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Utility Communications Networks for the Next Decade

November 10, 2011

The EcoCom SIG Presents…

Public Utilities, whether electric, gas or water, face considerable challenges in the next decade to deliver greater efficiency and operational effectiveness while dealing with stretched supply lines, the need to modernize and growing resistance to costs being passed on to end-users.  Many Utilities face one or more of the following:

•    The upgrade or replacement of aging infrastructure;
•    The modernization of systems to meet tough new environmental regulations;
•    The minimization of operating expenditures in the face of a variety of economic pressures;
•    Integration of renewable energy sources or green consumer products;
•    The adoption of new models of value creation;
•    Reaction to liberalization, convergence and competition for end customers

In many ways one of the biggest investment risks for Utilities (and for their regulators, rate payers and investors) are the telecommunications networks required to support network wide modernization, for without modern communication networks Utilities cannot take advantage of such technologies as:

•    Remote reading of consumer meters;
•    Condition based maintenance monitoring;
•    Load shedding technologies;
•    Demand response technology;
•    Remote connect and disconnect

Implementation of these communication networks, so different from the legacy systems in place today, requires a paradigm shift in understanding and thinking.  Without well thought-out and robust communication platforms, network modernization may not meet the lofty expectations that have been bandied about.  Utilities may need to understand issues including but not limited to:
•    What communications technologies to use;

•    How to effectively locate sensors in challenging topographical environments;
•    What is the availability of suitable spectrum for wireless communications;
•    How to undertake the data mining of the Terra bytes of information that can potentially be collected from the network and consumer alike.

Our panel of local Utility CIO’s and senior executives will discuss their current and future telecommunications initiatives and some of the challenges that have been identified.

Chris Baker

Chris Baker is senior vice president – support services and chief information officer for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), Sempra Energy’s regulated California utilities.  In his current position, Baker oversees information technology, supply management, diverse business enterprises, environmental services and emergency services, fleet services, real estate, land management and facilities at SDG&E and SoCalGas.  He is also responsible for the design and implementation of new systems and procedures to improve the operating efficiency and customer experience at both utilities through the operational excellence and smart metering programs.  Baker served as Sempra Energy’s director of software development from 1997 to 2000, and as information management and security administration manager from 1995 to 1997.Prior to joining Sempra Energy in 1995, Baker was a senior systems consultant with Logicon 4GT, where he worked with defense finance and accounting services.  He also worked on analysis for several government entities, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Finance and Management and the U.S. Postal Service’s National Air and Surface System.
Previously, Baker held several positions in the banking industry, including serving as section manager of information management and executive information services at HomeFed Bank, a position he held from 1990 to 1993.  Prior to 1990, he was employed with Home Savings of America, holding several different positions in their information technology division. Baker serves as a board member on CommNexus.

Geoff Stevens
CIO, Otay Water

Mr . Stevens is the CIO at the Otay Water District, in San Diego.  He is responsible for enterprise strategic planning and IT.  He has also held assignments at Sempra Energy in San Diego, and Consolidated Edison of New York.  His primary focus is on enterprise asset management and leveraging IT for strategic benefit. He has a Masters Degree in Communications Research from the University of Pennsylvania.

Ed Fraga
Director of Information Services, City of Glendale

Edward Fraga is the Information Services Director for the City of Glendale, the third largest City in Los Angeles County, and has been in that role since June 2009. Chief among the City’s IT initiatives is Smart Grid with the Glendale Department of Water and Power (GWP).  GWP was awarded a federal Department of Energy grant for $20M for Smart Grid which has spurred the development of smart grid in the City.  Mr. Fraga has led the technology aspects of that project. Mr. Fraga was with Gartner ( as a Vice President for consulting to State and Local government for 10 years prior to joining Glendale. Prior to Gartner, Mr. Fraga was a Partner in The Warner Group, consulting to state and local government for 5 years.  Prior to that, he was the IT Director for the City of Beverly Hills for 15 years.

Gary Hawkins
VP, Sun Ray Solutions Inc.

Dr. Gary  J. Hawkins has had a twenty-one year career in the wireless industry.  Gary is one of the principal consultants for  Sun Ray Solutions, Inc., and specializes in the definition, design and  implementation of wide area wireless networks.  Gary has been active in defining requirements  around Smart Grid communications networks, has been a key contributor to a  successful Utility bid for Smart Grid Investment Grant monies and more  recently has been involved in the architectural definition and design of these  communication networks.  Prior to  Sun Ray Solutions, Gary worked for Celergy Networks as their  Chief Technical Officer.  Before  this, Gary was  Vice President of Product Management (Infrastructure) with NextWave Wireless  where he was the lead point of contact between NextWave and third party  infrastructure vendors, including Huawei Technologies, who were implementing  NextWave’s unique WiMAX MXtv solution.   He has also held senior management positions with a number of companies  including Littlefeet, LCC International and Orange PCS, UK.  Dr. Hawkins received his Ph.D. in  Satellite Communications from the University Of Bristol, England.  Gary is  recognized as a Chartered Engineer by the Institution of Engineering and  Technology,  UK.

Mike Elconin, VP, Tech Coast Angeles
Maria Sendra, Partner, Baker & McKenzie
Joel Garcia, Co-Founder, CM Tech Partners
Thomas Hartman, Managing Director, Ventana Capital
Gary Hawkins, Vice President, Sun Ray Solutions Inc.
Alex Kim, Director, Customer Innovations, SDG&E
Mark Bowles, Chief Marketing Officer & Founder, EcoATM


November 10th, 2011

5:00PM Registration/Networking/Refreshments
6:00PM Program Begins
7:30PM Program Ends


Knobbe Martens
12790 El Camino Real
San Diego, CA 92130

Pre-Registration: (Please pre-register by noon on 11/9/11)
$10.00 – CommNexus Sponsor
$20.00 – Non-Sponsor
FREE –  Mentor Sponsor

At the Door:
$20.00 – CommNexus Sponsor
$30.00 – Non-Sponsor
FREE –  Mentor Sponsor

Students, Military & Press: FREE

Questions? Contact Michele Yoshioka at


November 10, 2011
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