University of Minnesota


DTC Leading Edge Seminar Series

The Promise of Smart Grid for 21st Century Utilities: The Challenge to Policymakers


William L. Glahn
Director, Office of Energy Security
Deputy Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Commerce

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
3:30 p.m. reception
4:00 p.m. seminar

401/402 Walter Library

View webcast of this seminar

William L. Glahn

As energy utilities undertake the hard work of transforming their industry — which dates back to the 19th century — with 21st century information technology (IT), a need arises for new business models and new regulatory forms to accommodate change. This presentation will outline the challenges facing policymakers to make smart grid work for customers, utilities, and others. Imagine a world where rooftop solar, small-scale wind, micro turbines, fuel cells, anaerobic digesters, and other forms of clean energy generation turn every farm, home and business into mini-utilities, joined together by micro-grids. Picture "smart" appliances which run remotely, over the internet, responding to customer preferences (saving money, saving energy, a little of both) just in time. Similar to the way IT has revolutionized every industry from retail, to media, to government, the application of IT to energy utilities may help reduce costs, stretch resources, create efficiencies, and promote our environmental goals. For 21st century utilities, managing information will be as important as delivering energy. Balancing distributed generation with demand response technologies, while maintaining high levels of reliability and customer privacy, will provide a daunting challenge to traditional utilities. New companies and old will be expected to innovate, packaging bundles of features that customers want and are willing to pay for (home security, internet access, bill payment) along with energy supply at flat, or at least predictable, prices. This promise of a "bottom up" strategy to capitalize on Smart Grid will require regulators to tackle any number of thorny problems, including security, privacy, property rights, and cost recovery, to name a few. This presentation will take on some of the more immediate issues.


In August 2008, Governor Tim Pawlenty announced Bill Glahn’s appointment as Director of the Office of Energy Security and Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Commerce. Before his appointment, Mr. Glahn was the principal of Piedmont Consulting, an energy management consulting firm. Previously, Glahn served as Vice President and Controller of Avant Energy, the management firm for the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency. He received his BA in Economics and his MBA from the University of Virginia.

Contact Information

Digital Technology Center

499 Walter Library, 117 Pleasant Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: (612) 624-9510

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