Annual Public Utility Symposium

Started in 1992, the Annual Public Utility Symposium is FRI’s hallmark program. Held in September each year, the Symposium draws over 150 state utility commissioners, consumer advocates, industry executives, consultants, and academics to have open, balanced discussions about current issues affecting regulation in the water, electricity, and natural gas industries.

The 2022 industry executive panel was moderated by NARUC President Judy Jagdmann (VA State Corporation Commission) and included Kurt Adams (CEO, Summit Utilities), Jim Kerr II, (CLO, Southern Company), Cheryl Norton (COO, American Water), and SHeryl Riggs (CEO, Utilities Technology Council).

The FRI Public Utility Symposium is unique in that each year’s theme, topics, and speakers are determined by members of FRI’s Advisory Board, which is comprised of regulators, utility executives, and state consumer advocates. This helps ensure the program is timely and relevant to issues facing regulators across the country and across all our industry groups. It also helps ensure that all voices are represented. The program promotes a conversational format, including engagement with attendees.

In addition to a day full of lively discussion around pressing issues, the Public Utility Symposium also includes the presentation of FRI’s Crystal Award for Distinguished Service. The award provides an opportunity to recognize excellence and achievement across regulated industries and further promotes the mission and purpose of the FRI – to serve as a neutral environment for the comprehensive examination of sound regulatory policy.

Registration for FRI’s Public Utility Symposium is kept more affordable by the gifts of symposium sponsors. Learn more about sponsorship opportunities and benefits.

2024 Symposium: “Fearless: Planning Processes and Resilience to Deal with Extreme Weather Events”

This year’s symposium will be held Wednesday, September 18, in St. Louis, Missouri. The program includes panels on:

  • Panel I – Shake it Off: Building Resilience into a Growing Utility Load.  This panel will discuss the factors that are impacting load growth, including new manufacturing, the buildout of more data centers, increased electrification, on-site generation, and the nexus between electricity and water utilities. As industries expand and technologies evolve, the need to review these factors and how they shape the resiliency of utilities is important. Panelists will also discuss how load growth has changed integrated resource planning, resource and capital allocation, state policies, and the interactions between utilities.   
  • Panel II – Look What You Made Me Do: How to Strike a Balance of Intermittent and Dispatchable Energy Resources while Maintaining a Resilient Grid?  This panel will discuss the balance between intermittent and dispatchable sources while ensuring affordability to customers and the reliability of demand response resources. Balancing the increasing demand for intermittent sources with the growing need for reliability is crucial, particularly because major energy sources can be impacted by extreme weather events. In wholesale markets, the grid’s resilience is impacted when resources fail to perform, and understanding the impact of demand response on customers and grid load reduction is essential.  
  • Panel III – … Ready for It? Acquiring Financing with Environmental and Regulatory Uncertainty    Extreme weather events or environmental factors have impacted the financial markets for infrastructure investments. This panel will discuss how these factors have influenced risk premiums and insurance rates, including the degree to which banks can assess risk within the context of environmental uncertainty. Challenges with acquiring financing increase the cost of investment, which can increase the cost to ratepayer. Panelists will discuss how weather uncertainty or environmental regulatory uncertainty impact financing, securitization, and the financial products used by utilities and developers.  
  • Panel IV – Are We Out of the Woods Yet? Perspectives from Industry Leadership  Leaders from each utility sector will join a well-rounded discussion encompassing all of the day’s previous panels. They will provide insight into the factors impacting load growth, how to address challenges with intermittent and dispatchable energy sources, and acquiring financing through in times of regulatory and environmental uncertainty. The diverse dialogue will divulge insider perspectives on significant utility transformations, isolated from regulators and officials.   

2024 Symposium Sponsors

We wish to thank the following organizations for sponsoring the 2024 Annual Public Utility Symposium. Sponsors’ donations help defray the costs of the Symposium and make the program accessible to a larger audience. Learn more about the benefits of being a symposium sponsor.

Gold Level Sponsors
Silver Level Sponsors