Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Spectrum Group International, Inc.
Affiliation and years of experience in energy and/or environment:
James R. (Jim) Johnson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Spectrum Group International, Inc., earned a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech and an MBA degree from the University of Indianapolis. He is a Registered Professional Engineer.
Jim has years of experience in working with electric utilities and related businesses, having served as a Project Engineer with Public Service Indiana (PSI), now a part of Duke Energy, in the areas of Engineering and System Planning. He served as Assistant General Manager and headed Engineering and Operations for Richmond Power and Light in Richmond, Indiana. He was Manager of Engineering and Construction and Engineering and Operations Support for Central Louisiana Electric Co., now Cleco Corporation. He also worked with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) as a Member Relations Executive, recruiting members and assuring that member companies received good value for their investment in EPRI.
Since February 2000, Jim has worked in his own business, Spectrum Group International, Inc. In that role, Jim has served as a Sales Rep for various companies that sell products and services into utilities; worked as an Intermediary in finding a buyer for a nuclear services company; and worked with a company to secure sludge and waste fiber from paper mills to use as a fuel in power plants. This last technology enabled utilizing remaining BTU content in waste paper bi-products, rather than land-filling it, producing electricity at a low cost.
Any particular achievement/interest in energy/environment you would like to mention?
EPRI develops a lot of leading edge technologies that enable major improvements in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. One of the ways that Jim was successful in his job with EPRI was to help facilitate technology transfer. Benefits/Costs ratios of 5:1 were fairly typical, and sometimes were even higher. Projects that protect the environment and improve operating efficiencies pay big dividends.
While serving as Acting Manager of EPRI’s Washington Office, Jim had an opportunity to testify before a Congressional Sub-committee on emerging generating technologies that were more environmental friendly. He has also testified before a number of State Public Utility Commissions regarding technologies.
In your opinion, what are important economic/policy issues facing the energy industry nowadays?
With intermittent energy sources such as wind, solar, tidal and small hydro, it is important to develop more efficient and economic energy storage systems. Also, it is important to not shut down too many nuclear and base load coal-fired plants prematurely due to environmental or economic concerns. These big units provide inertia to keep the electric grid up-and-running that the small renewable units just can’t perform. All of the parts of the system work together electro-mechanically. We need to get them to be in synch economically.
How long have you been a member of NCAC? Any particular NCAC memory you would like to share with us?
Jim has been an NCAC member for 4-years. Jim signed up for the USAEE meeting being held in Washington, DC and became aware of NCAC through that meeting.
Jim went on the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Producing Operations Tour in October 2011, which was organized by NCAC for the USAEE meeting. The tour included a visit to Range Resources’ headquarters in Washington, PA, and visits to some of their drilling/fracking and gas processing sites. Range is very professional and well organized. They discussed the environmental issues around fracking and explained how they operate to protect the environment.
One of the companies with which Jim was working at the time had an interest in “selling, rather than paying to land-fill” waste combustion products from fluidized-bed combustion coal-fired power plants for “fixing” sludge from gas drilling operations to make it environmentally safe to land-fill.
"I have met a lot of people at the NCAC luncheons and meetings who I hold in high regard and now consider colleagues and friends. These get-togethers are well organized and provide good, timely information and networking opportunities that I highly recommend."