Invited Speakers

Day 1 – Technologies & Processes for Grid Decarbonization


Sharma Kolluri
Manager of Advanced Studies Group, Entergy

Sharma Kolluri is currently the Manager of Advanced Studies Group in Transmission Planning Department at Entergy. He has over 35 years of experience in Planning and Operations of Bulk Power Systems. His main areas of interest are power system planning and operations, voltage and dynamic stability, reactive power planning and renewable energy. Sharma was selected as IEEE Fellow in 2010 for innovative contributions in the voltage stability area. He is Chair of the IEEE PES working group on dynamic system modeling, Co-Lead of the IEEE PES Corporate Engagement Program and Past Chair of the IEEE PES Fellows Committee. Sharma is actively involved in Research and Development in the area of power systems and has published over 50 papers, articles and reports.

Marianna Vaiman
Chief Executive Officer, V&R Energy

Marianna Vaiman is a Chief Executive Officer at V&R Energy. Marianna has 30 years of experience in the electric utility industry. Her areas of expertise include power system stability, optimization, and control; analysis of cascading outages; and use of synchrophasor measurements for enhanced situational awareness and control.

Marianna is a Senior IEEE member. She is a member of IEEE PES Industry Technical Support Leadership Committee and a Co-Lead of IEEE PES Corporate Engagement Program. She is active in NERC, WECC, and NASPI communities.

Michael Gatt
Chief Operating Officer, AEMO

Over the last two years in his role as Chief Operating Officer, Michael is responsible for operating the electricity and gas markets and systems on the east coast.

Being a very active contributor in the energy industry over the last 25 years, Michael has always been passionate about its role in society and the people that make it happen. Prior to joining AEMO, Michael served in a number of Executive leadership roles delivering large scale electricity infrastructure and grid scale connection assets, he has deep experience in distribution networks, industry associations and in energy policy roles throughout the development of the National Electricity Market.

Damir Novosel
Chair, IEEE PES ITSLC, and President, Quanta Technology

Damir Novosel is president and founder of Quanta Technology, a subsidiary of Quanta Services, a Fortune 300 company. Previously, he was vice president of ABB Automation Products and president of KEMA T&D US. Dr. Novosel is also an adjunct professor of Electrical Engineering at North Carolina State University.

Dr. Novosel was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2014. He served as President of the IEEE Power and Energy Society and VP of Technical Activities. Damir is a member of the IEEE Standards Association Standards Board. He also chairs IEEE Smart Cities Initiative and Industry Technical Support Leadership Committee. Damir is a member of the CIGRE US National Committee and received the CIGRE Attwood Associate and the Distinguished Member awards. Damir holds 17 US and international patents and published over 180 articles and reports. He contributed to 5 books.

Damir is an IEEE Fellow since 2003, holds PhD, MSc, and BSc degrees in electrical engineering from Mississippi State University (where he was a Fulbright scholar), the University of Zagreb, Croatia, and the University of Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, respectively. Dr. Novosel was selected as Mississippi State University Distinguished Engineering Fellow.

M. Michelle Blaise
Senior Vice President of Technical Services, ComEd

Michelle Blaise, senior vice president of Technical Services, is responsible for Engineering, Project Management and Smart Grid & Technology for ComEd. ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC). ComEd delivers electricity to more than 4 million residential and business customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population.

Exelon is a Fortune 100 energy company with the largest number of electricity and natural gas customers in the U.S. The company does business in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Canada and had 2018 revenue of $36 billion. Exelon serves approximately 10 million customers in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania through its Atlantic City Electric, BGE, ComEd, Delmarva Power, PECO and Pepco subsidiaries. Exelon is one of the largest competitive U.S. power generators, with 31,000 megawatts of nuclear, gas, wind, solar and hydroelectric generating capacity comprising one of the nation’s cleanest and lowest-cost power generation fleets. The company’s Constellation business unit provides energy products and services to approximately 2 million residential, public sector and business customers, including more than two-thirds of the Fortune 100.

David Ortiz
Acting Director of the Office of Electric Reliability, FERC

David is Acting Director of the Office of Electric Reliability (OER) at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. OER helps the Commission to oversee the reliability and security of the electric grid. OER’s responsibilities include oversight of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation in its development and enforcement of mandatory reliability and cybersecurity standards. David leads over 90 staff, including electrical engineers, statisticians, attorneys and analysts. OER’s recent accomplishments include: a standard ensuring that the grid can operate through extreme cold weather; standards for securing the supply chain for grid-related cyber systems and protecting the integrity and availability of grid communications; a standard requiring increased grid cybersecurity incident reporting; a rule requiring new generators to be able to provide frequency response, ensuring reliability of the grid as it incorporates more renewable resources; a standard protecting the grid from solar storms; a series of reports documenting utility best practices in grid restoration and recovery; and a series of best practice reports in utility cybersecurity.

From 2013 to 2016, David was a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Infrastructure Modeling and Analysis (EIMA) in the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability at the Department of Energy. From 1998 through 2013, David worked at the RAND Corporation, where he built a program of energy policy research and analysis.

David earned his doctorate in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan. He graduated from Princeton University. David lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife, Nicole, and two children. He is an avid tennis player, cyclist, home cook, and musician.

Christopher E. Root
COO, Vermont Electric Power

Mr. Root has over 35 years of utility operations and engineering leadership experience. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer for Vermont Electric Power Company in Rutland, VT. He is responsible for the engineering, construction and operation of the transmission system in the state of Vermont, USA.
Previously, he was the Senior Vice President of Network Strategy at National Grid USA responsible for engineering and asset management of the electric and gas networks in the US. He was a Senior VP for 17 years in various roles in Transmission and Distribution Operations, Engineering and Construction for operations in MA, RI, NH and NY. He oversaw several operational mergers and was Emergency Director for over 70 significant events through the years.

Mr. Root has a BS in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University and a MEng in Electric Power Engineering from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute. He attended the Program for Management Development at the Harvard Business School. Mr. Root is a registered Professional Engineer in the states of MA and RI.

Mr. Root has been the elected Treasurer, Secretary and Member at Large of the IEEE Power and Energy Society Governing Board. He has been member of the North American Transmission Forum Board of Directors and is on the Executive Committee of the US National CIGRE Committee. He is on the Editorial Board of the Power and Energy Magazine. He was awarded the 2009 Outstanding Engineering Award by the Boston Chapter of the Power and Energy Society. He will be the President of the CIGRE US National Committee starting 2021. Chris is also the recipient of the CIGRE 2020 Atwood Associate Award and the IEEE PES Meritorious Service Award. He has given many technical presentations throughout the world on various utility topics.

Day 2 – Technologies & Policies for Customer Participation

Ebrahim Vaahedi
Plenary Chair, ISGT 2022
Vice President of Smart Grid Development, OATI

Dr. Ebrahim Vaahedi is the Vice President of SmartGrid Development at OATI where he leads Smart Grid solution development. He has over 30 years of experience in different segments of Energy Industry specializing in the development and execution of technology strategies for utility industry. Dr. Vaahedi joined OATI following his prior position with a major Canadian utility as Chief Technology Officer where he was accountable for developing and executing a consolidated technology plan. Dr. Vaahedi is a Fellow of IEEE, has authored many publications including a recent book in modern power system operation entitled “Practical Power System Operation”. Presently he chairs IEEE Bulk Power System Operations Committee and IEEE Smart Grid Publications Committee.

Mani Vadari
President, Modern Grid Solutions

Dr. Mani Vadari is a well-recognized electric industry leader and visionary, with over 30 years of experience delivering business and technical solutions for transmission, distribution, and generation operations, wholesale markets, Smart Grid, Cyber security/threat assessment, and Smart Cities. Mani has a multi-year track record of delivering value on a wide range of technology and business solutions.

Dr. Mani Vadari leads a team of experts to deliver complex and innovative technology, business, regulatory, and finance solutions to electric utilities, suppliers, regulators, corporate boards, and policymakers worldwide. Mani brings over 35 years of experience delivering business and technical solutions for transmission, distribution, and generation operations, wholesale markets, Smart Grid, Cyber security/threat assessment, and Smart Cities.

Mani is also an Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington, and an Adjunct Professor at Washington State University. Mani has published two popular books, “Smart Grid Redefined: Transformation of the Electric Utility” and “Electric System Operations – Evolving to the Modern Grid, 2nd edition”, and has authored over 100 industry papers, articles and blogs.

Raiford Smith
Director, Google X

Raiford Smith leads the product functions for X’s moonshot for the electric grid.

Traditional data, simulation, and analytics tools used to design and operate power systems were developed in a bygone era.  They are no longer sufficient for the digital, decentralized, and decarbonised power systems of tomorrow. At X, Raiford’s teams are working with leading utilities, system operators, and other industry players worldwide to design and develop new solutions, enabled by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, to enhance the resilience, reduce the cost, and improve the sustainability of the electric grid across the globe. Raiford has spent three decades leading energy and technology-related organizations with the goal of making power cleaner, more affordable, and more reliable. He is an international expert in energy-related technology, transformation, new products and services, and analytics.

Prior to his role at X, Raiford led Google’s global data center planning analytics, energy, water, and wastewater teams and was responsible for a multi-billion dollar budget while consistently delivering new data center capacity and hitting annual carbon-free energy targets.  Before joining Google, Mr. Smith worked in various leadership and staff roles with electric and gas utilities such as The Southern Company, Duke Energy, CPS Energy, and Entergy in analytics, smart grid, product management, energy trading, legal, mergers and acquisitions, and technology functions.

A native of Savannah, Georgia, Mr. Smith earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from the University of Georgia, a Masters of Business Administration degree from the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia, and a Juris Doctor from the Charlotte School of Law.  Raiford has also earned his Business Analytics Certificate from the Harvard Business Analytics Program. Mr. Smith is a licensed attorney and member of the North Carolina Bar Association; holds seven patents on grid optimization and electric grid technologies; has published several papers on the future of the electric grid, energy efficiency, asset optimization, and price forecasting; and has served on several advisory and not-for-profit boards.

Eric Young
Vice President of Industry Solutions, Generac Grid Services

As Enbala’s industry solutions expert, Eric provides expertise throughout use case development and system operations. Eric brings a wealth of experience to client engagements from nearly two decades of design and implementation of new and innovative solutions for electric utilities across the globe. He is a specialist in Enbala’s software applications and optimization routines. His extensive knowledge in power and utility systems is essential during the process of configuring the platform to meet desired outcomes. Eric is an accomplished executive with expertise in making sense of the digital disruption for asset intensive companies and industries. His ardency for assisting organizations move to next generation digital technologies, analytics and services, enables for a new and improved consumer experience. With 17 years at IBM and direct experience with large and mid-size enterprises in the US, Western and Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey and South Africa, Eric has developed leading-edge concepts to target specific business challenges in the areas of smart metering, predictive asset management, demand side management, reactive power management and reductions in electric curtailment. Eric holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

Ali Ipakchi
Executive Vice President of Smart Grid & Green Power, OATI

Dr. Ipakchi has over 35 years of experience in the application of information technologies to power systems and electric utility operations. As the Senior VP of Smart Grid and Green Power at OATI, he is responsible for product development and market strategy for distribution operations and smart grid areas. Prior to OATI, he was Vice President of Integration Services at a leading consulting firm, assisting utilities with technology roadmap, business and implementation strategies.. Prior to that, Dr. Ipakchi held various senior management positions at ABB and Alstom leading teams for power application and market systems development, and system solutions delivery. He has been actively involved in various initiatives under DOE, NIST, SGIP, IEEE and various ISOs. He holds a PhD from University of California at Berkeley, and is co-holder of three US patents on power systems applications and instrument diagnostics.

Day 3 – Decentralized & Distributed Grid Operations

Ahad Esmaeilian
Vice Chair, ISGT 2022

Dr. Ahad Esmaeilian is Director of Business Development at Avangrid. He leads Avangrid’s business development team across Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) region. In this role, he works across the industry sector with technology providers, developers, local and regional regulatory agencies to advance Clean Energy through interconnection of offshore/onshore Wind, Solar and other utility-scale renewable energy resources.

Ahad joined Avangrid in 2019, as the Manager of Smart Grid Innovation. Before Avangrid, Ahad was leading New York Power Authorities Smart Grid projects for 2 years. Prior to that, he was a lead scientist at Smart Grid Center at Texas A&M Engineering Lab for 5 years and has an additional 5 years of experiences in various roles including Transmission Planning, Substation & Transmission EPC and Project Management during the time working in his home country, Iran.

Ahad holds B.Sc. & M.Sc. degrees in Electrical Engineering from University of Tehran, Iran. He earned his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University, in 2017, and recently graduated with an MBA degree from Clackson University, NY. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE.

Martin Milani
Chief Executive Officer, Sunverge

As Sunverge’s Chief Executive Officer, Martin is responsible for corporate strategy, drives design and development of Sunverge’s advanced energy platform and leads delivery and operations. He is an industry-recognized thought-leader and expert on energy management systems, cloud and edge computing, Artificial Intelligence, Massive Parallel Systems, IoT, location-transparent distributed systems, Event based systems, Internetworking and SOA with over 20 years of executive and senior level experience in product design, architecture, development,  and commercialization spanning the evolution of distributed systems.

He joined Sunverge from Nexant where he was General Manager and CTO, responsible for the company’s advanced smart grid software platforms. Previous positions include CTO of Tidal Software (acquired by Cisco Systems), CEO, CTO of Intersperse (acquired by Tidal Software), CTO of iBuilding (a smart building intelligent control and orchestration platform acquired by the Carlyle Group) and Chief Internet Strategist and Technologist at Times Mirror Corporation. Before joining Times Mirror, he held senior-level technology, consulting, and distributed system architect positions at Wells Fargo, IBM, Retix, and Locus computing.

Michael Pesin
ISGT 2018 Conference Chair
Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy

Michael Pesin is Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Advanced Grid Engineering Research and Development Division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. Mr. Pesin has over 30 years of experience in the electric utility industry directing development and execution of advanced technology programs.

Prior to joining the DOE Mr. Pesin spent most of his career leading technology organizations at electric utilities where he led technology strategy development, managed research and development programs, and directed strategic programs and demonstration projects. These included substation and distribution automation, advanced metering infrastructure, communication networks and cybersecurity, energy storage, distributed generation, microgrids, electric vehicles, transactive energy, energy management and distribution management systems.

Mr. Pesin also founded and led a management consulting company working in the US and internationally with electric utilities, technology companies and investors. He was a board member at a number of technology organizations, is actively involved with many electric power industry groups, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.

Howard Gugel
Vice President of Engineering & Standards, NERC

Howard Gugel is the vice president of engineering and standards for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). In this role he is responsible for providing engineering analysis and support for NERC activities and directing all aspects of NERC’s continent-wide standards development process by providing oversight, guidance, coordination, and industry education of the development of reliability standards. His prior role was the director of performance analysis, where he was responsible for the development, maintenance, and analysis of reliability performance metrics, including those in NERC’s annual State of Reliability Report. This includes analysis of various databases of transmission and generations outages to look for statistically significant trends.

Howard has over 30 years of experience in the electric utility industry. Prior to joining NERC, he was a transmission area maintenance manager for Progress Energy Florida, managing a staff of field personnel that maintained transmission lines and substation equipment. Prior to that, he was a transmission planning manager, also for Progress Energy Florida. His background also includes management experience in operations and energy marketing. He has worked for two investor owned utilities, a rural electric cooperative, and an energy marketing firm.

Howard received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and his Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri – Rolla.  He is also a licensed professional engineer in the state of Missouri.

Matthew Futch
Head of Partnerships, Google X

Matt is currently the strategic partnerships lead for the Tapestry project at X, the moonshot factory, a division of Alphabet. Tapestry is creating a single virtualized view of the electricity system.  The team is developing computation tools that can predict and simulate what might happen on the grid from nanoseconds to decades into the future. Alongside their partners, Tapestry aims to unlock access to clean, reliable, and affordable electricity worldwide by providing greater insight into our increasingly dynamic and complex electricity system. 

Matt has worked in the global power industry in different positions for two decades focused on technology, regulation, and business partnership formation.  He is an expert in energy-related technology, utility regulation, and new products and services for the power industry. Previous to his role at Tapestry, Matt served as the strategy and business development leader at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. His work focused on aligning research priorities with critical industry partners to formulate scientifically valid projects with long term commercial value.  

Prior to his work at NREL, he was VP of Regulatory Strategy for National Grid US where he the development of a long-term utility regulatory and business strategy for three jurisdictional companies across New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, Matt holds a Master of Arts in Global Finance and International Trade from the University of Denver and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Colorado State University. He lives with his family in Denver, Colorado and is a lifelong tennis fan / player.