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The Information Age is rendering the nation's aging electricity grid obsolete and dangerously crisis-prone-with risks to IT potentially more serious than any Y2K bug would have been. Trouble is, there is no leadership focused on a fix this time, and companies and CIOs are starting to get nervous.
California's recent energy woes should be a wake-up call to business leaders and strategists across the nation, says a recently convened CIO Insight Roundtable of energy and technology experts. While the rest of the country, they say, appears to be in better shape than California, some ominous clouds are already gathering. Supplies in several regions, including New York City, are tight. Prices remain stubbornly high in some areas, affecting businesses and consumers. In certain Marriott and Hilton hotels, for example, guests are being slapped with energy surcharges of between $3 and $10 per night on top of their regular room rates. A severe heat wave in the Midwest or along the Eastern seaboard this summer could push those parts of the country into their own power crunch. The breakdown of a few big power plants in one region could cause the lights to flicker in nearly a dozen states.
Whole chunks of the country, in other words, are "walking a tightrope" between scant sufficiency and outright shortages, says Professor Roger Anderson of Columbia University's Energy Research Center. It's time, experts say, for government and business to come the grips with the gap between the growing power demands of the Digital Economy and the limits of the nation's decades-old energy grid. But no single player in the chaotic world of energy deregulation has either the financial incentive or the political clout to upgrade the lines alone.
Developments in networking technology will help fix things, says energy expert Stephen Gehlbut not for years. Gehl envisions a day when the grid is fully automated and tied to Net-based systems that automatically regulate consumption and pricing based on real-time spikes in demand. But the way we transmit power must be fixed first, say roundtable participants. What's needed? Leadership to bring about changenow, before more lights go out and more computers crash.
To discuss the current state of the nation's energy system, and the lessons learned from the California crisis, CIO Insight's Executive Editor Marcia Stepanek convened a panel of eight IT and energy scholars, CIOs and consultants. The panelists exchanged views on June 15 in a meeting at the magazine's Manhattan office.
CIO Insight: Dr. Anderson, you recently wrote that in 1995, there were just 20,000 servers in the world. Today, there are 6 million. Just one new server farm proposed for the economic development zone of the South Bronx, for example, would draw more than twice as much power as the entire World Trade Center complex. Forty-six such developments are proposed for New York and neighboring Westchester County alone over the next four years, and this is all going to increase the total electricity demand on Con Edison by 4 percent. Are the electricity demands of the fledgling Information Age starting to push the nation's aging power grid to its limits?
Anderson: The system is crashing. The energy demands of the computer age represent the extra load on the nation's electricity system that wasn't there 10 years ago.
Is this the straw that breaks the camel's back?
Anderson: Yes. But the funny part about it? It's not really a power generation problem. There are seven new generators going up in New York City alone. The big problem is that the nation's transmission grid itself is all messed up. The camel's back in this case is the transmission system that gets the fuel into the power plants and then the electrons out to the consumer. You can argue all day about what causes it, but brownouts are bad, brownouts are happening, brownouts are headed for New York, and that's the fact. We should all go out and buy batteries.
Handfield: I agree with that statement. I think there's a drastic amount of undercapacity in the nation's electricity system right now, and I think that in the future, unless something is done, unless there's greater cooperation between the various parties-that includes politicians, key stakeholders in the company and the power companies-the system is likely to shut down.
Hurle: And the scary part of it is that we're not sure what's causing the outages. It's really not the increased demand for electricity that's been causing the problems in California, and I think you can extrapolate that to the rest of the country. It's more the organization and the topology of where the power generation is and how we get that generation out to the consumer. So I think Dr. Anderson's point that it's really a problem with the transmission system is a good one.
Gehl: In Silicon Valley, we're at the end of a long distribution line. So we are pretty much at the mercy of everyone upstream of us. Combine that with the fact that we are highly reliant on power imported from other parts of California and other parts of the U.S. Now that implies problems with the transmission system, but I would also say that something else is going on here. I think that we are reaping the bitter harvest of a decade of neglect of the power system, a purposeful neglect. We knew what we were doing. In fact, the problems California has experienced were predicted by us and by many others over the last several years. I think California's problems were inevitable, given the path that we have been on as a nation.
Can we keep adding technology indefinitely, or are CIOs going to have to make some tough decisions? Instead of seven e-business strategies, for example, now you have two?
Gardiner: No, I think I'd take a harder position than that. CIOs will always make the tough decisions, but, in fact, the distribution and availability of power is no different in our minds than in the distribution and availability of network access to run the business. There are methodologies for watching the use of capacity, for planning the need for more capacity, and for investing in the availability of that new and added capacity. And while this is a complex issue, I hold many parties to be accountable for not doing a good enough job to anticipate the need. We should not be held hostage to the availability of power.
So how do we rethink the future when it comes to electricity generation, transmission and delivery? If it's not just a question of needing more power, what other issues do we need to address?
Anderson: Well, there's nobody in charge of the transmission system. You've got this tremendous increase in complexity with all of the new generator companies throwing power under the grid and no software or hardware to redistribute it and handle it. It's like an air traffic control system without the FAA up there running things. Of course, planes you can put in a holding pattern. You can't do that with a grid. You get these waves of chaos sweeping through the system, and as it gets more and more connected, it's going to get more and more chaotic.
Handfield: Let me chime in. In one of the studies we did, we looked specifically at this issue of looking at developing a supply management strategy for sourcing electricity, and, in fact, there is a process you can use to effectively look at the market, the contingencies, the risk factors. There are things you can do in terms of long-term contracts, hedging contractsagreements that specifically set levels of reliability that you establish in key relationships with these providers. And I think the most important thing is to know thyself, to know what your usage pattern is, what things are going to look like in the future, and once you have a baseline of that kind of information, you can set an appropriate strategy to be able to deal with the possibilities. Unfortunately, most companies don't do that. They don't understand how much power they use today, how much they will be using in the future. Those metrics simply aren't available.
Is this a job for the CIO?
Handfield: I think the CIO should definitely be a major player on the team that develops energy strategy. I think it should be led by supply management and operations, and it should be a cross-functional undertaking, really, because it is of critical importance.
Gardiner: I agree. What we see emerging is a need for IT organizations along with their facilities counterparts inside companies to be working very closely with power companies to talk about their strategies for the future, what kinds of technology needs they have, and how they can work together to anticipate what that's going to mean to the group.
Hurle: The CIO's role in an organization is two-fold. One is to be responsible for integrating technology into the business strategy of the organization and, secondly, from an operational standpoint, to deal with issues on a day-to-day basisprovide technology, anticipate technology change. I don't think it's fair to expect the CIO or even any single organization to be responsible for redesigning the nation's power grid, and I think Dr. Anderson's point is well on. There really isn't anyone in charge, and it's not necessarily fair to hold any one organization responsible. The CIO's job, a company's job, is to maximize shareholder value, and that's what they'll do. That's what they get measured on, that's what their performance is based upon, and that's what they'll do.
Anderson: And they can do a great job and still have brownouts come sweeping through their company.
McCrea: A lot of companies are looking at ensuring their own power supplies by considering building their own generating capacity and bypassing the regional power grid's fuel sales local for distributed power. In the past, CIOs didn't really have to worry about this. But energy and pricing is information, and so now they do. This is a whole new area for most CIOs.
John Keast, the former CIO and CTO of California's Pacific Gas and Electric, says that government agencies and utilities should use the California situation as kind of a wake-up call to build an improved e-business infrastructure to manage the nation's energy needs. And he said an e-marketplace for electricity, for example, would have better positioned many companies in California for the crisis just past there.
McCrea: The Internet economy is, I think, peculiarly vulnerable to shrinking power surpluses. If you think about it, an interruption in power, one-sixtieth of a second, won't cause your lives to flicker at home or in the office, but it will crash a computer. So when you look at the e-economy and Internet transactions, you're talking about demands for service levels that are much higher than maybe most companies are achieving today. And when you look at it from a security perspective, once things go online, there are some real security issues you need to grapple withand new business risks that appear as energy industry value chains are exposed to vandals and criminals and terrorists. These are things that before, with proprietary networks in controlled and regulated environments, had not been a real issue from an IT perspective.
But are Web-based electricity markets part of the solution? We see PJM, we see Enron, we see some of the new online electricity traders potentially being able to use the Net to start building efficiencies into systems where very little efficiency exists today.
Gehl: I think that's a very important point. One way to think about it is the electric company of the past was selling a single commodity called kilowatt hours. Now energy and electricity companies are selling services that provide reliability, provide power quality, meet the extremely high requirements for reliability of the internet economy.
Where have Web-based electricity markets been successful and where do they depart most sharply from the vision that the brightest minds in electricity R&D see as the grid of the futurebasically, a global, interconnected, completely automatic, interactive, Net-powered grid?
Anderson: Well, the first problem is the intelligent part of the intelligent grid. There's nothing that you can do by trading lots of anything that will give the grid any intelligence for managing systems. Systems integration requires the ability to move electrons from one place to another, and you can't do it with the current outmoded thermal mechanical switch-throwing grid. You have to put the grid into the modern world, with solid-state switches, and then you have to manage that grid with computers that optimize the flow and distribution. I'd like to ask people like Steve Gehl where he thinks the leadership is going to come from for that to happen? Who's going to pay the bill? Is it going to be the Pentagon when they finally get scared that this is a threat to our survival, or is it the companies all banding together and saying we're going to overcome? The problem is the public has very little knowledge of how the electricity system works and so therefore cannot assert political pressure. Most of my students at Columbia don't know how their hair dryers work, let alone what comes out of the electric plug. So the general public hasn't got a clue what's going on here.
Hurle: One of the most striking things to me is to realize just how fragile the whole electric system is. Sometimes you're seconds away from disaster, and I agreethe general public doesn't understand that. They think that electricity is a right and are quite happy not to really be responsible for any of the costs. The problems of setting energy price caps, as is being discussed by politicians in Washington, is that they're not going to stimulate any hard decisions about investing in transmission or generation, and that's one of the things that needs to be addressed.
Wired magazine recently described the digital power grid of the future as one that would be "awake, responsive, adaptive, price-smart, eco-sensitive, real time, flexible, humming, and interconnected." Is this realistic?
Gehl: It's egotistical.
Would it make dinner as well?
Gehl: Yes, and sense when you're low on beer and order more to stock up the fridge.
Seriously, Steve, what are you and others at EPRI looking at when you peer into the future?
Gehl: Well, I think that we're going to have to, first of all, correct for past neglect, as we said earlier. That means just a lot of catching up and building more generation in transmission capacity. However, what we also really need is to design a new system that will take advantage of solid-state switches, for example, to move power around where it's needed to remove (power) bottlenecks and so forth. There are advances on the horizon in aluminum composite materials, which have higher conductivity, higher strength and lower weight that would allow you to really maximize the throughput on a given transmission right-of-way. Ultimately, we're looking at superconducting transmission lines as well. So there's a whole series of technologies that are at or near commercial stage that are sort of sitting on the shelf right now, and what we need to do is to come up with the appropriate incentives so that we can actually implement these things and get them off the shelf and into service. There's a tremendous task ahead of us to do this sort of thing and create the sort of incentives that will induce people to do the necessary development, to cooperate, to make sure that all the various interchanges are working properly. It's something that I think we are just beginning to come to grips with.
Asmus: Some interesting experiments are already under way, chiefly in the area of alternative energy generation. The Alameda County jail, for example, in a collaborative effort with CMS Viron Energy Services, has linked up via the Web to a solar PV. They have energy management software where if a cloud cover comes over it, let's say a 5 o'clock peak, the place will automatically ramp down power consumption on site so that no extra electricity has to be bought from the grid at high peak prices. The cloud cover passes, the solar generation comes up to a maximum, and the software manages it. And what's interesting about this is that the county used no general funds.
How much are CIOs really thinking about alternative energy strategies? Is Unisys, for example, building a biomass facility?
Gardiner: Not that I'm aware of, nor do we have any windmills on the roof. One of the aspects of this whole discussion that I find very interesting is that the manufacture and distribution of electricity ultimately is a business that somebody's trying to make money at. And I don't hear any of this discussion wondering about the organization, management and control of the grid as a whole from a national or global perspective. Look at the telecommunications industry. It doesn't function from a long-distance perspective on the basis of hundreds of local and statewide telephone companies anymore. It's a global business with large companies that manage the distribution of capacity. It has the management systems to do it and the expertise to do it. When do we begin to talk about the electricity grid as a national, global business that needs to make money and needs to be run the same way?
Handfield: Let me also jump in and add to that. I think if there was a single lesson that came from the B-to-B and B-to-C markets was that you can't just have the technology up on the Web. You've got to have the relationships and the business processes underlying them. If you look at the grid and players on the grid today, you really have dysfunctional relationships, misaligned business processes, extreme political barriers and, most importantly, lack of metrics for really measuring performance across the grid. And until those issues are addressed, I think it's going to be a long time before we really see any progress on these other alternative energy and technology fronts.
Can information technology help to accomplish this?
Handfield: I believe smart metering is a very practical application that we're going to see a lot of in the future, whereby the electricity meters attached to a house or a building can be read virtually, via sensors that are placed on trucks that literally drive by and check them. I think one important aspect of upgrading the grid and tying it to the Net will be modernizing measurement of power consumption.
Anderson: I'm afraid I'm a little more pessimistic. The technology's not the issue. This energy crisis is a gigantic systems integration problem without a leader. If you look at the three main networks in the world, there's the phone system, there's the Internet, and there's electricity grid. Now the phone system was built by AT&T with government saying "Go, take a monopoly and run the phone system," and they successfully got phones cheaply everywhere. That has since bifurcated into all kinds of activity. DARPA, the military, did the Internet. Nobody's doing the electricity grid. Who's going to run this show?
Who should run it?
Anderson: My guess is that it's going to take somebody like DARPA getting engaged. The military was responsible for the interstate highway system.
Should the Pentagon step in here?
Gehl: Well, I think I agree with the comment that we do need to have someone in charge. Now whether that comes from the military or not, I don't know. I think it clearly has got to involve the federal government, and right now, I would hope it would be aided by voluntary organizations. For example, you have the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and NERC
Anderson: You're going to let them run it?
Gehl: No, but I think they're going to have to be involved. The organization that is probably going to be best equipped to run it is something like NERC, which is the North American Electricity Reliability Council. And we've been working very closely with one branch of that called the Western States Coordinating Council in terms of developing responses to what's going on in California.
Hurle: It has to be one organization like that. NERC tries to tread a very careful line between mandating and suggesting. They've been very defensive about what they've done in California versus what the governor and others are asking for them to do. NERC obviously has an important role in terms of reliability, but again, they have very defined roles. And I think that clearly one of those organizations or some new one has to emerge. Ultimately, I think, in all my years of consulting it comes down to one of three problems. It's either a people problem, a process problem, or a promises problem. It's never a technology problem.
Mehrabani: For us, it's an economic problem. It's an issue of what do we need to do to protect the basic fundamental operations of the business-and what is the source of the energy that will let us do that? I think CIOs would be supportive of any reasonable economic approach to solving the capacity problem, whether it's an alternative source of energy or something to enhance the capabilities of the grid. But I'm not sure that a CIO, for example, or even an architecture individual like myself would want to stick his nose into the decision, "Do I want to use my windmill today or do I want to use my biomass?" That's not what I'm being asked to do.
Gardiner: I think all vendors, ourselves included, need to focus on the kinds of intelligence built into the devices that allow them to manage the use of power as wisely as is possible, given the device's position in the architecture. It's a different issue for a network device than it is for an end-user's laptop or a PC or for a mainframe. But all of them can be equipped with enough intelligence to understand how to make power consumption decisions based on the work that they're doing at a moment in time. We, for example, are deploying devices that are very power smart at the user end, and we're teaching our employees how to use that power management capability to reduce our costs. And I think all vendors need to be focused on putting those kinds of products in the marketplace.
How can wireless technology affect both the cost of energy demand and the way companies get energy?
McCrea: It's that last broadband mile into the home. It's question of who can capture that and leverage it to bring other services and products and capabilities to the home or to the commercial/industrial user?
What's the synergy between energy and telecom?
Are there any marriage opportunities there in terms of pricing or delivery or, say, smart metering?
Hurle: Well, there's certainly the opportunity to bill your electric usage on your telecom bill. There are all sorts of opportunities there. Montana Power has built something like I think 8,000 or 15,000 miles of fiber, and most of it is under its transmission and their distribution lines. They're using their real estate to build infrastructure.
Anderson: The interesting part about this whole problem is how it's going to expand to the world because you hear comments about the Internet making the economy more efficient. In the U.S. that's true, but the rest of the world is charging up the energy consumption ramp as fast as they can. All of the people in China are going to have cars in 20 years. They all have bicycles now. And they're all going to have electric power. What is it, nine out of 10 homes in China don't have electricity?
Overseas, what does the future look like? Is there a chance that third world nations could trump wealthier ones when it comes to figuring out smart energy usage?
Asmus: One thing about wireless, I'm hearing examples of where they're skipping the poles and wires in some developing nations on the phone end with just going directly to cell phones. But they're also doing it on the energy end, where they're saving the cost of putting in distribution lines in sensitive environments when there's not that much energy consumption. So they're doing solar PV, that's one of the most common alternative technologies. I'm sure it's not as rosy as it seems, but I think the developing world doesn't have to copy our old outdated system. Smaller, less wealthy nations can actually be the center of energy innovation. Of course, they're also going to be the center of getting some of the cheaper, older technology, too-some of the environmentally dirtiest stuff. It's probably going to go both ways.
CIO Insight: So here we are in the U.S., a country that had been sophisticated and advanced. Are you saying that now our creaky infrastructure is rendering us a dinosaur on the energy front, compared with less developed nations?
Gehl: Well, what this conversation brings to mind is that developing countries that are able to skip some of the steps on the technology development pathway can use their move to a disconnected or distributed system to their advantage. We are going to be hobbled to a degree by having locked in on an older technology base, and I think what we need to do is to come up with an overall approach for modernizing the system and recognizing that the new technology is going to have to have a substantial advantage over the existing technology. One of the other problems is that the time constant seems to be a lot larger in the electricity business than it is in the Internet or computer business.
What do you mean?
Gehl: We tend to go through technology cycles at a slower rate principally because the capital costs are so much higher. You build a power plant with the expectation that it's going to be around for 30 years, and if you do that, then you're sort of stuck with the performance limitations of what some day will be a 30-year-old technology, the environmental limitations of that technology, and so forth.
What about the political component to the problem? How, for example, would the Bush Administration's energy plan help or hinder the vision we've been talking about here?
Gehl: The part of the energy plan that deals with the transmission and distribution system represents somewhat of a departure for what the government has done in the past. I think it's good to have more attention placed on the transmission system.
Anderson: I'm very supportive of somebody stepping forward and taking all the shots in the back. I mean this government has not been attentive to energy from a systems standpoint. The world is full of two or three really important things-telecommunications, energy, and the environment-and one-third of the triad has been totally ignored for more than 30 years. Maybe it was never confronted.
Hurle: Just a couple of comments. I've been thinking of your magazine's audience, and I think your CIOs almost fall into two groups. There are CIOs of energy companies who have, I guess, a lot more pressure on them to think of technologies, and to look at either whether it's a supply-side company or a demand-side company. Like CIOs at some of the companies that I work for that are trying to attract retail customers in more than eight states in the U.S., and for every single state they have a different billing system to deal with attracting customers. That makes for a lot of inefficiency. Then there are a lot of other CIOs who aren't with utility companies but nevertheless have a lot of issues to deal with in terms of the infrastructure, cost, how they organize themselves, how they procure their energy and involve themselves with base markets, and they have a lot of different questions.
McCrea: Certainly, the energy issue is putting immense challenges on IT organizations to make the changes to move into a competitive environment for billing and services and at the same time maintain all of the regulated and growing activity associated with just keeping the business running. I guess I would compare this analogy-wise with Y2K. Look at the Y2K issue, when that problem was in front of all of us. There was a lot of hype, there was a lot of change, and a lot of dollars spent. At the end of the day, folks realized, with all the changes that were being made, that none of them would work unless power could be delivered to whatever it was they had renovated. We've done a major renovation effort in this industry, and IT, from a dollar perspective, will probably outscale anything that we had in numbers associated with the Y2K problem. And as an industry, we have to focus. This is not something that can be done state by state or company by company. It's got to be a global standard or at least a domestic standard to ensure that we've got the power needs to take us through the 21st Century.
Anderson: I would love to settle for the capitalization that was spent on Y2K. That would be a great thing for the transmission grid if we could get that much attention. It's remarkable how much Y2K got for a non-problem.
Hurle: This is a $300 billion marketplace.
Is there a lesson to be learned from Y2K? Is there a PR effort that's needed here?
Anderson: How did Y2K happen? Was it a giant marketing scam or what was it? I still haven't figured
McCrea: It was a scare tactic, certainly
Anderson: Started by whom?
McCrea: -that got everyone's attention.
Anderson: Who did it?
Hurle: The software companies?
Anderson: Whoever it was, let's sign them up and fix the grid.
Is something being learned now at the level of California that eventually will help other states?
Gehl: Gosh, I think so. I certainly hope so. We're looking at what's wrong with wholesale markets, what's wrong with retail markets, what can we do to invent technologies that would address the other things. I think there's a tremendous opportunity to learn from the California situation. We have taken to calling what's happened in California "the perfect storm" because all of the various variables lined up in the most adverse configuration. But that isn't to say that parts of the California syndrome won't be experienced in other parts of the country. It very likely will be, and soon.
Hurle: (California Gov.) Gray Davis is no George Clooney. (Laughter.) I don't know where that fits in, it just struck me. But I think one of the realities of the day, especially one that CIOs have to deal with, is that they have dysfunctional organizations that aren't up to the game, just like the experience of the telecommunications companies of 10, 15 years ago when they were deregulated. You're essentially telling bureaucracies to go and be competitive, and they simply can't do that. They have a whole different set of metrics and cultures-the way they organize their data, the way they manage their processes, the sort of processes and technology that they had deployed internally. They just aren't up to the task. And so today's energy CIOs have this unenviable job of trying to integrate a very high level of expectation about what technology can deliver based on what they read in CIO Insight or wherever, telling them that the Holy Grail is just around the corner, and if you put in automated meter reading or if you do wireless this or wireless that, or if you connect your palm pilot and manage your washer and dryer from the office, then everything will be fixed. And that's just simply not the case.
Gardiner: I think it brings the light the fact that we're probably past the point where policy makers, industry and those who advocate for the individual consumer need to come together to address a very serious national problem that needs to be solved with a sense of urgency.
Mr. Mehrabani, are many organizations just not up to some of the challenges from an IT perspective?
Mehrabani: I agree with all of that. I also think we have a challenge. If you look at the way we manage information, I would suspect that the majority of Fortune 500 companies have a fair amount of information fragmentation. For example, look at the way the technologies are offered. They're not fully integrated. So we constantly have to deal with various technologies that architecturally don't work well together. They say they do something, and they don't do something else. The whole IT industry is emerging and maturing as well. So I think the fact that there is an energy crisis, I don't think it's the last of it.
McCrea: Regarding the comments about IT organizations and their supposed dysfunctionalities, I think that if I look at our own company, we've got the continued challenge of keeping the operation running and working ways to become more efficient. At the same time, the companies themselves are changing their business models because of deregulation, which is causing increased demand in the IT arena for systems and processes. On top of that, technology is changing at such a fast pace, even information technology. So you combine all of those together, and then you look at the crisis of the energy industry itself. I would not characterize IT organizations as dysfunctional, but I think maybe a better characterization would be that they're going through such an amount of change and all on top of each other, that the demands are quite high and challenging. I think there's going to be a lot of issues that we've got to deal with along the way.
Hurle: I think Ianne is quite right that a lot of IT organizations are stretched too thin to be able to cope, that maybe it's islands of dysfunction. Some CIOs in the energy industry are stepping up to the challenge, and maybe Ianne is one. Others clearly are not yet.
So what's the fix?
Anderson: I don't see our government being able to cope with it. I don't see the fragmented utility business being able to cope with it. I don't see the Enrons being able to cope with it.
So leadership is needed, but there's none available, right? Does that about sum it up?
Anderson: That would be a pretty good statement of my concern.
Gehl: I think it's evidently clear that none of us can do this working on our own and that it is going to require a concerted collaborative effort of the private sector with the government with equipment suppliers, with utilities, with state and local governments, etc.
Is that on the horizon?
Gehl: I think it ought to be Job One for the Administration.
But is it?
Gehl: No, it is not.
Would a consortium approach work, a group of different agencies pulling together to try and organize something?
Gehl: Yes, I think you need something like that. We have something called the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group that was originally founded by (philanthropist and Hewlett-Packard heir) David Packard with the idea of being a network community action organization. And I think what we need is sort of Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group at large.
Anderson: And the key to that was David Packard. So, who's the David Packard for our problem?
Gehl: I don't know, and I think that's an excellent and extremely relevant question.