Opening Session Speakers

Eriks Surmanis
ESMO 2016 General Chair

Eriks Surmanis
Eriks V. Surmanis received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Clarkson University in 1998, a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University in 2007 and a Master of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2014.

After working as a field service engineer for ABB Service and Eaton Electrical Services and Systems, he joined Northeast Utilities Service Company’s Transmission Project Management group in 2004. His first project with Northeast Utilities (now Eversource) involved oversight of the siting, permitting and engineering of a ten mile, 115-kV double circuit underground cable run in the heart of Southwest Connecticut. Subsequently, Mr. Surmanis managed various high voltage substation equipment and protection and controls projects during an aggressive capital improvement initiative. It was during this time that Mr. Surmanis also obtained his Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

From there, Mr. Surmanis joined the Transmission Line Construction and Maintenance department as a Senior Engineer. A year after joining the group, he was promoted to the position of Manager, where he had overall responsibility of the maintenance of all 2,000 miles of overhead and underground transmission lines ranging from 69-kV to
345-kV in the utility’s service territory located in Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as a workforce of nearly 50 employees including union-represented line mechanics, supervisors, construction representatives and arborists.

His construction and maintenance responsibilities included twenty miles of 345-kV pipe-type cable, several 115-kV pipe-type circuits, 32 miles of 345-kV XLPE-insulated cable, 16 miles of 115-kV XLPE-insulated cable, and other smaller cable circuits.

Mr. Surmanis is a member of the IEEE, its Power and Energy Society and Standards Association, serves as the Secretary of the IEEE ESMOL (Electrical Safety & Maintenance of Lines) subcommittee, Chair of the IEEE Overhead Line Construction and Design Working Group within the Overhead Lines (formerly TP&C) subcommittee and he also chairs the IEEE ESMO Conference.

Mr. Surmanis joined Power Delivery Consultants, Inc. in 2011 where he specializes in conceptual design, engineering analysis, field testing, construction support, condition assessment, and O&M of overhead and underground electric power transmission systems. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of New Hampshire.

Christopher Root
Chief Operating Officer, VELCO

Chris joined VELCO as Chief Operating Officer in March 2014. He previously served as Senior Vice President of Network Strategy, a branch of National Grid. He holds a masters in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Northeastern University. He completed the Program for Management Development of the Harvard University Graduate School of Business and has authored, co-authored and presented papers at various utility forums. He and his wife live in Rutland and have three grown children. 

Wade Smith
Senior Vice President – Grid Development, AEP Transmission, American Electric Power

Wade Smith is Senior Vice President Grid Development, AEP Transmission. In this position, he leads AEP Transmission’s planning, engineering, project management, construction, and real-time operation teams. He is responsible for executing AEP’s $7.3 billion Transmission capital investment program for 2016 through 2018.
From 2010 – 2015, Wade served as President & COO, AEP Texas. He led two transmission and distribution wires companies serving more than one million customers in Texas. In 2008, he was Vice President, Transmission Engineering and Project Services, AEP Service Corporation. He was accountable for an organization of 800 professionals responsible for deploying $900 million of capital annually.

Wade’s earlier roles include Director, Gas Turbine and Joint Venture Operations, AEP Service Corporation where he was responsible for gas turbine and wind generating facilities operated by AEP and three jointly-owned coal-fired facilities; Executive Director, IPP and Wind, AEP Service Corporation with responsibility for 12 IPP and wind generation projects in the United States and Mexico; Director of Florida Operations and General Manager of Polk Power GP II, Inc., CSW Energy, and Plant Engineer/Manager at West Texas Utilities Company.
Wade earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, a master of business administration degree from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas, and is a graduate of The Executive Program-Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. In 2014 he received the Distinguished Engineer Award at Texas Tech University and was inducted into the school’s Academy of Mechanical Engineers in 2016.

Wade is a member of the ERCOT Board of Directors. He has served on numerous boards that support the communities served by AEP including United Way, American Heart Association, Del Mar College Foundation, and Columbus Museum of Arts.