CWJJ Episode 49: Investing in Yourself
CWJJ Episode 49: Investing in Yourself
March 18, 2021
CWJJ Episode 51(The Lost Episode): Rob Darden
April 1, 2021

CWJJ Episode 50: Eric Christenson

CWJJ Episode 50: Eric Christenson

Thursday, March 25- Eric Christenson joins the show today to talk about WEI, Western Energy Institute, and their plans for 2021. 

Quick Links:

Eric Christenson LinkedIn

Episode Transcript

[0:00] [music]

Jim Schauer:  [0:23] Think about electricity. All of a sudden Eric from the other side, “I spent years with Portland Gas and Electric.” I said, “How do we fix this?” He’s like, “Well, there’s a box up there on the wall, 12 feet high. We should go in there and see if a breaker tripped.”

[0:38] I said, “Sounds good.” I said, “How are we going to get up there?” Eric’s like, “Have you ever seen Cirque du Soleil?” I’m like, “Sure.” Eric’s like, “I’m going to start over here. I’m going do a cartwheel, cartwheel, back handspring, back handspring” into my hands. I’m going to lift him up. Then he’s going to fix it.

[0:55] Well, you can imagine how that turned out. Probably wasn’t the best thing, and maybe that was a little bit of an embellishment. As you can see by the size of Eric, I think I would have been on the losing side of that.

[1:05] But anyways, let’s get serious and let’s bring him here.

[1:09] [laughter]

[1:09] Jim: Did I lose you guys? Are you guys all right?

[1:13] Eric Christensen: There, there’s a [inaudible] …

[1:15] [crosstalk]

[1:15] James: Shots, shots fired.

[1:16] Eric: …clarification. It’s, I work for Portland General Electric.

[1:17] Jim: Ah.

[1:18] James: Whoa.

[1:18] Eric: Just to be sure. That’s, that’s like, those, those are my people, so you better get that one right in your story the next time.

[1:24] Jim: Portland General Electric.

[1:27] James: Hey, now. Shout out.

[1:28] Jim: All right.

[1:30] James: Good morning, Eric. Thanks for joining us. I, Jim stole my…I was gonna say the exact same intro, so.

[1:37] Eric: Oh.

[1:38] James: Never ever in my life.

[1:40] Eric: We’ll let it ride.

[1:40] James: Eric, thanks for joining. For those that don’t know Eric, Eric Christensen, and man, this next part’s gonna get…I mean, Jim coached me through it before.

[1:51] Jim: I’m gonna help you. I’m gonna help you.

[1:51] James: Director of program curriculum, I nailed it…

[1:55] Jim: Yeah.

[1:56] James: …and analytics, which just sounds right up my alley. Man, like, I feel like we’re nerd brothers.

[2:03] Eric: I’m an energy nerd…

[2:05] James: Man.

[2:05] Eric: …without a doubt. Like, if you look at my personal Google news feed is full of energy stuff. So, you know, when I’m done working, I’m still…

[2:14] James: You’re still a nerd.

[2:15] Eric: Clicking around, nerding it up.

[2:17] James: Same, same, man. I love, I love digging into data. I love seeing that kind of stuff. So anyone who has analytics in their title I’m a friend of.

[2:28] Welcome to the show.

[2:29] Eric: [inaudible] originally and finance and Internet marketing, so.

[2:36] James: Yeah. Shout out to the marketers also.

[2:39] [crosstalk]

[2:39] Eric: …probably right where the energy industry is today as it comes to [laughs] use of data.

[2:46] James: Awesome. Jimmy, what do we got to today?

[2:46] Jim: I’m ready. I am ready. I, you know, we’ve been associated with WEI for years. And Eric, being serious, it’s great to have you on the show.

[2:57] Eric: Thank you.

[2:58] Jim: And big shout out to all the team at WEI. We, you know, you, you guys do a great thing and, a lot of good for the industries, I’ll say that. And we’ll get to that in a few minutes, but let’s take it a high level, 30,000 foot.

[3:13] We’re in 2021 and, lots going on. A lot of people are at the starting blocks, ready to get going, you know, out the gate. What does, WEI have in store for 2021? What are some of the thought processes? Are you guys ready to go live, virtual? Are we gonna do a little bit of both? Bring us up to speed friend.

[3:33] Eric: We, we’ve been doing virtual events since April last year. We did it first…

[3:40] Jim: Yup.

[3:41] Eric: …before anybody else. I mean, we, we, we made the decision to shut down first before anybody else. I think it was the first week of March we made our announcement to all of our members that everything we were doing is gonna be indefinitely postponed.

[3:56] And I think that hints at the answer to when we’re gonna come out of this, which is we’re entirely driven by the safety of our members.

[4:06] James: Yeah.

[4:06] Eric: I mean…

[4:07] Jim: Yep.

[4:07] Eric: …’cause at Energy Trade Association, we share the same values as our members when it comes to safety. And our decision to shut down, literally, like the first week of March, we had our customer corporate symposium. It’s the largest, second, second largest event of the year.

[4:24] The largest sort of corporate services and customer event we do scheduled for March 9th, 2020. We pulled the plug on that on February 27th, I think, 26th, but essentially eight days before, and told everyone we’re not gonna have this, we’re not gonna put your safety at risk.

[4:41] So, you know, how do we come back? Well, we won’t until we know people are safe.

[4:45] Jim: Yeah.

[4:46] Eric: And we know that that’s the only way our utility members would’ve, would do it. They’re not gonna put their people at risk to go to one of our events when they’re not gonna put their people at risk, you know, pounding a pole or digging a trench.

[5:00] So, what we’ve done in the past year is essentially provided the same sort of hub that we do where we bring people together in a virtual space. I think we’ve done it better than most. Is it perfect? No.

[5:15] I mean, our president just sent a, a picture yesterday of when we were visiting the, the Shuttle Endeavor in Los Angeles for one of our emerging leaders program. Can you do that in the, your home? No.

[5:28] You know, you can’t watch a video about how the space shuttle went through downtown LA and how the electric company had to take down poles because this thing is huge.

[5:36] Jim: Yeah.

[5:37] Eric: Even if you did it online, it’s just not the same experience when you’re standing in front of the space shuttle. But we, you know, we’re looking at some opening maybe by the end of the summer.

[5:50] We’ll probably start with smaller groups, but it’ll be, it’ll be entirely predicated on the safety of our members.

[5:58] James: Yep. In the pre‑…

[5:58] Eric: And, And we’re not gonna get in front of that.

[5:59] James: In the pre‑show, we talked about it a little bit, but I think one of the coolest byproducts that a lot of people didn’t really consider, you know, when, when, you know, we headed down this path a year ago is how many people that traditionally were not able to travel out…

[6:18] Jim: Yep.

[6:19] James: …to, to shows. And, and here’s, here’s the thing that’s, I think, maybe a misconception in our industry a little bit, is that these shows are just about vendors and, exhibit halls and stuff like that.

[6:32] But the mass majority of what you do, and I can speak on this, I know Jim can, and Eric, you see it from a different side, a big part of this is education. I mean…

[6:43] Eric: Absolutely.

[6:43] James: …a big part of it is training that, that some people don’t, simply don’t get throughout the year. And there are sessions about the new regs coming and, you know, initiatives and things like that.

[6:53] And so, the education side is a gigantic part. And so, what this has allowed us to see is there’s a huge audience out there for so many people that simply don’t have the budget to come out, you know.

[7:07] Eric: Absolutely.

[7:08] James: They just aren’t able to do it. And we, do you know, how, what, what have y’all seen on the WEI side? I know you have an event coming up, you know, pretty soon. How’s that looking for you guys?

[7:20] Eric: So I a hundred percent agree. We’ve got a member in Edmonton that would always send three or four people to the operations conference, in fact, they chaired. A person from that organization was the chair of our operations conference.

[7:33] So they’re very active and engaged member. I think they’re sending 50‑plus people.

[7:39] James: Yeah.

[7:39] Eric: And, and their vice president told me, “In truth, it’s the same about sending three or four.” They, they budgeted for employee education and they were able to share. And I think that’s a good thing. And it’s something that will be difficult…

[7:53] James: Yeah.

[7:54] Eric: …but critical going forward because nobody has done…First of all, nobody has done what we are doing now, right? We’ve, we, we haven’t lived through a pandemic. Well, no one’s come out of that.

[8:05] Jim: Yeah.

[8:06] Eric: And how that’s going to change, because when I think of inclusivity…

[8:10] James: Yeah.

[8:11] Eric: …financial inclusivity is important too, and, and not all departments, not all people, you know, have the money, just like not all homes have money to do the things that they wanna do. And so, if we can maintain that access to those breakout sessions like you talked about.

[8:31] We have 15 different tracks that have 10 to 20 people on the leadership team that have been working together since August for their content to be delivered in April. Well, we should have as many eyeballs as we can for that. Right?

[8:49] And, and, and as you said, probably 90 percent of what we do doesn’t have a, a trade show aspect to it.

[8:55] James: Right.

[8:55] Eric: The operations conference, the trade show aspect adds to the conference. You know, it’s not, it’s not a trade show, it’s 60 vendor tables and 750 people. Yeah, that’s not a trade show, you know.

[9:07] James: Yeah.

[9:07] Eric: 16 different breakout rooms with 16 different audiences and, you know, it, it’s not a trade show, which I think our model has actually worked in the virtual sphere because the trade show is an addition to the experience.

[9:21] Jim: Yep.

[9:21] James: Awesome.

[9:22] Eric: And, and, Jim, you know that from going to the ops conference.

[9:25] Jim: Yeah.

[9:25] Eric: It’s one of those few trade shows where, oh, trade shows…

[9:28] James: Yeah.

[9:29] Eric: …conferences where vendors actually register and go to the sessions.

[9:32] Jim: Yes, absolutely. And that a great thing.

[9:36] Eric: There’s a lot of things you’re just like, “Man, I just, I’m gonna work this table, get some rest,” I don’t know, but I, you know, our vendors go on the tours on Tuesday.

[9:42] James: Definitely, yeah, that’s how we live.

[9:44] Eric: I miss that. Yeah. It’s like go visit the yards, or go visit a, a biogas plant or these other things. And I think, I think people look forward to our conference. And I think everyone’s looking forward to 2022.

[9:56] James: Yeah.

[9:57] Eric: I think, Jim, you were, were you the person that said, “When you say Los Angeles, you mean Lost Angeles,” is that your quote? Someone said when you say you go to LA, you actually go to LA, like you’re not at a, like a, like a airport hotel.

[10:10] Jim: Yeah. Yeah.

[10:11] James: Wow.

[10:12] Jim: Yeah. Yeah.

[10:12] Eric: We’re a block from SoCal Gas. We’re three blocks from, you know, LA Live. Like, I think we all wanna get back to that but we’re not gonna do it till it’s safe. But, do you want me to show you where we’re at with the ops conference? I mean, this is…

[10:24] James: Yeah, that’d be awesome.

[10:25] Eric: We’re talking about inclusivity…

[10:26] James: Wow. Look at that.

[10:28] Jim: Whoa, whoa. Are we, are we…This is like…

[10:32] James: Inception, hold on. I’m looking at…

[10:28] Eric: Yeah. So that’s a, that’s, that’s…

[10:30] James: There it is.

[10:34] Eric: This year’s sort of inspiration path, in black, versus previous years. You can see what happened in 2020.

[10:41] Jim: Wow.

[10:43] James: Hmm.

[10:44] Eric: We, we, we lost about 200…

[10:46] James: Shame.

[10:46] Eric: …plus people in two weeks.

[10:49] Jim: Yeah.

[10:50] Eric: Then we spike back up again, and some folks said, “You know what? We want to be involved.”

[10:54] It’s only a small amount of money to send somebody, or to virtually send somebody, so we bounce back a little bit, but our proof of concept was last year, and this year we’re looking at nearly a thousand people.

[11:06] Jim: That’s exciting.

[11:08] Eric: That’s incredible. We budgeted like 500, as we did our own estimate, but I’m really excited. I don’t know how we did it, quite frankly.

[11:22] Jim: I think we’re evolving. As an industry, as a country, as everything. We’re evolving into this, wherever we’re going. That’s exciting.

[11:32] Eric: Though it didn’t hurt that 50 people came from one company.

[11:35] James Cross: We’ll take it. There’s no pictures on the scorecard. 

[11:40] Eric, let’s switch gears a little bit. Let’s talk energy and natural gas, and the relationship both of them have together. I know you serve both parties as an association. Tell us a little bit about that codependency, what the view of the association is. That’s all.

[12:03] Eric: From the view of the association, it’s the Western Energy Institute, and it was probably about four or five years ago that gas companies started to be worried about what electric companies were doing, and electric companies started being worried about what gas companies were doing.

[12:21] This was during my career at WEI, not my career at PGE. We really didn’t think about Northwest Natural, except that what they want to do, their gas heating, we wanted to do heat pumps. There was this really micro competition, because who cares? It’s not a big load. It’s customer growth, but it’s not a big load.

[12:43] We started seeing the gas companies first, then the electric companies starting to get together and wonder about how is this going to look, as demand for different types of energy changes. Again, we’re not a policy‑based organization. We’re about sharing best practices, and connecting with people.

[13:03] We’re gas, electric, US, Canada, publicly owned, privately owned. If you’re in the energy business, we’ve got an energy member from Nova Scotia now. We’re not going to tell someone, “You can’t be part of this.”

[13:16] I’m not taking one side or the other on what works, but from a technical standpoint, I think what’s missed in policymakers and regulators, and quite frankly, from gas companies and electric companies, is the absolute codependence of the two. We would not have a renewable surge if gas prices were $15, and not $2 or $3.

[13:47] To me, no one talks about this, but the whole renewable infrastructure with the flexibility that’s needed to back it up, wouldn’t exist if we had 2005 prices. All the policy goals of the green energy, would not have happened without natural gas and its flexibility.

[14:08] Nobody talks about this, but it is absolutely true, because customers wouldn’t have been willing to pay what it would have cost, without cheap natural gas to begin to blend renewable energy into our electric system, and nobody says it.

[14:25] The other thing that I think is ignored, and the only person that I’ve ever seen talk about this, the one person I’ve ever seen talk about this, was Dennis Vermillion, from Avista, and when he came down he was a chair for the Western Energy Institute.

[14:39] As an organization, not just a conference, but all of our member organizations, he was a chair for a year, and he brought out a picture of greenhouse gas contributions, by everything.

[14:53] Transportation, agriculture, all these, and this little sliver, like this, is residential use of natural gas. I just feel like that’s OK, there are other sources of greenhouse gas, and I’m a greenie. I’m from Portland, Oregon.

[15:13] We’ve got our garden, my wife won’t let me use Roundup. We have a Hybrid Highlander, my mom has a Prius, I yell at the kids for, “Oh my God, it’s 78 degrees in here.” That reason right now.

[15:30] James: You just fixed it. We could see it in the reflection.

[15:31] Eric: I’m absolutely a greenie, but I’m not going to ignore my pragmatism.

[15:36] James: Yeah, you’re also a realist.

[15:38] Eric: We need the flexible use that gas causes. We’ve got folks that want us to burn gas to create electricity, to send electricity to heat baseboard heating. Have you ever heard a worse idea than that? The worst, most inefficient heating source in your house.

[15:55] Most costly, powered by electricity that’s burned by natural gas to create hear, to make steam, to spin a turbine, to put on a wire that you’ve got to put in, to get to your house just to get heat. If we have an existing gas distribution system, there’s less carbon if I just burn it right here.

[16:14] I get frustrated with this, because I say, “Plant more trees, more green roofs, stop deforestation, let’s figure out other issues,” but this micro‑target, or this super target on the natural gas distribution system, to me it’s like changing the names of high schools when kids aren’t going.

[16:36] Your kids sit at home, and they’re worried about what the name of the high school is. Well, no one’s there. I appreciate the effort, and the the reasons why, but the reason for the school is for the kids.

[16:49] Let’s work on that, and then we’ll work on the naming of the high school, and the business cards, and the stationary, and the wall pictures. If there’s no one there at the school, it’s like the gas‑electric thing. Let’s focus on the big problems.

[17:05] James: That was a tangent. Eric just went on one.

[17:06] Jim: That was some passion coming through in that man, right there.

[17:17] Eric: I care about the environment, Jim, I truly do.

[17:21] Jim: I know you do. No, I know you do.

[17:25] Eric: You just can’t make stuff up and pretend it’s real.

[17:28] Jim: Two things. One, I think you hit on a good point, is that education, and for people to understand and really to be educated, and not pseudo educated, but educated as to what it happens.

[17:42] I’ll tell you, me, from Minnesota, 20 plus years in Minnesota, if I had to have electric baseboard heating in Minnesota versus a natural gas furnace, I probably could not have afforded it, and we’re talking about Minnesota.

[18:06] Eric: It’s worse for the environment. It costs you more, costs your customer more, and it’s worse for the environment. Why are we doing this?

[18:13] Jim: That brings up another point, too. I get this a lot of times. I’m a natural gas guy, I’ve lived it for 20 some years, so I talk about Henry Hub, and [inaudible] on pricing and trade, and all that, and then people bring up electric market, and I’m not an electric guy.

[18:32] They say, “We run the air conditioner all the time and our bill was…blank.” Well, we run it two hours a day because our bill is $500 a month.

[18:45] Can you give us a quick synopsis, or understanding of electric rates, and some of the things that you’ve seen, or you teach to the members to help understand that, because I think it’s a big topic these days.

[18:57] Eric: I can give you my perspective on how electric rates are changing. The way they are today is pretty much how they’ve been for most places, with the exception of maybe Alberta and Hawaii, and a little bit of BC. Electric rates have always been based on how much stuff you own as an organization.

[19:18] I’ll just draw, what the hell, I always do this. This is your company’s assets. This is all the steel in the ground you have, this works for gas too. If you build more things, you make more money. You put assets in the ground, you get a return on those assets.

[19:44] The commission’s not probably going to let your return rate go up, that’s been ever‑declining, so you just make your assets go up, and that’s been the model. The problem for utilities is they don’t need all the power plants they used to need, all the big assets they used to build every three or four years to keep the asset up. That’s gone.

[20:09] Utility assets are basically being put in the distribution system now, and there’s probably a finite amount of money you can stick there. There’s only so much you can do when you’re not building $300 million power plants. We rolled out an AMI system. It’s a massive three‑year project, it was about $120 million. One power plant’s $300 million.

[20:34] Your full distribution wide new meter replacement, new technology, plus your warehouse and all these other things, is a third of the asset of the power plant. What’s happening is, as people sell power back into the grid through whatever, you see the utility rate base, or assets, go down, so they make less money.

[20:57] What’s happening is everyone is going to be drinking PBR. You may know it as Pabst Blue Ribbon. What’s going to happen over time is instead of being just asset‑driven, it’s going to be performance‑based rate‑making.

[21:19] That’s going to be one thing where we’re going to tell the utility, “You can collect $2 billion, in customers, and you charge them this rate.” Next year, we’re going to inflate that by two percent, the next year is going to be two percent, the next year is going to be two percent, and we’re going to get five years of simple rate‑making.

[21:42] It’s been in Alberta for over 10 years, Hawaii just rolled it out. Everyone’s looking at it, and the concept is let’s decouple, to use an industry term, let’s decouple our asset base, our rate base, from the money we make.

[21:59] Let’s not force us to build more assets, when sometimes the right choice is an O&M contract, or a lease, or working with a contractor, or these other things that other businesses do, but utilities, they want assets, so their decision‑making is driven by the rate‑making model.

[22:20] It’s not wrong, because there’s still our prudency review, you can’t spend your money on anything, but I think we’re going to be pushing towards performance‑based rates over the next decade. The other thing that will happen, and is happening, on the electric side, is the way customers are billed.

[22:38] This is how the big company makes money, but I think, Jim, your point about, you’re a gas guy, and thinking of the electric eye, we need to think of the minds of our customers, who are not electric people, or gas women, or electric men.

[22:53] They’re just customers, and they’re not going to know things that even our own employees don’t know, that’s why we do courses. Sometimes the electric and gas folks are very smart. Engineers, statisticians, designers, builders, construction workers, field workers, it’s a technical field, but sometimes they forget that most people don’t care.

[23:16] Light goes on, light goes off. This is what most people’s understanding of business is. The second piece of the rate‑making is how it’s built. What I see happening, and already happening, is a higher base fixed charge.

[23:32] When we first had cell phones it was by the text. $.10 a text, or $1, 20minutes, you remember these days of, “who’s got the best price on texts,” right?

[23:46] James Cross: Unlimited text.

[23:48] Eric: It seems like a pipe dream, but you have basic, or fixed charge, or base charge, or standard fee, every place calls it something different, but we’ve seen as high as $32 in some places. You want to connect to the wire? We’re charging you $30 a month.

[24:10] For a long time that’s been $, or $5, or $10. Raising it to $10 is a stink in any jurisdiction. What happens is, you’re collecting all your money by selling energy. What about the house that has a battery in the basement, and solar on the roof, and maybe a small little wind turbine, because those are common.

[24:31] Distributed wind turbines are on their way. They look crazy. I won’t bring up the video because I want to keep it PG‑13, but there’s a thing you can look up called a skybrator, and it wiggles in the wind, and it makes electricity.

[24:48] James: I know exactly what you’re talking about.

[24:49] Eric: [laughs] Yeah. These things are coming, so what is the utility view? They stick the wire to your house when your sky isn’t vibrating, the sun isn’t glowing, and your battery runs out, they’re going to have to charge you [inaudible].

[25:01] James: It’s more of a Netflix model. I’m going to subscribe to what I need.

[25:08] Eric: The difficulty thing will be, we’ve used rate design by charging by the kilowatt hour, or I guess, by the dekatherm. Billing in gas is crazy. Measure by volume, but you build by energy. Try explaining that to a customer.

[25:26] James: You don’t have a big enough light for it.

[25:28] Eric: Having all the costs in the usage of the product or service, it’s naturally an energy‑efficiency campaign. If you take the cost of texting out, how much texting do you do? You can take the cost of watching a movie on Netflix out, and you just pay a base fee, how much Netflix do you watch?

[25:54] If you had to pay for each one, even if it were $.20, which is a nominal fee, you might say, “I don’t know if I want to watch that show. I don’t want to spend $.20 on that,” but that’s what you’re spending on, on average.

[26:09] That’ll be the struggle. We’re going to need to move the fixed charge, and maybe we put a penalty in this, say, “Hey, you use over this amount, your fixed charge doubles.” You’ve got to have some sort of creative way to say, “You still need to conserve energy, even though we’re not paying you for it.” It may exist on the demand charge level.

[26:26] James: That’s why, Jim, this is why we have a director of analytics.

[26:32] Eric: Program curriculum.

[26:34] James: [laughs] Don’t get it twisted. Yeah.

[26:35] Eric: We teach this stuff.

[26:37] James: I just didn’t want to say curriculum again.

[26:38] Eric: Here’s some names for you. You guys remember Dave Williams from NW Natural? Vice‑president.

[26:43] Jim: Yeah.

[26:43] Eric: How about Vaughn Justin from Dominion Energy?

[26:47] Jim: Yeah.

[26:48] Eric: Or Questar previously, and Joyce Wagner from FortisBC? These are our instructors for our gas course. I get to learn from them on the gas course.

[26:58] James: So awesome.

[26:58] Eric: Two are vice‑presidents, one was a senior director of communications, and they’re just doing it because they love it, so I don’t get all the credit for what I’ve learned about the gas.

[27:09] James: That sounds like some guests we need to have, Jimmy.

[27:11] Jim: Yeah. Absolutely names [inaudible]. Go ahead.

[27:16] James: Eric, I think we’re going to wrap this thing up, but we have one question we ask almost everybody. You’ve passed the test, so I’ll ask you too.

[27:29] Eric: What?

[27:29] James: Eric, if you don’t mind, do you love what you do?

[27:39] Eric: Depends.

[27:39] [laughter]

[27:39] James: Today?

[27:43] Eric: No, I’m too busy. These classes take two days. I did 10 from the end of January to the end of February. If you saw my screen there were four days I wasn’t teaching. That’s too much.

[28:03] If it’s twice a week, I love it, if it’s 20 out of 22 days, and I’ve got to run the operations conference, it’s a little struggle, got to be honest. But do I love what I do overall? Absolutely. There’s a lifetime of learning in the energy business.

[28:22] Jim: There is, we’re always learning, we’re always getting better.

[28:26] Eric: Our course that we teach, again, I’m not an expert in every area. We tell people it’s 160 years long, and two inches deep. We’re going to go all the way back to Faraday, and all the way through the next IRP.

[28:40] In any page on that is a career. If you just opened the book and dropped it, and see what page opened, there’s someone who spent their whole life on that page. You just pick apart, and we’ve so many things in the energy business. Policy, finance, HR, cybersecurity.

[29:12] Who was it? I don’t know who it was, I don’t know who I was talking to, it was about the issue with COVID‑19 and everything shut down. Think back to March, we’re beginning to open up as more people get the vaccine, which is great, we went to a hotel, a staycation for a day, whatever, but through it all, the lights stayed on, and the gas kept flowing. It takes a lot.

[29:52] Jim: Takes a village.

[29:54] Eric: It takes a one in 100‑year storm, or a three‑day ice storm, and guess what? As much as people complain, we’re back up every day. [inaudible] crashes, they shut down building it for a year and a half. The power goes out, we’ve got people out there working on it. The gas goes out, you’ve got people blocking it off and getting the pipe.

[30:16] Jim: 24/7, 365.

[30:19] Eric: It is an incredible industry to work in, and if you don’t see that, and are in awe, then you really aren’t seeing it.

[30:28] James: Amen.

[30:28] Jim: Eric, on behalf of James and I, we want to thank you so much. I could probably keep going, and going, and going.

[30:36] Eric: I told you.

[30:38] James: Longest episode ever, Part 3 will be next week.

[30:41] Eric: Oh!

[30:41] James: Nah, I’m just kidding.

[30:42] Jim: Audience, please, follow Eric, follow WEI, get involved, learn something, become educated. Do all those good things. Eric, again, thank you so much on behalf of James and I. Until next week, on “Coffee with Jim & James,” everybody please stay safe, and have a great day. Take care.

[31:03] Eric: Thanks for the invitation.

[31:04] James: Thanks, Eric.

[31:05] Jim: Oh, always, brother, always.

[31:06] James: Bye‑bye, everyone.

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