Former AEP exec joins Blackstone's GridLiance

GridLiance has tapped Calvin Crowder, an executive from one of the largest electric utilities in the US, to serve as president of the South Central Region.

Electric transmission company GridLiance has chosen electric utility veteran Calvin Crowder, who most recently worked for American Electric Power (AEP), to head up the company's business development activities across several states.

In his new role as president, south central region, Crowder will establish new partnerships with municipal, cooperative and joint action agency utilities; source transmission asset acquisitions; and recruit additional members to the business development team. He will also be a member of the company's executive team.

The region he will be responsible for includes Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, which comprise part of the region served by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO); the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market; and New Mexico. He will report to Carl Huslig, senior vice president, business development.

Crowder brings 25 years of experience to GridLiance, 16 of which he spent at AEP, one of the largest electric utilities in the US, in roles of increasing responsibility. Most recently, he served as executive director, Electric Transmission Texas (ETT) for AEP and president of ETT, where he led the establishment of AEP's first transmission joint venture and its growth to $3 billion in assets, GridLiance said in a statement.

During his tenure at AEP, Crowder also led the RTO (Regional Transmission Organisation) and public policy team, which was responsible for the development and advocacy of policy positions across an 11-state AEP footprint.

“Calvin is a highly-regarded electric utility industry executive who brings an in-depth understanding of the utility business, collaborative management style and excellent relationships with RTO officials as well as state and federal regulators,” GridLiance's president and chief executive Ed Rahill said. “His proven ability to identify, plan and win regulatory approval for large-scale transmission projects will be invaluable to GridLiance as we accelerate our strategy of partnering with public power partners,” Rahill added, referring to municipal, cooperative and joint action agency utilities.

Established in 2014, GridLiance focuses on collaborating with public power utilities to jointly plan, develop, own and operate transmission infrastructure. It enables its public power partners to invest in regulated transmission projects that would otherwise be inaccessible to them, GridLiance claims.

Private equity firm Blackstone is backing GridLiance through its energy platform, Blackstone Energy Partners, but has not disclosed details regarding its financial support.

Earlier this month , GridLiance acquired the transmission assets, which comprise approximately 410 miles of 69 and 115kV transmission lines and related substations, from Tri-County Electric Cooperative (TCEC), for an undisclosed amount.

Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, GridLiance also has offices in Chicago; Austin, Texas; and Washington DC. Crowder will be based in the Austin office.

GridLiance seeks to establish long-term agreements with public power utilities. To date, it has 30-year joint development agreements in place with the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission, the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority and TCEC. It operates within the MISO and Southwest Power Pool (SPP) regions, through its subsidiaries South Central MCN and Midcontinent MCN, respectively.