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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lessons Learned from a Conference in Tennessee

(Written by Deborah Hendrickson, Women in Law Committee vice-chair.)

I just returned from a 4-day conference in Nashville, Tennessee. It was sponsored by the American Public Power Association.  I was educated, entertained and inspired and thought I would share some of my impressions and thoughts.

Educated ---I attended the conference to gain education and information as a member of the board of our public utility company.  I went to a number of “breakout” sessions to learn more about the issues related to public power today.  I found particularly informative an update on federal regulations related to electric power resources (coal, gas, nuclear, hydro, renewables), the environment, cyber security, water rights, and many other subjects.  I was struck by how complex it is to work through all of the different policy considerations, and adjust to changing regulations, and how the policies and regulations interrelate with one another.  I was grateful for legal training that has taught me how to interpret, analyze and understand statutes, regulations and policy making.  I appreciate the opportunity to work on these issues for our community.

Take Away #1: Public energy policy issues are complicated!

Entertained --- The entertainment at the conference was a concert by a very talented and well-known country western singer, Jo Dee Messina.  She seemed to be putting everything she had into her performance, but also seemed a little “disheveled” (for a music star performing on stage --- i.e. her hair, makeup and dress didn’t look all that flattering.)  But about half way through her performance, while making “conversation” with the audience, she explained that her mother has been in intensive care for several weeks and she was spending every possible minute at her bedside and that she had prepared for the show while in her mother’s hospital room.  All judgments melted away as I thought about how hard it must be to perform in public under such circumstances.  Reminded me of the days I’ve had to appear in court when frankly, I really didn’t feel up to it.

Take away #2: When others are counting on you, the show must go on!

Inspired --- After several days of hearing about all the incredibly complex and difficult issues facing our country in the energy area, I guess the organizers figured we needed a little uplift.  The culminating general session of the conference was entitled “Achieve the Impossible.” The presenter was James Bradley, author of “Flags of Our Fathers”, the inspiring story of the men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, one of which was Mr. Bradley’s father.  He told of the challenges in learning these men’s stories after his father’s death, by a lot of interviewing and research.  Ironically, his Father had never mentioned or talked about any of it during his lifetime.  It was only after his death that Mr. Bradley’s family discovered old letters from that period of his father’s life.   The incredible battle (“against all odds”) that culminated in the conquering of Iwo Jima, Mr. Bradley’s seemingly insurmountable quest to learn the stories of the men in the most famous photograph of all time, and the individual stories of the men themselves were inspiring and sent me home with a renewed spirit of energy and determination.

Take away #3 --- We can achieve the impossible!

I came home counting my blessings and eager to be part of the solution, not the problem … hope you are too!

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