"Customer participation and the integration of the customer are tremendous challenges"

Mark McGranaghan on the strategies and challenges for grid modernisation around the world

19th December, 2017
"Customer participation and the integration of the customer are tremendous challenges"
Mark McGranaghan, Vice President of the Integrated Grid Sector for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
Mark McGranaghan, Vice President of the Integrated Grid Sector for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

What's your name?

Mark McGranaghan

What’s your current job?

Vice President, Integrated Grid for the Electric Power Research Institute

How long have you held the position?

I have been with EPRI since 2003. I have been a Vice President for 11 years.

Can you describe your daily work routine?

My daily work routine depends on whether I am in the office or on the road. There are about three basic scenarios –

Working from the office. I catch up on coordination with my staff, currentmember issues, new project opportunities, and plans for upcomingevents. I catch up on email. Usually a number of calls withmembers regarding ongoing research plans – these could be fromanywhere in the world. If I am lucky, I get a couple of hours tomake an actual technical contribution (current research projects,proposals, industry standard work, technical papers, etc.).

Visiting a member. I am often meeting with executive teams from memberutilities around the world to update them on EPRI researchpriorities and coordinate with their own strategic plans. I try to stay on top of email and current issues on these days from the road.

Attending an industry conference, workshop or symposium. Part of our publicbenefit mission involves industry coordination and tech transfer ofour research plans and results. This involves attending andpresenting at many events around the world

What is your professional background?

I have a background in Electrical Engineering (Masters Degree from the University of Toledo) and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh. I have worked my entire career in the electric power industry – for a vendor of equipment, in a consulting company, and for EPRI. I am a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and have always considered contributions to the overall industry a top priority and a pleasure.

Tell me about yourself away from work?

I am a sports fan (huge fan of the Green Bay Packers in American football), I like to exercise and I have started to enjoy cooking as we have explored the value of a healthy diet. I have adopted Gaelic football and hurling as well as rugby in Ireland and being able to participate in an event at Croke Park is a particular honor.

Tell us something very few people know about you?

I’m a birdwatcher and a fan of literature and classic poetry (one of the things that attracted me to Ireland)

You are speaking at the forthcoming National Power Summit in Dublin. What is the focus of your talk?

The talk will focus on the strategies and challenges for grid modernisation around the world. The priorities have changed from a focus only on reliability (still critical) to a focus on integrating renewables and distribution resources as part of the investment strategy. There are many challenges associated with these combined objectives.

In your opinion what are the main trends and disruptions having effect on the power value chain?

Definitely the dramatically reduced costs of wind and solar (especially distributed solar) and the disruptions this causes at all levels of the power system. Along with this, the potential for customer participation and the integration of the customer are tremendous challenges.

What changes do you envisage for the sector in Ireland over the next five years?

These changes are already happening. Ireland leads the world in the integration of wind energy. Eirgrid is introducing new market strategies to achieve the flexibility and assure the capacity that is needed with this wind integration. The whole world is watching. At the same time, we are working on electrifying transport and heat, which will have important impacts on the grid infrastructure. Our challenge is to achieve this transformation with optimum investments and true integration of the customer with the grid operation.

Mark McGranaghan is appearing at The National Power Summit. The agenda and further details for this important national event, at Croke Park on January 30th, is available at powersummit.ie

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