Ralph E. Abbott is widely recognized as a top industry expert in metering, AMI, AMR, Demand Response and Smart Grid. He currently serves the energy utility field as President of Abbott Energy Associates. Ralph selectively accepts business and technology support and strategy development consulting engagements with utilities, leading technology vendors and the industry research and regulatory establishment. His most recent work includes supporting a number of vendor and utility clients that are facing patent infringement litigation.After 20 years of employment and experience with leading suppliers of utility communications and control systems, in 1983 Ralph founded Plexus Research, Inc., and established offices in Boston, Pittsburgh and London. Plexus Research specialized in “technologies that touch the utility customer.” These include Direct and Distributed Load Control, Smart Grid, Smart Metering, Advanced Metering Infrastructure, Utility Telecommunications, Demand Response, Home Automation, Home Area Networks, Commercial Building Automation, and Distribution Automation. The firm became known worldwide for its objectivity, integrity and technical expertise. Plexus served leading utilities and technology firms throughout North America, South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Under Ralph’s guidance the Plexus team served utilities, leading suppliers, certain regulatory bodies and utility institutional clients including NARUC, EEI, EPRI, NRECA, and NRTC. In mid 2007 Plexus Research Inc. and its entire team of pro-fessionals, was acquired by R.W. Beck. Beck was a 650 person consulting engineering firm with a 60 year history of serving the utilities, especially the public power (municipal) sector of the industry. Ralph elected to remain involved after selling his company, but on a part-time basis as a consultant, with the freedom to selectively serve other clients independently. In August 2009, R.W. Beck was acquired by SAIC, a public company with 45,000 employees. Mr. Abbott selectively has provided services to R.W. Beck/SAIC as an independent contractor. But he has chosen to serve most recent clients directly as Abbott Energy Associates.
Upon graduation with a mechanical engineering degree from Bucknell University, Ralph joined Bailey Meter Company in sales and “applications engineering” process control systems and of power control systems for utility fossil-fueled and nuclear plants. He completed Bailey’s 6 month training program at its Cleveland Headquarters. (Elsag Bailey was acquired by ABB in 1999.) He returned to Bailey after two years of active duty with service as an Army Artillery officer in Korea, and at the Airborne, Electronic and Special Warfare Board at Fort Bragg, NC. In 1973, following the Arab Oil Embargo, Ralph was recruited to move to the other end of the energy “food chain” – specifically in advanced metering systems and load control and other technologies that “touch” the utility customer. He become Vice President of the Utility Systems Division of American Science & Engineering of Cambridge, MA, a public company, and guided successful development, system sales and field deployment of more than 500,000 2-way power line communications devices for AMR, metering, D/A and load control, in more than 30 utilities. He was instrumental in the firm’s deployment of a two-way remote metering and load control system in SDG&E as part of the DOE/EPRI demonstration program. Other prominent installations included a 200,000 end point systems for Duke Power of Charlotte, NC and 150,000 end point systems for Wiscon-sin Electric Power (We Energies) of Milwaukee, WI.
In 1980 Ralph was recruited to become a VP and member of a founding team of the start-up, Vedette Energy Research of Thousand Oaks, CA. This firm subsequently developed advanced electric utility direct load control technology and control communications protocols based on the subcarrier of commercial FM broadcast radio (FMSCA). Ralph spearheaded a successful effort to have FCC rules changed to permit the use of broadcast radio spectrum for non-broadcast purposes. He guided the first commercial sale of this technology to Southern California Edison. Ralph subsequently arranged the successful acquisition of the Vedette technology by ASEA Brown Boveri (ABB) of Raleigh, NC (now Elster).
Upon completion of that transaction Ralph and a partner, Rob Blevins, formed Plexus Research Inc, and incorporated Plexus in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania in May 1985. Plexus has enjoyed a superb reputation with its utility, institutional and vendor clients in North America and throughout the world.
Among many recent utility and institutional engagements, Ralph has served as technology advisor to state and federal agencies. Ralph was the expert technology advisor and expert witness to the California Public Utilities Commission in the very large PG&E, SDG&E and SCE AMI applications. Recent utility AMI/Smart Grid project engagements include NV Energy, DTE Energy, Public Service of New Mexico, American Electric Power – Texas, City of Seattle, Westar – Kansas, Texas-New Mexico Power, Vectren, Central Vermont Public Service, Central Maine Power, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Jamaica Public Service, Green Mountain Power, Commonwealth Edison, AEP Texas and many others. In 2009 Ralph also served under contract to the US Department of Energy as a reviewer/evaluator for DOE-ARRA Smart Grid applications by utilities.
Ralph has provided litigation support to Southern California Edison (wrongful death) and Sacramento Municipal Utilities District (wrongful termination) and other utilities in AMR/AMI contracts matters, and has provided expert support to a number of leading industry suppliers in patent/prior art related matters. In the years from 1973 through 2007 Ralph and his Plexus Research colleagues developed an unusual re-source consisting of more than 120 shelf-feet of vendor technology and literature files, conference pro-ceedings, reports, technical papers. This unusual resources and Mr. Abbott’s continuous 40+ years of experience in this field has proven to be an invaluable source in establishing product development milestones in this field.
Ralph received a Mechanical Engineering degree from Bucknell University and attended the Graduate Business School of the University of San Francisco. He has been is a Registered Professional Engineer and a Senior Member of IEEE. He has been a licensed radio amateur (W1DMB) since he was 13 years old. He is a private pilot. He holds four patents in control and communications systems. He actively served on the Technical Advisory Committee of DistribuTECH and Metering Americas Conferences. He is a member of the San Diego Gas & Electric’s 6-person SDG&E Technical Advisory Panel (TAP).
Ralph is a charter member of Utilimetrics, formerly the Automatic Meter Reading Association. In 2011 he received the prestigious “Chairman’s Award” from Utilimetrics for “service to the utility industry and to Utilimetrics”, the nonprofit industry association dedicated to advanced metering and smart grid that hosts the annual Autovation Conference. He is the principal author of the EEI “Guide to Smart Metering.” He has been quoted in TIME, Business Week, Wall Street Journal and many utility industry trade journals. He regularly authors a column in Smart Energy International magazine and is a frequently invited speaker in national industry forums. Ralph has provided testimony in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Connecticut and California. A noted above, in 2005 Ralph and his Plexus colleagues were selected to be expert technical advisors to the California Public Commission (CPUC). Ralph and some of his people were expert wit-nesses for the CPUC in the historic multi-billion-dollar Smart Metering applications of Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. He has more recently provided other technology-related services to the CPUC.
Ralph and his wife, Mary reside in a suburb of Boston.
Ralph E. Abbott | President
Abbott Energy Associates
26 Fort Pond Road | Acton, MA 01720
office: 978-264-8035 | mobile: 978-621-0728