All this week before Labor Day Energy Consumers of the Carolinas has featured different people involved in the Carolinas’ energy industry, and who work behind the scenes. So far we have featured a manufacturing production worker, entrepreneur, welding support technician, county utility expert, plant equipment sales support rep, senior test engineer (wind energy), lineman (2), linewoman, renewable (hydro) manager, solar engineer, city journeyman linemen (5!), distribution dispatcher, and a technical college chair of engineering technology. We wrap up our week with a generator service project manager, associate professor of electrical engineering, multi-family energy efficiency expert, VP of engineering specializing in combustion, and a data analytics entrepreneur.
Siemens Energy: Mutsa Kemp, Project Manager, Generator Service and Repair, Charlotte, NC
My role includes the coordination of round trip transportation of power generation equipment (generator and/or components) due for service/repair during planned or unplanned outages. My work scope includes working with the customer on equipment specifications for the procurement of unit specific repair components; partnering with manufacturing and other functions to understand capabilities and limitations of the equipment to determine solutions applicable to meet contract deliverables and need date. In addition, I gather customer specific technical documentation from data collected while the unit is the factory for the compilation and issuing of the final customer report. I serve as the liaison for all project related communications including engineering work requests and approvals throughout the service/repair process. I am also engaged at the Siemens Charlotte Energy Hub as co-lead of the Black Employee Community @ Siemens resource group and an active member of the Women’s Information Network @ Siemens group. I also represent Siemens in various education outreach activities throughout the year.
Before my current role I managed the production and delivery of the complete new apparatus generator scope which included software (transmittals) and hardware (generator and ancillary components) from contract tendering through engineering, procurement, technical writing and manufacturing.
UNC Charlotte: Valentina Cecchi, Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering; Associate, Energy Production and Infrastructure Center, Charlotte, NC
My research focuses on electric power delivery systems and I lead the Power Delivery Innovation group at UNC Charlotte. A project that I am currently working on, in partnership with colleagues from computer science and another research organization, aims at improving distribution system situational awareness by combining data driven approaches, models of the physical system, and visual analytics strategies. This would lead to improved decision making for distribution system operators.
I like to think that the research I do has the potential to impact people’s standard of living by improving energy utilization and reliability of electricity supply. I also love to work with students. It is my goal to guide them in their academic journey to become good engineers and researchers. I also strive to serve as role model and mentor to women and young girls in pursuing careers in science and engineering.
Southern Energy Management: Rachel Della Valle, Multifamily Project Manager, Raleigh, NC
Rachel works with the multifamily development team at Southern Energy Management to make senior, student, military, and affordable housing healthy and energy efficient. Most of her team’s work is in new construction, with a growing rate of renovation projects and renewable energy systems like solar PV. A certified B Corporation, Southern Energy Management’s mission is to “improve the way people make and use energy while building a prosperous company that supports people and the planet.” Says Rachel: “I get excited thinking about the energy savings and environmental impact we can have on the retrofit of a 100-year-old mill building into apartments and mixed-use space that’s powered by solar! When I’m not thinking about buildings I enjoy tracking down Brandi Carlile on tour, cheering on the NC Courage women’s soccer team with my wife and hiking at the West Point on the Eno with our dog Indy.”
Storm Technologies: Shawn Cochran, PE – Vice President Project Engineering, Albemarle, NC
Shawn Cochran has been with Storm Technologies, Inc. for more than 12 years and is a licensed Professional Engineer in North Carolina. Shawn manages his team of field service engineers/technicians both domestic and globally to improve energy unit performance, reliability, and efficiency on primarily coal fired power generation plants. By addressing the fundamentals of combustion, Storm Technologies provides real quality and results to utility and independent power producers.
Cochran was raised in Kannapolis and earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from NC State University. “I chose to come to work for Storm Technologies, Inc. because of the family-owned company atmosphere, its long history of technical expertise in the industry and the field service engineering it does around the globe.” Cochran keeps on the edge of electric generation trends. “Over the past few years we have been heavily involved with several customers that have switched fuels to a lower cost, more economical coal. Varying fuel and ash properties between different coals can have a significant impact on overall boiler performance. In field services we are able to take a team of guys with a set of specialized test equipment to a plant and obtain a complete comprehensive set of performance tests, implement a set of recommendations based off of the initial performance review and finally return to tune the boiler for optimum performance on a new coal. This has been a challenging but rewarding experience.”
Theorem Geo: John Eddins, CEO, Charlotte, NC
Theorem Geo, started in 2006, analyzes data to benefit electric delivery. Initially it was created to forecast power outage probabilities by using software that looks at meteorological data, the grid and industry facilities to help power companies know where there is likely to be a problem so they can deploy assets to keep the lights on, or get them on faster. The company has three newer tools that are gaining strength:
CartoVid is a SaaS tool that allows video to be loaded with telemetry data to get the “where” of a video. This tool combines with CartoVision, machine learning video object detection, has gotten lots of positive feedback and traction inside (several pilot efforts with different utility departments).
GISMO is a spatial analytical platform that serves as an enterprise tool for utilities
StormSuite is a set of tools that allows for utilities to prepare, coordinate and respond to storm events such as ice, hurricane, flood, fire, tornado…
We asked John how he got into the entrepreneurial angle of energy. “I stumbled into it. I was lucky enough to have a beer with a friend that worked at a utility and asked if I could help with a problem. I said I would be happy to try and fortunately that help extended into a contract. Once I was in, word of mouth was my best friend and we asked by several other departments if we could help them with a problem… twelve years later we have 25 employees and are supporting several different departments and developing software for enterprise solutions.
Whew! As we said five days ago, these are people out there in the Carolinas, right now, making sure your laptop gets power, your AC is cranking, refrigerator is running, and the electric grid is okay. People out there researching the way your electricity will be even more reliable and affordable in the future. They are out there teaching and training current energy employees and the next generation of energy employees. The Carolinas have a significant, smart, and dedicated energy workforce. They don’t make the headlines. They work behind the scenes. They are our neighbors. It is a great neighborhood!