Paul Hinnenkamp, chief operating officer for host utility Entergy Corp., will be one of Tuesday’s keynote speakers at DistribuTECH.
Hinnenkamp has spent 18 years with Entergy, starting out in operations support and working on various facets from environmental programs to capital projects. He was named COO in 2015.
He talked to us about Entergy, of course, his experience in nuclear power and how much technology is driving change not only within the company but industry-wide. The Day One DistribuTECH keynote begins 9 a.m. CT in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
1. This is DistribuTECH’s first trip to New Orleans. Aside from the usual things we know about the city’s attractions, what is a best-kept secret fun thing that you like about it?
“Welcome to New Orleans! I think what you’ll find most interesting, more so than anything else, are the people of New Orleans. We’re a diverse city with an incredibly kind and passionate group of locals that make up the fabric of this city. It’s truly a patchwork of unique individuals who will go out of their way to ensure you have a good experience while you’re here. I would say do as the locals do. Take a stroll and talk to people and, I think, you will pull more from those conversations than anything else the city can offer. The food’s not too bad either. And of course you are visiting during Carnival!”
2. Tell us a little about the Entergy generation mix and what you’re doing in terms of distributed energy interaction?
“Like most utilities, we are doing everything we can to ensure our power is coming from the most reliable sources possible. And like most, we’re working diligently to make sure that happens as efficiently as possible and in an environmentally-responsible way. Over the next few years, our business model includes more and more renewable sources of power and that’s something that’s important for us to achieve.”
3. You worked in the nuclear energy early on at Entergy. That is something many utilities are moving away from. But do you see a role for it and any thoughts on its future value to the generation mix?
“We continue to make calculated and responsible investments in our nuclear fleet. Investing in the long-term sustainability of Entergy’s nuclear facilities enables us to preserve the positive benefits associated with a diversified energy portfolio, such as clean power, minimal environmental footprint and stable cost benefits for our customers. Our nuclear plants are also necessary to ensure the continued reliability of our electric grid. The investment in the company’s nuclear plants aligns with our commitment to operate a leading energy business and achieve our goal of operational excellence.”
4. Data and control technologies more and more seem to be dominating how the smart grid is evolving. Where does Entergy see the greatest value in capital investment from transmission substation to the meter?
“You’re absolutely right. Technology is really what’s driving not just Entergy, but the entire industry right now. It really is the ‘what’s next’ for all of us. Grid modernization is a major part of what we’re focusing our efforts on in the next few years and the part I’m most excited about is the data we’ll learn. More than ever before, we will have real, hard proof points of how our customers are using our product. When we leverage that data properly, truly understand the outcomes that our customers are seeking and deliver those outcomes, then we will delight the customer like we never have before.”
5. You are one of DistribuTECH’s Day One Keynote speakers. Give us a little sneak preview on what you’ll be talking at the keynote?
“The utility industry is currently undergoing rapid change. I’ll be talking about Entergy and the broader utility industry. Both are being reimagined, if you will. I will share a bit of the journey we are on and where we need to be in the next few years to ensure we’re serving our customers and communities with new products and services. That’s how We Power Life!”