The Team

sharing their technology

Designed to share the evolving technology trends and industry’s best practices, the COMET team brings the brightest minds across the globe together annually to educate power maintenance professionals and decision-makers on how to best deploy reliable solutions for the future.

The brightest minds in electrical asset management.

LEADING industry experts

The reliability of electric power from generation to delivery is ranked as the number one concern for any global electric power company. COMET’s host committee is comprised of top industry experts with a common goal to drive innovation and efficiency within the electrical asset industry.

Driving innovation and efficiency within the industry.

Meet the HOST COMMITTEE

Dr. Robert Hebner

Dr. Robert Hebner

COMET Conference Chair

Bob’s current projects include improved hybrid vehicles, energy storage, Smart Grid, and microgrids. Before joining the University, Bob spent a significant portion of his career at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), beginning in a postdoctoral position and ultimately serving as acting Director. He also served in the Office of Management and Budget, at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and, for a short time, did research at Sandia National Laboratory. At NIST, an early responsibility was to modify the US system for watthour meter calibration from the traditional analog meters to supporting the emerging digital metering. This reduced the cost of maintaining accuracy by millions of dollars and removed an impediment to the adoption of the smart meters that are widely used today.

In 2013, he was the vice president of the IEEE for Technical Activities. The IEEE is a global technical society in computing and electrotechnology with more than 400,000 members. In that position, he had oversight responsibility for such activities as Smart Grid, Smart Cities, and Transportation Electrification. He has had senior management experience with responsibility for an annual budget approaching one billion dollars, but maintained a technical focus. He has a Ph.D. and coauthored more than one hundred and fifty technical papers and reports.

Alan Ross

Alan Ross

COMET Conference Co-Chair

Alan Ross is the Vice President of Reliability at SD Myers, Inc. in Tallmadge, Ohio. He is responsible for developing and executing long-term reliability strategies and next generation leadership for all operating units, both domestically and internationally.

Alan often presents at industry conferences and has authored several trade publication articles on transformer maintenance and reliability, including articles featured in Solutions and Uptime magazines and has written two books: Unconditional Excellence and Beyond World Class.

He completed his undergraduate work in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and MBA in Marketing from Georgia State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Thomas Linn

Thomas Linn

COMET Conference Co-Chair

Thomas graduated from the Technical University of Dresden with a degree in Electrical Engineering, specialized in High Voltage Techniques. In 1998 he joined ABB in Switzerland and was responsible for high voltage onsite testing for GIS and cables, PD measurements onsite and PD monitoring of Gas Insulated Switchgear.

Afterwards he worked for 10 years with high voltage transformer bushings and became a senior technical expert for high voltage techniques and equipment. In March 2013 Thomas joined Qualitrol as Technical Application Specialist. As a TAS, Thomas is able to leverage 20+ years of experience in high voltage equipment such as GIS, high voltage bushings, cables, transformers, high voltage testing, partial discharge measurement and monitoring, and high voltage test equipment.

Thomas is a member of CIGRE and IEC TC42 in Switzerland and is contributing as an expert to different CIGRE Working Groups internationally.

Kenneth M. Mercado

Kenneth M. Mercado

COMET Keynote Speaker

A more than 30-year veteran of CenterPoint Energy and predecessor companies, Kenny Mercado has financial and operational responsibility of the company’s electric utility, which consists of a 5,000 square-mile service territory and power delivery to more than 2.3 million homes and businesses in the Houston metropolitan area. Prior to his current position, he was division senior vice president of Grid and Market Operations, responsible for automating and integrating the company’s nearly 53,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution grid to serve the Texas competitive market. He led the deployment of the company’s smart grid system, which includes the installation of smart meters and intelligent grid technology.

Mercado received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Houston. He also received an executive MBA degree from Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

A licensed professional engineer registered in the state of Texas, Mercado serves on the boards of the March of Dimes in Houston, the American Red Cross Greater Houston Area Chapter, the University of Houston Honors College and Engineering Leadership Program, Southeastern Electric Exchange, Research Advisory Council at Electric Power Research Institute, and Advisory Board at Texas A&M Smart Grid Coalition.

Bernie Cook

Bernie Cook

COMET Keynote Speaker

Bernie Cook is an Executive Consultant supporting power utilities with implementing new IIOT equipment reliability process and technology solutions to address today’s significant power generation challenges.

He is a retired power utility professional from Duke Energy with over 36 years of experience implementing advanced technologies to support operations and maintenance improvements. He was responsible for implementing Duke Energy Equipment Reliability Programs including the Monitoring & Diagnostic Center and Duke Energy’s SmartGen Project, an industry leading collaborative project with National Instruments that installed an Advanced IIOT Infrastructure of over 30K sensors and advanced analytics in over 50 power plants.

Dr. Robert Hebner

Dr. Robert Hebner

COMET Conference Chair

Bob’s current projects include improved hybrid vehicles, energy storage, Smart Grid, and microgrids. Before joining the University, Bob spent a significant portion of his career at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), beginning in a postdoctoral position and ultimately serving as acting Director. He also served in the Office of Management and Budget, at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and, for a short time, did research at Sandia National Laboratory. At NIST, an early responsibility was to modify the US system for watthour meter calibration from the traditional analog meters to supporting the emerging digital metering. This reduced the cost of maintaining accuracy by millions of dollars and removed an impediment to the adoption of the smart meters that are widely used today.

In 2013, he was the vice president of the IEEE for Technical Activities. The IEEE is a global technical society in computing and electrotechnology with more than 400,000 members. In that position, he had oversight responsibility for such activities as Smart Grid, Smart Cities, and Transportation Electrification. He has had senior management experience with responsibility for an annual budget approaching one billion dollars, but maintained a technical focus. He has a Ph.D. and coauthored more than one hundred and fifty technical papers and reports.