021
Power Plays S1BT2: Vermont Electric Co-op – Carbon Free by 2023
Vermont Electric Cooperative has committed to procuring a zero-carbon emission power supply by 2023. In this bonus track of Power Plays, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds speak with Rebecca Towne, CEO of Vermont Electric, to learn more about how the initiative fits within the co-op’s long-term strategy and how co-op members are embracing the transition to cleaner energy sources. Towne also talks about the opportunity for rural electric co-ops to help lead their communities through the clean energy transition. 
October 08, 2021
Power Plays S1BT1: Roanoke Electric Co-op – Unlocking value with vehicle-to-grid technology
Roanoke Electric Cooperative is participating in a ground-breaking pilot program designed to test vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capability. The program brings together a diverse group of collaborators with a vested interest in the potential value of emerging V2G technology. In this episode of Power Plays, CoBank’s Tamra Reynolds speaks with Curtis Wynn, CEO of Roanoke Electric, to learn more about its role in the project and how it fits within the cooperative’s focus on developing programs that give members greater control of their energy costs. 
October 01, 2021
Power Plays S1E10: Powered with a Purpose – Trico Electric Embraces Solar Access for Members
As more consumers produce and store electricity at home, the traditional relationship between electric cooperatives and their members is shifting. Trico Electric embraced the changing marketplace and is helping members on the solar adoption journey. In this episode, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds talk with Trico Electric’s Eric Hawkins and Laree St. Onge to learn how a flexible outlook helped the co-op remain true to its member mission as it pivoted business operations.
September 22, 2021
Power Plays S1E9: Charge On - What Electric Co-ops Can Expect From Next-Gen Battery Storage
Renewable energy’s success hinges not only on generation, but also on storage - so it’s available when we need it. That’s where batteries come in. In this episode, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds are joined by Simon Price, CEO of Exawatt, to explore what’s ahead for both EV and stationary batteries. From the promise of sodium and iron as battery materials, to the difficulty of getting to the nexus of cost, performance and reliability, Price reveals what electric co-ops might expect from the next generation of battery storage.
August 25, 2021
Power Plays S1E8: How Clean Energy Development Can be Equitable for Rural Communities
Rural electric cooperatives have developed some of the largest and most advanced renewable energy projects in the country. To maintain that momentum, rural communities need to find strategies that ensure clean energy transition happens with them, not to them. In this episode, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds speak with two policy experts to understand how clean energy can be equitably developed for rural communities. Listen to their conversation with Dr. Gabriel Chan of the University of Minnesota and Dr. Keith Taylor from the University of California, Davis for insights.
July 28, 2021
Power Plays S1E7: Co-op EVolution: A Toolkit for Rural Electric Vehicle Adoption
Austin Energy built one of the most comprehensive and successful electric vehicle programs in the country. In this episode of Power Plays, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds speak with Karl Popham, manager of electric vehicles and emerging technologies at Austin Energy. Popham spearheaded the utility’s EV program, which launched in 2011 and today includes 30 separate initiatives how to engage consumers. Popham provides valuable and rarely heard insights about what EV adoption means from a consumer engagement perspective and shares critical details on load and revenue opportunities.
June 30, 2021
Power Plays S1E6: Co-op EVolution: A Blueprint for Rural Electric Vehicle Adoption
Electric vehicle sales are on the rise in the U.S. and could make up 10% of all new car sales by 2025. From lower operating costs to more model options, rural consumers are seeing the upside of EV ownership. In this episode of Power Plays, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath visits with two industry leaders to discuss the practical steps rural electric cooperatives might consider as they plan for a more expansive future with EVs. Listen to Teri’s discussion with Brian Sloboda, director of consumer services at NRECA, and Regi Goodale, director of regulatory affairs at Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, for insights on strategic EV initiatives.
June 16, 2021
Power Plays S1E5: Texas and the State of Deregulation
There is plenty of blame to go around for the Texas power outages this past winter. But what role, if any, did deregulation have? In this episode of Power Plays, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds visit with two leading policy experts for their insights: Dr. Michael E. Webber, chief science and technology officer at ENGIE and Josey Centennial Professor of Energy Resources at The University of Texas, and Paul Griffin, executive director of Energy Fairness and former senior government affairs advisor for Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association
May 25, 2021
Power Plays S1E4: What Will Drive the Next Decade of Cost Declines for Solar Power?
Over the last decade, the solar industry has benefitted from the fastest pace of technology innovation and cost declines within the energy sector. Solar technology costs have dropped roughly 90%, fueling nearly ten-fold growth globally. In this episode of Power Plays, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath takes a deep dive into solar technology innovation with Simon Price, CEO of UK-based Exawatt. Price is respected globally for his understanding of the PV value chain, from materials supply to downstream project development.
April 22, 2021
Power Plays S1E3: The Race Is On to Build the Biggest Batteries in Texas
Battery storage developers have largely steered clear of the ERCOT market in recent years. Instead, they’ve focused on California and other places that offer long-term offtake agreements with utilities. But Texas offers benefits the wind industry has long appreciated: relatively easy land acquisition and permitting, and a market that batteries can enter without waiting for major policy changes. In this episode of Power Plays, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath visits with Steve Vavrik, CEO of Broad Reach Power, an independent producer at the forefront of battery storage development in the Lone Star State.
March 23, 2021
Power Plays S1E2: The Next Big Thing: Grid-Tied Batteries
Battery storage is entering the electricity scene at an extraordinary pace. The energy industry is looking closely at the technologies and economics of stand-alone storage options and renewable energy pairing opportunities. In this episode of Power Plays, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath visits with Dr. Gary Dorris, CEO of Ascend Analytics to examine four “S” factors critical to battery profitability: siting, sizing, stacking, and (bid) strategy. Then, Christian Powell, energy regulatory affairs director at Pedernales Electric Cooperative, joins the podcast to offer specific insights for electric cooperatives.
February 23, 2021
Power Plays S1E1: U.S. Companies Poised to Accelerate the Renewables Boom
The United States continues to be the largest market for corporate driven renewable power purchase agreements. IHS Markit's most recent estimate anticipates the corporate sector will account for approximately 20% of its utility scale renewable additions in the U.S. in the next decade. In this inaugural episode of Power Plays recorded in December, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath visits with Anna Shpitsberg, research and analysis director, IHS Markit, to understand what's motivating companies to voluntarily invest billions of dollars in new wind and solar projects.
January 25, 2021