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Power Plays

Business & Economics Podcasts

Welcome to Power Plays, a podcast series dedicated to the U.S. power and energy sector. Hosted by Teri Viswanath, lead energy economist with CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division, Power Plays connects you with top energy and environmental innovators, policy makers and rural electric cooperative executives for timely insights and in-depth market analysis.


United States


Welcome to Power Plays, a podcast series dedicated to the U.S. power and energy sector. Hosted by Teri Viswanath, lead energy economist with CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division, Power Plays connects you with top energy and environmental innovators, policy makers and rural electric cooperative executives for timely insights and in-depth market analysis.






The Trouble with Transformers and Other Tales of Supply Chain Woes

Transformers of all types are now harder for utilities to source, delaying everything from infrastructure for electric vehicles to building new homes. In response, buyers and sellers are both changing the way they do business. Hear more from buyer Peter Muhoro of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, the nation’s third largest electric co-op, and seller Tim Mills, the president and CEO of ERMCO, a transformer manufacturer.


The Role of Partnerships in Accelerating Rural Broadband

COVID‐19 intensified rural areas’ challenges that come with the lack of internet access. So when electric co-op members spoke up, management teams listened. How did they accelerate access? Two neighboring Georgia electric co-ops found solutions as unique as their communities: Tri-County EMC became its own internet service provider; Central Georgia EMC contracted a company to operate its fiber network and deliver broadband service. Their CEOs explain why these were the right choices for their co-ops.


How Member Voices Guided Their Electric Co-ops’ Investments

From becoming a trusted energy advisor on EVs in Tennessee, to evolving from energy provider to partner in Arizona, to blazing the broadband trail in Arkansas, electric co-ops are leading in very innovative ways, leaving no one behind. Recorded on the exhibit hall floor of NRECA’s TechAdvantage conference in Nashville, three electric co-ops describe how hearing their members’ experiences put the co-ops on new paths.


Why Electrification Matters: Florida Co-op Linemen Change Lives in Guatemala

In celebration of the 60th anniversary of NRECA International, this episode of Power Plays features Florida co-op employees who helped the program to electrify a small village in Guatemala. Steve Rhodes, CEO from CHELCO, outlines the project’s origins and stunning logistics. Jason Price with CHELCO and David Lambert with Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative Inc. describe how they managed volcanic rock, rudimentary tools and a language barrier to complete a life-changing mission.


Nuclear Power 2.0: Is a Renaissance on the Horizon?

An evolving energy landscape and significant federal incentives are not only changing the economics of nuclear power, it’s radically changing how utilities look at investments to meet decarbonization targets. In this episode, Dairyland Power executives talk about their decision to add advanced nuclear technology to their energy portfolio. They are joined by experts from TerraPower and the Nuclear Energy Institute to explore the potential of smaller, modular reactors to deliver reliable, cost-effective energy.


The Lithium Supply Crunch Doesn’t Have to Stall Battery Storage

For our end-of-year podcast, we looked into the notable issues with the power equipment supply chain in a discussion with Exawatt’s CEO Simon Price and battery research scientists at the firm. While some warehousing challenges might ease in 2023, competition for battery materials will probably only intensify. Our interview explores long-term solutions such as efficient material use and recycling opportunities, and how storage technologies will likely evolve.


Rising Natural Gas Prices Prompt Utilities to Think Globally, Act Locally

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Europe scrambled to line up U.S. LNG. Now gas exports are driving up fuel and electricity prices at home. Mark Finley, energy economist and Baker Institute fellow, and Charles Blanchard, author of “The Extraction State: A History of Natural Gas in America,” weigh in on this new era of globalization. Leaders at affiliated Texas utilities CoServ Gas and CoServ Electric, Charley Harrell and Gary Franzen, share their fuel hedging strategies.


A Tribute to Co-ops: Leaders Weigh in on ESG Principles as Part of Their DNA

U.S. cooperatives have successfully run for more than a century by adhering to key principles and core values that stand the test of time. Now with ESG on the radar of consumers and investors, co-ops are well positioned to show how their fundamental values align with ESG philosophies. We catch up with the leaders of Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative, GreenPoint Ag, and Blue Diamond Growers to hear about their ESG journey.


Money Matters — Financial Feasibility for Broadband Projects

As many rural communities are looking to their electric co-ops to provide broadband, co-ops are scoping out what it means to enter, invest, and operate in this unfamiliar business. CoBank’s Tamra Reynolds and Doran Dennis talk due diligence and financial feasibility with Jeffrey Connor, the chief operating officer at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and hear what co-ops should know before becoming broadband providers.


Back to School in an Electric Bus

In the next five years, EPA’s new Clean School Bus program will give communities $5 billion to replace diesel school buses. CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds go to the head of the class with those already putting electric buses on the road: Albert Burleigh, executive director of EV sales at Blue Bird Corporation; Keith Dennis, president of the Beneficial Electrification League; and Chris Michalowski with Mountain Parks Electric in Colorado.


Don’t Be Afraid of Your Electricity Bill

As electric co-ops balance affordability and reliability, how should they price electricity? CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds consider evolving rate design with respected author and renowned energy economist Dr. Ahmad Faruqui, and Allison Hamilton, director of rates and market design at NRECA. Then they follow with two co-ops’ very different but fascinating rate journeys, speaking with Mark Johnson, general manager of Flathead Electric Cooperative, Kalispell, Montana, and Ed VanHoose, president of Federated Energy Services Cooperative in Ohio.


Connected Smart Homes Coming Soon to an Electric Co-op Near You

Solar panels, backup generators, smart home devices: As more consumers adopt disruptive technology, what does it mean for electric co-ops? CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds explore the way forward as consumer technology upends the traditional relationship. Their guests include J.T. Thompson with Generac Grid Services, Nora Barr Hennings with Sunrun, and Jim Bagley, CEO of United Electric Cooperative in Missouri, who shares the win-win solutions he’s creating with his members.


Connected and Committed: Meet the Partners Helping to Close the Rural Digital Divide

The spirit of the rural electrification movement of the 1930s is alive today as electric cooperatives leverage federal support to close rural America’s digital divide. In this episode, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath, Tamra Reynolds and Doran Dennis showcase success stories from co-ops providing rural communities with reliable, affordable broadband access. Guests include Carl Meyerhoefer, senior vice president of business development at Conexon; Aaron Bennett, vice president of broadband development at NRTC; and Colin Wood, CEO of TWN Communications. Listen as they share the keys to effective broadband partnerships and multiple paths to a successful outcome.


Power Plays S2E4: Planning for Tomorrow’s EV Adoption Begins Today

Around 15,000 fully electric or hybrid electric vehicles were traveling American roads in 2011; today that number exceeds 2 million and is accelerating rapidly. But is the U.S. power grid ready to meet the expanding charging needs? In this episode, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds are joined by a cast of experts to discuss the state of EV readiness in the U.S. Guests include Brian Sloboda of NRECA; Scott Hammond of Central Electric Power Cooperative and Peter Muhoro with Rappahannock Electric Cooperative. Listen to their discussion for insights from a variety of perspectives.


Power Plays S2E3: Inside Ford’s Strategy to Lead America’s Shift to Electric Vehicles

Recorded in the CoBank booth at the NRECA Annual Conference, in this episode of Power Plays CoBank’s Teri Viswanath talks with Dave Hurst, energy services manager with Ford Motor Company. He reveals what the company has learned as it embraces the EV market. Plus, Dr. Gil Tal, director of the Electric Vehicle Research Center at UC Davis, unpacks the factors ahead for EV adoption – including manufacturers’ role to make or break the market.


Power Plays S2E2: Reimagining Route 66: Co-ops Collaborate with EV Charging to Reinvigorate Rural America

The future of automobiles is clearly electric, and rural cooperatives across the U.S. are plugging in to ensure their communities are equipped with a robust EV charging infrastructure. In this episode, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds visit with Nate Boettcher, CEO of Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services in Wisconsin. Boettcher also serves as president of CHARGE EV, a coalition of nearly 70 co-ops that’s joined forces to build a thriving rural ecosystem for electric vehicle adoption. He explains why building regionally connected corridors will be critical for rural communities in the era of EVs. Plus, Brian Cavey, CoBank's senior vice president of government affairs, discusses the impact of two pieces of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that are critical to rural America—EV charging infrastructure and broadband access.


Power Plays S2E1: When a Crypto Miner Comes to Town

Crypto currency mining operations are known as massive energy consumers. So how should electric utilities evaluate this new class of consumers when they ask for service? In this episode of Power Plays, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds interview an A-team of experts: journalist Jael Holzman with E&E News who covers crypto currency; former utility and power executive Steve Wright, who recently testified to Congress about the energy impact of crypto miners; and expert Elaine Johns, CEO of the technical consulting firm EnerVision, who shares how utilities can make a savvy strategic decision.


Power Plays S1E13: HVAC 2.0 – Home Comfort and Efficiency Isn’t Just Hot Air

To keep a house comfortable and the temperature stable, the key is to trickle in the right amount of heating or cooling, instead of blasting it – like a shower instead of a bucket of water. In this episode, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds speak with Nate Adams, author of The Home Comfort Book, co-founder of HVAC 2.0, and a partner of Energy Smart Home Performance. Learn how HVAC equipment has improved in recent years, and the important role that energy from surfaces plays in determining a home’s comfort.


Power Plays S1E12: Battery Storage Basics - What Co-ops Should Consider

A decade ago, many referred to grid-connected energy storage as a solution without a problem. Now we know it's the enabler of the grid of the future. In this episode, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds speak with two battery storage industry leaders. Chris Wright, executive director of the energy storage practice for E3 Consulting, is a veteran battery storage developer. Dr. Peter Muhoro is chief strategy, technology and innovation officer at Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, the first co-op in Virginia to roll out a utility-scale battery. Listen for insights on how batteries are providing operators with flexibility and agility and what co-ops should consider before developing their own energy storage.


Power Plays S1E11: High Five to Top Five Co-op Innovations

In this episode of Power Plays, CoBank’s Teri Viswanath and Tamra Reynolds celebrate National Co-op Month by sharing stories of innovation and resilience from five electric co-ops across the country. From keeping the heat on during the worst of a winter storm to providing internet service to customer-members in need, these stories will inspire.