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Nov 17, 2023 Luke Ashton

Reflections on 2023 AGA/EEI Fall Accounting Conference

As some of you may know, the team and I had the pleasure of attending the 2023 AGA/EEI Fall Accounting Conference this year in Scottsdale, Arizona earlier this month. 

For those who haven’t had the chance to attend, it’s a three-day joint AGA/EEI meeting that provides a forum for industry professionals to get together and discuss current issues that impact natural gas and electric utility industries. There are always incredible takeaways. 

I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorites here in this blog. Take a look.

  1. FERC Order No. 898

    On June 29th, the FERC announced Order No. 898. It's basically a final rule refining the FERC's Uniform System of Accounts (USofA). In the order, they provide detail on how specifically to account for certain renewables, storage technologies, and Renewable Energy Credits or RECs (now known as Environmental Credits). The new accounting rules will be effective on January 1, 2025.

    At the conference, we discussed the changes, exploring together how new assets should be categorized, what information we’ll need to start collecting, and what the implications might be for the broader teams at the utilities. The accountants in the group expressed concerns about the readiness of their regulatory teams, and the impact the changes will have on their reporting requirements. 

    It became clear to our team in the course of that conversation that there’s an enormous opportunity for HData to aid companies in the transition. Our platform will have new line items, schedules, and accounts automatically added to our compliance solutions. Any new FERC XBRL taxonomies will be automatically updated based on the new 898 rules. It should be fairly quick for us to educate regulatory teams on the changes and show them how they can work closely with the accounting teams to get ready. 

    If you want to get a jump on these conversations early, please feel free to reach out.

    FURTHER READING: FERC Establishes Revised Accounting Rules to Address Renewables, Storage, and RECs

  2. The Emerging Role of AI

    The conference had multiple sessions with coverage on emerging technologies. Artificial intelligence (AI) was a big focus, of course. But the sessions were still very open ended and, in my opinion, the group is still grappling to encapsulate how AI tools will benefit utilities. I recall one question on whether utilities are using generative AI to develop rate case testimony, and no one raised their hand. This is probably a good thing in the short term as AI matures, but I expect hands to raise more and more frequently in future conferences.

    Of course, it’s super clear to us at HData what an enormous impact AI will have on our industry, our workflows, and our level of opportunity. 

    We were excited about the chance to help create clarity and generate inspiration on what should be a very exciting trend in technology. That’s why we arrived at the event with such a dedicated focus on AI and sharing what we’ve learned about leveraging it so far. 

    We had multiple people come to our booth in hopes of better understanding how the technology is likely to impact their day-to-day work. And I think we helped sow some seeds of inspiration in those conversations. 

    For those who haven’t had the pleasure, our tool, Regulatory AI, is the first-ever artificial intelligence technology built to empower complex analysis of regulated energy data specifically. Users can ask Regulatory AI a question just like they’d ask an intern on the team and the tool will search through hundreds of thousands of data points in FERC and state filings that exist in HData’s Library plus whatever documents the user has added to their own Private Catalog. Users get answers that are specific, contextualized, and complete with attribution. Instantly. It’s a whole new way of working for those who regularly interact with regulatory data. It’s because of these advances we’ve made that I predict more utilities will embrace AI. We’re constantly blown away by what our customers create and find using Reg AI.

    We were excited to see how many people were interested in learning more about the tool and enjoyed showing it off. We’re always available for this, by the way, so don’t hesitate to schedule a demo if you’re curious, too.

    FURTHER READING: Download our free eBook Introduction to Regulatory AI: Unlocking the Value in Your Regulated Energy Data

  3. New Generations

    There was a fascinating session at the event about the newest generation in the workforce: Generation Z. The group discussed key differentiators of the cohort, sharing insights that will help conference attendees better facilitate recruitment and collaboration. 

    It was invigorating to hear about the shifting workforce. 

    One of the more exciting elements of the discussion was GenZ’s innate technological prowess. Theirs is the first generation to grow up with devices from the moment of their birth. The moderator said this generation are the tech “natives” where millennials, my generation, are tech “curious” (I still remember dial up tones). Gen Z has had access to the internet, apps, and even AI most of their lives. They expect to pick up new tech tools in their professional lives as a norm, and want to learn how to make the most of the tools available to them. We should all be looking for opportunities to enable their learning and practice using the cutting edge tools.

    The group discussed, too, the importance in utilities getting up to date on what motivates members of GenZ, what factors boost them most in their successes, and which tools and methods we should be most ready to teach them. These are the inheritors of the gas and electric industry, and it's our job to help prepare them to take the reins. 

  4. Prospective Client Meetings

    Of course, I was absolutely thrilled at all the chances we had to connect with prospective clients. Fraught though some of our arrangements would be. 

    Much to everyone’s surprise, there were TWO separate EEI events in Scottsdale Arizona on the exact same dates. So all these weeks we’ve been reaching out to arrange meetings, asking who might be attending, creating plans to meet “in the hotel lobby,” it turns out we were all talking about different conferences, different attendance plans, and—you guessed it—different hotel lobbies. Never a dull moment! But we were successful in our rendezvouses for the most part, and came away from those encounters with a lot of excitement (and a few laughs) on both sides.

Going forward, the AGA/EEI event will be consolidating to just one event in the spring. We’ll be in attendance, of course, and we’ll have some new branding to unveil! So we hope you’ll be planning to be there, too. 

Overall, it was an honor to be in attendance at the event, to speak to everyone I had the chance to meet, and to be part of the bigger conversation about the industry we’re all in.

Published by Luke Ashton November 17, 2023