Les Goodman recently took his 39 years of increasingly detailed and rich utility engineering and management experience to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) where he is a director in the firm’s Advisory Practice offering enterprise asset management services to gas utilities and power companies.
P&GJ caught up with Goodman for a perspective on the ever-changing natural gas business.
P&GJ: Briefly tell us your role at PwC and your background.
Goodman: I have worked in the natural gas industry for my entire career, having had roles at a number of different levels across the gas utilities industry, including senior-level positions at gas utility companies, pipeline construction companies and a gas pipeline engineering firm. At Boston Gas, I was the general manager of field operations, and my responsibilities included managing distribution and customer service, followed by holding the position of director construction. At Washington Gas, I served as the division head of construction responsible for new business and replacement construction, system planning, GIS, construction design, contract management and contractor alliance. At EN Engineering, I held the position of vice president, responsible for East Coast operations where we provided pipeline design and engineering for gas utility companies in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
I recently joined PwC as a director in the advisory practice providing EAM (Enterprise Asset Management) services to utilities and power companies. My role is to help prepare the client for critical EAM implementations. I help create new roles and responsibilities for the client’s operations personnel prior to the EAM implementation, identify industry-leading practices for work processes, establish design, engineering, construction and materials standardization and testing applications for the client so they are in the best possible position to effectively launch and manage their EAM implementation.
Utilities and power companies are asset-intensive companies, so it’s important that they are fully utilizing, and have accurate information about their assets to improve overall operating efficiency. Since the industry is heavily regulated, companies must be in compliance with state and federal regulations while managing their assets. I’ve observed several companies purchase and implement work-and-asset management systems, but they didn’t properly prepare the business for the implementation, thinking that all you need to do is flip a switch and let the application do its thing.
In preparing the business for the system, it’s important to fully understand how they have been operating, the “as is,” and how they want to operate in the future, the “to be,” and understand how the system will be configured to achieve operating efficiencies. Most utilities and power companies are made up of many smaller companies that have merged or have been acquired. Employees of the former small company bring different operating practices, so they need to be brought together to select the leading practices and operate efficiently as one, and that’s what we help to ensure happens prior to new EAM systems being put in place.
P&GJ: What is the PwC mission and structure today?
Goodman: PwC’s global footprint, depth of resources and range of experiences give the firm a unique perspective that is crucial to identifying and understanding the dynamics and volatility of the utilities and power generation marketplace. In the United States, PwC counts more than 400 clients in the electric, gas, water, and green energy sectors with unparalleled capabilities and solutions to help them gain operating efficiencies across the business value chain.
In terms of structure, PwC has more than 3,000 professionals serving utilities and power generation clients worldwide, who specialize in running utilities operations more effectively and efficiently and provide help in the area of risk management. Some of the focus of our work includes rate regulation, financial and commodity risk management, customer care, asset management and maintenance, human capital management, among other areas.
P&GJ: Do you see major changes looming in the way the distribution industry operates and how is PwC preparing for those changes?
Goodman: Recently, there have been new federal regulations established, one in particular being DIMP (Distribution Integrity Management Plan). Companies are expected to know their distribution system, identify threats to the system, rank and address risks, measure their performance and perform periodic evaluation and improvement to their plan. In the past, utilities and power companies utilized several separate compliance, tracking and work management systems where one system wasn’t talking to the other.
The outcome usually was that management didn’t get a clear picture of the overall distribution system to make informed business decisions such as to repair or replace leaking pipelines. It’s important to understand and know all the risks of the system, then take the appropriate steps to address the risks. Many utilities may decide to develop infrastructure replacement programs to address risk. PwC has the experience and knowledge to assist utilities and power companies in developing risk-based replacement programs, including identifying conditions and threats, ranking and prioritizing replacement segments, establishing jurisdictional collaboration, developing optimal design and construction standards, determining resource needs and developing program communication plans.
We’re also facing an issue in terms of human capital. In the late ’50s and early ’60s, gas companies were converting from manufactured gas to natural gas and building their employee ranks to deal with the increased demand for the safer, more efficient product. Those hires have stayed while the industry hasn’t groomed the next generation of workers. Now, large groups of experienced people are retiring, and recent engineering graduates aren’t as attracted to the industry as a whole.
The shortage of talent is a major issue for utilities and power companies and PwC is helping them prepare, adjust and rebuild the employee base by working with them to understand the risks they’re facing and immediate needs in the short- and long-term as the industry continues to move forward amidst new regulations, environmental concerns and new domestics supplies.
P&GJ: Tell us a bit about yourself, your family, and what you enjoy doing when you have some personal time available.
Goodman: I spend most of my out of office time with my family. I have four children and five grandchildren living in Virginia and Massachusetts. We’re very close and try to visit as often as possible, including our annual Thanksgiving family trip to the Caribbean. When we’re not visiting with the kids and grandkids, I enjoy golf, walking the dog and traveling with my wife.
I’m also very involved in industry organizations and associations. I am a member of the American Gas Association DC&M Committee and on the Steering Committee of GIROW (Gas Industry Right of Way).
Lester Goodman can be reached at 703 853-9237 or email@example.com.