The western region chapters of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), represented by Western Regional Coordinator, Afarah Board, welcomed about 200 guests to its 2010 Western Regional Conference held in Pasadena California on October 6th through October 8th. The Conference kicked off with a welcome reception on the first evening at the host, Pasadena Westin hotel site. The reception included introductory words from Dan Packer, Chair of the AABE National Board of Directors, as well as remarks from Ted Craver, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Office - Edison International. The first full day of the Conference started Thursday morning with welcome messages from the Southern California AABE chapter President, David Ford and Conference Chairperson, Rodney Davis. There were also keynote remarks from city of Pasadena officials and representatives, the California Air Resources Board and AABE National President, Frank Stewart, each providing highlights of projects, environmental and energy policy-making initiatives of particular interest to the AABE membership.
The Conference theme, ‘Our Energy – Our Time’, was emphasized throughout the Conference. A panel moderated by David Owens, Chair of the AABE National Legislative Issues/Public Policy Committee, featured representatives from each of the California Investor-owned Utilities talking about major projects currently underway that should help customers with managing energy consumption, allow business to leverage energy technologies and advancements, and upgrade the current transmission infrastructure to accommodate additional and new energy sources. Other panel discussions on the first day addressed workforce readiness, alternative energy supply and the value of low-income programs. Serving as moderators, AABE members Tita Gray, President Northern California chapter, Cheryl Wynn, Rodney Davis and Carolyn Green, Past AABE National President carved out focused and visionary comments from their panelists on these topics in making sure the audience was provided with inspiring intelligence. An attendee, and energy technology entrepreneur, James Brady stated, “This was by far the best conference I have attended in the past few years as it relates to energy and the transformation of the industry.” The first day of the Conference concluded with an entrepreneur mixer, vendor trade show and special session on effectively networking and managing your brand.
The final day of the Conference started with an unexpected special keynote message from Harry Hutchison, AABE National Board member and Southern California chapter Executive Advisor which focused on customer service operations - delivering top-notch service and achieving high levels of customer satisfaction. A panel discussion on costs and impacts of greening communities generated some contrasting opinions, highlighted by AABE member and Senior Economist, Bill Dickens, who put up a caution flag on assumptions that a green economy is the panacea of economic growth envisioned and promoted by so many. Other final day session topics included discussion on diversity strategies at energy companies and building minority-owned business in the green economy. As a special option for attendees, several participated in a bus trip and tour of Southern California Edison's Smart Energy ExperienceTM at the Customer Technology Application Center. The tour is a walk-through of a near full-scale ‘smart home’ of the future which is installed with many of the most talked about energy management, efficient equipment and network controlled technologies.
The Conference concluded with a dinner on the final evening. The dinner’s mistress of ceremony, Lisa Cagnolatti, AABE Southern California chapter Executive Advisor, shared her excitement and appreciation to the planning committee involved in putting together such a great Conference. Lisa introduced the keynote speakers for the evening, California Public Utilities Commissioner, Timothy Simon and California Assembly member and Chair of the Utilities and Commerce committee, Steve Bradford. Each speaker shared very unique and clear perspective on energy initiatives, regulations and policies from their respective roles and responsibilities in the state of California. Both Tim and Steve clearly applauded the work of AABE and encouraged the organization to continue to inform all stakeholders, instigate change where and when necessary, and inspire participation at all levels of the energy regulatory and policy-making process.