106 episodes

Public Power Underground is more than a discussion about public ownership of electric infrastructure, the infotaining episodes cover the energy enthusiast trifecta of electrification, markets, and people. The hosts interview industry experts on a broad range of energy industry and energy-industry-adjacent topics at the nexus of electric utilities and the energy transition. The podcast doesn’t take itself too seriously and frequently plays energy inspired games like “energy enthusiasm distilled,” “draw an analogy,” and “say something nice about electric utilities."

Public Power Underground the Power Department

    • News
    • 5.0 • 39 Ratings

Public Power Underground is more than a discussion about public ownership of electric infrastructure, the infotaining episodes cover the energy enthusiast trifecta of electrification, markets, and people. The hosts interview industry experts on a broad range of energy industry and energy-industry-adjacent topics at the nexus of electric utilities and the energy transition. The podcast doesn’t take itself too seriously and frequently plays energy inspired games like “energy enthusiasm distilled,” “draw an analogy,” and “say something nice about electric utilities."

    Grand Analogies of the Energy System

    Grand Analogies of the Energy System

    Conleigh, Farhad, Ahlmahz, and Paul start season six with a discussion of ways to understand the energy system and analogies that can be used to explore its complications
    Conleigh Byers, Farhad Billimoria, Ahlmahz Negash, and Paul Dockery discuss various ways of understanding the energy system in the Season 6 Premiere of Public Power Underground. The episode starts with “Short-to-Ground,” a TL;DR segment where the hosts run through summaries of topical news from around the world and then have a short discussion of trends in the industry. Paul then introduces the ground rules for a season-spanning Energy System Analogies World Cup tournament. Lastly, the hosts discuss analogies for the energy system for consideration by future guests on Season 6. 
    You can find the podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Share with friends that are energy enthusiasts, like us!
    04:17 - Promotion for Conleigh’s upcoming presentation for the Harvard Kennedy School’s Energy Policy Seminar: “The Future of Resource Adequacy in a Decarbonized Grid" - March 25, 2024 - Register with the link
    06:54 - Short-to-Ground; a segment where we blow a fuse covering the news.
    Increased EV-Charging Demand and Changing Load Profile Underscore Need for Cross-Sector CollaborationUtilities, EV charging companies must collaborate to avoid bulk power system disruptions: NERCAnother tower collapse poses more questions about transmissionPreliminary Thoughts after Preliminary Report: A few early thoughts following the release of the AEMO Preliminary Report into the recent Victorian power system event.Industry to drive tripling of natural gas consumption in India by 2050ISO-NE recommends capacity market reformsISO New England proposes capacity market changes, further 2-year delay for upcoming auctionCAISO Postpones New Interconnection Requests Due to High Volume27:57 - 2024 ENERGY SYSTEM ANALOGIES WORLD CUP
    33:04 - The electric sector is like the human body
    37:00 - The electric sector is like a water catchment and irrigation system
    44:30 - The electric sector is like back country skiiing
    49:38 - Electric utilities function like a P-I-D controller for the energy system
    59:43 - The electric sector is like air
    01:01:20 - The electric sector is like the Mumbai dabbawala tiffin service
    01:06:03 - The electric sector is like a game of twister
    01:08:59 - Ways of understanding the energy system are like moral theories for right action

    Public Power Underground, for electric utility enthusiasts! Public Power Underground, it’s work to watch!

    • 1 hr 18 min
    The Transmission Expansion Era w/ John Hairston

    The Transmission Expansion Era w/ John Hairston

    John Hairston returns to discuss what BPA is doing to navigate an era of transmission expansion for the grid.
    John Hairston, the CEO and Administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration, shares his enthusiasm for transmission and people in an interview with Paul Dockery and Crystal Ball. The interview is wrapped in informative discussion on energy industry news, research, and reflection by Ahlmahz Negash, Conleigh Byers, Farhad Billimoria, and Paul Dockery.
    You can find the podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Share with friends that are energy enthusiasts, like us!

    01:36 - How transmission is addressed in seminal texts
    Power System Economics: Designing Markets for Electricity by Steven Stoft Imperfect Markets and Imperfect Regulation: An Introduction to the Microeconomics and Political Economy of Power Markets by Thomas-Olivier Léautier05:23 - Short-to-Ground; a segment where we blow a fuse covering the news.
    Wednesday February 28th the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hosted the eighth public meeting of the Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric TransmissionRob Gramlich and his team at GridStrategies released a report in February titled “Fostering collaboration would help build needed transmission”Utility Dive published an opinion piece by Will Kenworthy and Boratha Tan titled “Advancing energy justice: A new paradigm in grid equity and reliability analysis”The Bonneville Power Administration identified 14 new transmission projects costing an estimated $3.9 billion in its 2023 TSR Study and Expansion ProcessThe Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC or Commission) has released a draft determination on a 'flexible trading' ruleThe Western Transmission Expansion Coalition announced the members of its Regional Engagement CommitteeSpot market power in the U.S.Wholesale spot prices for the National Electricity Market (NEM)Energy Information Administration’s Natural Gas Weekly Update17:17 - John Hairston’s interview with special-correspondent Crystal Ball
    41:00 - John Hairston’s analogy; the electric system is like golf45:24 - Crystal Ball’s analogy; the electric sector is evolving like the eras of Taylor Swift1:17:33 - Updating our priors
    Risanger, Simon, and Jacob Mays. "Congestion risk, transmission rights, and investment equilibria in electricity markets." The Energy Journal 45.1 (2024). Baker, Erin, et al. "Who is marginalized in energy justice? Amplifying community leader perspectives of energy transitions in Ghana." Energy Research & Social Science 73 (2021): 101933.1:15:22 - ESA (Energy System Analogies) World Cup Standings
    Public Power Underground, for electric utility enthusiasts! Public Power Underground, it’s work to watch!

    • 1 hr 21 min
    Distribution Hardware

    Distribution Hardware

    exploration of approaches to distribution systems from microcontrollers and software to MOAR HARDWARE
    Distribution infrastructure, microcontrollers in everything, hardware vs software solutions, and prices-to-devices get covered in a distribution systems episode with Ahlmahz Negash, Conleigh Byers, Farhad Billimoria, and Paul Dockery featuring an interview with the enthusiastic Francis Sammy! A discussion that manages to navigate the nuances of MOAR HARDWARE as an actionable energy transition strategy while articulating the benefit of deploying smart, controllable, and price-responsive devices.
    You can find the podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Share with friends that are energy enthusiasts, like us!
    01:18 - 30 second theory
    Schweppe, Fred C., et al. Spot pricing of electricity. Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.Schweppe, Fred C. "Power systems2000': hierarchical control strategies." IEEE spectrum 15.7 (1978): 42-47.08:59 - Short-to-Ground; a segment where we blow a fuse covering the news
    The Major Drivers of Long-term Distribution Transformer DemandCybersecurity baselines for both electric distribution systems and distributed energy resources (DER)Portland-based GridStor announced its acquisition of a planned 450-MW/900-MWh lithium-ion battery storage installationThe National Renewable Energy Lab recently released a report studying the economics of building long-distance, high-voltage transmission linesSpot market power in the U.S.Wholesale spot prices for the National Electricity Market (NEM)Energy Information Administration’s Natural Gas Weekly Update23:21 - Francis Sammy provides a practitioner perspective on distribution systems and the energy transition
    Francis Sammy is a licensed professional engineer that works as the supervisor of the Systems Distribution Engineering workgroup for Seattle City Light. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, studied electrical engineering at Howard University, and works on distribution systems for Seattle. Francis lives in Beacon Hill with his family of 3 and says you can find him riding around town on his bike, vibing out at a concert, laboring up the basketball court, or sliding down a mountain face first.54:06 - Francis Sammy’s analogy; the grid is like an old, reliable car
    56:38 - Updating our priors
    1:17:55 - ESA (Energy System Analogies) World Cup Standings
    Public Power Underground, for electric utility enthusiasts! Public Power Underground, it’s work to watch!

    • 1 hr 25 min
    BONUS: Eras of the Electric Sector (Taylor's Version)

    BONUS: Eras of the Electric Sector (Taylor's Version)

    Katherine Blunt, author of California Burning, joins Crystal Ball and Paul Dockery to discuss the eras of the electric sector (Taylor's Version).
    To celebrate Taylor Swift’s April 19th release of The Tortured Poets Department (and Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology), Katherine Blunt, Crystal Ball, and Paul Dockery recorded a special, bonus, episode dedicated to the Eras of the Electric Sector.
    Katherine Blunt is the author of California Burning; The Fall of Pacific Gas and Electric--and What It Means for America's Power Grid which is the most approachable introduction to the history of the electric sector ever published! The book interprets, unpacks, and conveys the complex history of Pacific Gas & Electric, and, through it, provides an introduction to the history of the electric sector as well. Katherine Blunt joined Crystal Ball and Paul Dockery for an interview that’ll be part of an upcoming, regular, episode of Public Power Underground, but while we were together we took some time to record a discussion of the sector’s history.
    In the recording (and attached 20 slide power point) Katherine, Crystal, and Paul explore the history of the electric sector and Pacific Gas & Electric through Taylor Swift’s discography.
    The exploration answers the age old question of what electric sector milestone Taylor Swift wrote “You Belong With Me” about. And, because you know it’s what you wanted, there’s an official Eras of the Electric Sector Spotify playlist.
    Yes, my wife and I share a Spotify account. And, yes, my whole family contributed to the playlist including the additions, modification, and resorting of songs like “The Last Great American Dynasty” starting the Efficiency Era instead of “Cardigan” and the addition of Jimmy Carter’s sweater speech as an electric sector milestone. But, no, we didn’t get a preview of The Tortured Poets Department to include songs from the new album in the playlist. 
    You can find the podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Share with friends that are energy enthusiasts, like us!
    Public Power Underground, for electric utility enthusiasts! Public Power Underground, it’s work to watch!

    • 42 min
    Dr. Kyri Baker on AI & OPF

    Dr. Kyri Baker on AI & OPF

    Dr. Kyri Baker, an assistant professor of engineering at the University of Colorado, makes a return visit to discuss the use of artificial intelligence for power grid optimization. Plus, Conleigh Byers, Farhad Billimoria, Ahlmahz Negash, and Paul Dockery wrap the interview with an explanation of AI and all its acronyms.
    You can find the podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Share with friends that are energy enthusiasts, like us!

    01:19 - 30 second theory
    Farhad Billimoria on “What is OPF?”Conleigh Byers on “What’s the difference between artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Deep Learning, Physics Informed Neural Networks (PINN), Large Language Models (LLM), generative AI, and general intelligence?”14:28 - Dr. Kyri Baker: Using AI and Machine Learning for Power Grid Optimization
    Using AI and Machine Learning for Power Grid Optimization: How Neural Networks Can Speed Up Optimal Power FlowBaker, Kyri. "Emulating ac opf solvers with neural networks." IEEE Transactions on Power Systems 37.6 (2022): 4950-4953.Baker, Kyri, and Harsha Gangammanavar. "Locational Marginal Prices Obey DC Circuit Laws." arXiv preprint arXiv:2403.19032 (2024).1:06:14 - Updating our Priors
    Chatzivasileiadis, Spyros, et al. "Machine learning in power systems: Is it time to trust it?." IEEE Power and Energy Magazine 20.3 (2022): 32-41. APA1:23:26 - ESA (Energy System Analogies) World Cup Standings

    Public Power Underground, for electric utility enthusiasts! Public Power Underground, it’s work to watch!
    --------photo credit Carl Bower for The New York Times

    • 1 hr 30 min
    What it means for America's power grid w/ Katherine Blunt

    What it means for America's power grid w/ Katherine Blunt

    Katherine Blunt joins Crystal Ball and Paul Dockery to discuss her reporting at the Wall Street Journal on the energy industry and her book, California Burning: The Fall of Pacific Gas and Electric--and What It Means for America's Power Grid.
    Matthew Schroettnig joins Conleigh Byers, Farhad Billimoria, and Paul Dockery for the rest of the episode to cover utility risks, load growth, and the current landscape of America’s power grid.
    You can find the podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Share with friends that are energy enthusiasts, like us!
    03:13 - Short-to-Ground; a segment where we blow a fuse covering the news
    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a suite of standards to cut greenhouse gas emissions as well as toxic air pollution, water pollution, and land contamination from fossil fuel plantsBureau of Land Management (BLM) updated regulations on Broadband Authorization, Cost Recovery, and Vegetation Management for Fire Risk ManagementLetter from twenty-six entities from across the West to the Southwest Power Pool expressing interest in continuing the development of Markets+Portland General Electric is seeking approval for a new, 7.4 mile, 115 KV transmission lineSpot market power in the U.S.Wholesale spot prices for the National Electricity Market (NEM)Energy Information Administration’s Natural Gas Weekly UpdateHedging and Tail Risk in Electricity Markets18:39 - Katherine Blunt joins Crystal Ball and Paul Dockery to discuss her reporting at the Wall Street Journal on the energy industry and her book, California Burning: The Fall of Pacific Gas and Electric--and What It Means for America's Power Grid
    California Burning: The Fall of Pacific Gas and Electric--and What It Means for America's Power GridWildfires Make Utilities a Tricky Investment. Just Ask Warren Buffett.Big Tech’s Latest Obsession Is Finding Enough Energy49:13 - Katherine Blunt’s analogy; the grid is like a network of roads and highways
    51:08 - Updating our Priors
    1:07:20 - ESA (Energy System Analogies) World Cup Standings
    1:08:11 - Matt Schroettnig’s analogy; electricity is like water in a biome
    Public Power Underground, for electric utility enthusiasts! Public Power Underground, it’s work to watch!

    • 1 hr 19 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
39 Ratings

39 Ratings

Tubaman99 ,

Fantastic Infotainment!!

Public Power Underground is a great resource for news and entertainment on Power and Power related items. It is always enjoyable to listen and the team does a fantastic job getting great news and guests. Most importantly the show is fun and always a great laugh while I am learning more about the amazing industry we are in!

AppUgh ,

Catching up on the episodes. Thanks for the shoutouts!

Yes, NW electricity can be fun and podcast worthy! Appreciate the shoutouts on the Administrator’s recruitment episode. Sonya B.

Spencer Top ,

I’ve finally found my tribe

This is my new favorite podcast. If you’re a power planing enthusiast this will likely be your favorite too. Just wish I knew how to stop humming Arin & Ian’s intro/closing theme song. It’s an ear worm.

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