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Ashutosh Bhagwat: An Appreciation
By Roger E. Collanton, Vice President, General Counsel
February 9, 2023
The ISO’s Board of Governors and WEIM Governing Body meetings last week presented many challenging agenda items for members to consider, discuss and vote on. The joint session included review and voting on the design framework for EDAM, our extended day-ahead market, as well as several related items on enhanced regional coordination that were the result of nearly two years of hard work by ISO staff and stakeholders throughout the West.
|Ash was congratulated by ISO President and CEO Elliot Mainzer after the Board presented him with a resolution thanking him for his service and leadership|
During this busy week, spanning four days of various general session and executive meetings, the ISO Board also undertook another important and absolutely fitting item, honoring our friend and colleague, Ashutosh Bhagwat, as he prepares to end his run on the Board this month.
Ash, a distinguished law professor at UC Davis, widely published author and nationally recognized constitutional law scholar, is finishing his fourth term on the ISO’s Board of Governors. Ash was appointed to the Board three times by former Gov. Jerry Brown and again by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020. Ash served as Board chair in 2022 and also served on the Audit Committee – at times as the chair – and on the Department of Market Monitoring Oversight Committee. He served in every role with distinction during 12 busy years at the ISO, providing his insight and wisdom during a period of great change in the electricity industry and in state policy.
As the February 2 Board resolution quite accurately states, “Mr. Bhagwat has proven to be a valued and collegial member of the Board, whose thoughtfulness, dedication, judgment, keen intellect and integrity have been greatly appreciated and will be missed by his fellow Board members, management and staff at the California ISO.”
During his time on the Board, Ash was instrumental in providing leadership for the ISO through the challenges of industry transformation and passage of progressive state policies on sustainable power and climate change, issues he approached intellectually, and passionately. In fact, Ash had previously identified “decarbonization and addressing global warming . . . [as] the greatest challenge currently facing humanity.”
His many years of experience, insight, legal expertise and sound judgment have been extraordinarily valuable on so many issues, including the successful development and growth of the Western Energy Imbalance Market, which has generated more than $3 billion in benefits to market participants and the public. He was also a source of solid leadership in the successful transition of the ISO to serve as Reliability Coordinator for the majority of the Western Interconnection.
When asked what he is most proud of from his time on the Board, Ash singled out greater regionalization culminating with the Board’s approval of EDAM, and the ISO's leadership in integrating new technologies into the grid, notably storage and distributed energy resources.
In a blog post published in 2022, at the beginning of his term as Board Chair, Ash said his most striking observation during his tenure had been the huge changes in the organization and culture during that time. And, with his customary modesty, he did not even consider the pivotal role he has played in those positive changes.
Ash has been instrumental in helping with our ongoing organizational transformation, including with the search, hiring and onboarding of a new Chief Executive Officer, Elliot Mainzer, the ISO’s president and CEO, in 2020.
Like many of our past and current Board members, Ash came to the ISO with an impressive background and resume. After graduating from Yale University with honors, he earned his law degree, also with honors, from the University of Chicago Law School and served as a law clerk to Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner and to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Somehow, Ash also found time to author numerous books, articles and other publications on a variety of subjects, including constitutional law and the California energy crisis. He continues to be a frequent speaker on constitutional law and free speech, among other topics.
As ISO Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer, and Corporate Secretary, I have had the pleasure of numerous direct interactions with Ash over the years, including the honor of presenting to his law school class on regulated industries. Ash is always constructive, pleasant to work with, reasonable, thoughtful and insightful. While he will definitely be missed at the ISO, we have all greatly benefitted from working with Ash. I have no doubt that Ash will continue to enhance his legacy, as he has here with his leadership for the ISO, benefiting not only our organization, but our stakeholders throughout the West and the consumers we all serve. Let me close with another heart-felt thank you to Ash!
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