Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Johny Lopez: Power’s triple threat
By Melissa Ficuciello
(Originally printed in the publication: PSEG Outlook, September 2011)
In the nine short years that Johny Lopez has been with PSEG, he has hit the Power trifecta… having worked for PSEG Nuclear, PSEG Fossil, and PSEG energy resources & trade (ER&T). While a student at the University of Rochester, where he earned a biomedical engineering degree – with a mechanical engineering concentration – in 2002, Lopez was recruited for a mechanical engineering job at Salem and Hope Creek during a Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers career conference. A long-time resident of New York City (born in Colombia, South America), Lopez relocated south to Pennsville, N.J., then to Delaware, eventually settling back in Harrison, N.J.
By then, Lopez was working as a financial analyst at Hudson generating station. “During my time there, I had a mentor in the company who coached me on how to successfully transition from engineering to finance,” Lopez said. At the time, Hudson was going through approvals for the Back-end technology project, so he learned a great deal about the business. Within a few years, Lopez transitioned again to ER&T’s trading floor as an asset optimization (portfolio) analyst. There, he develops strategies with his group to optimize the most value from the $2.3 billion PJM portfolio.
“In a typical day, we work to capture the most value from our 11,600 MW generation fleet in the energy and ancillary markets,” Lopez explained. He also manages and optimizes the company position as it relates to generation, load and hedges. “There’s a great learning curve involved in capturing this very complex business model,” Lopez said. “The strategies that our group implements directly contribute to PSEG’s gross margin and have helped PSEG Power to perform well this year, as well as in 2010.”
Lopez finds that every day brings different challenges, as the market conditions change daily. this helps him stay engaged in his job. “It’s helpful to use my problem-solving skills to understand the fundamentals of the market and develop strategies to optimize our fleet,” he said.
While his on-the-job hours are filled with a fair amount of intensity and stress, Lopez likes to chill from the work day by spending time with his wife, Monica, and their 22-month-old son, Julian – as well as play soccer and watch movies. “While I work hard, I enjoy my job,” Lopez said. “My wife and family are very supportive of my work demands. So when I have time off, I try to have as much fun as possible to keep the balance.”
For the past three years, Lopez has been active with Adelante, PSEG’s Hispanic diversity employee resource group. He currently is the group’s chairperson. “Adelante promotes Hispanic growth within PSEG, as well as in the communities it serves, by hosting professional development events that improve the skill sets of our members,” Lopez said. “We also put a big emphasis on outreach activities that promote education in the Hispanic community, including public speaking at local schools and youth mentoring,” Adelante supports Hispanic Heritage month annually, which runs from Sept. 15-oct. 15. During this time, people recognize the contributions of Hispanic Americans in the U.S. and celebrate Hispanic heritage and culture.
Prior to chairing Adelante, Lopez served as president of the Society of Hispanic Professional engineers for two years, and remains a member. “As president, the chapter made significant improvements and, with the support of its board of directors, the chapter grew to the best in the nation,” Lopez said.
As PSEG continues its quest to be an employer of choice, what keeps a young professional such as Johny Lopez challenged and engaged on the job? “When I was hired nine years ago, the company offered competitive pay and had a solid reputation in the community. it has some excellent initiatives in place to attract a diverse workforce, and good rotational and development programs,” he said. “I would continue my career here as long as I felt valued and was given opportunities to keep growing professionally. Right now, there are plenty of opportunities here for those who want to take them.”