John Zachary Gibson

Chief R&D Engineer at Avista

John Zachary Gibson is the Chief R&D Engineer for Avista. As the Chief Engineer, John is sponsor for key innovative projects for Avista.

John is currently supporting Avista’s Urbanova Smart City initiative by being the project sponsor for the shared energy economy microgrid deployment. John and his team developed the project concept and scope for the transactive microgrid project. This project incorporates solar, storage, and building management systems into a control framework required to optimize the assets. The microgrid will develop valuations to support a transactive energy market among participants in the shared energy economy.

As the Manager of Distribution System Operations, John manages the group responsible for the design, installation, and deployment of a Distribution Management System (DMS). This Distribution System Operations (DSO) group is responsible for the deployment and operations of Smart Grid technologies and commissioning distributed resource assets onto the electric distribution system. Currently, the DSO group is responsible for the operation of a 1 MW vanadium flow battery onto the existing DMS system.

He is also supporting Avista’s Innovation Working Group focused on developing new products and services to support the deployment of distributed generation resources on the electric grid. The Innovation Working Group is utilizing Design Thinking methodology to transfer new products from ideation to commercialization. As a part of this initiative, John is assisting Avista Development with the design of an ecodistrict for the south landing in the UDistrict.

Education and Training
  • Gonzaga University B.S Civil Engineering 1987
  • Washington State University Masters Engineering Management 1994
  • Gonzaga University B.S. Electrical Engineering 2010
Research and Professional Experience

John led Avista’s Distribution System Operations group responsible for the deployment of centralized DMS for the Spokane and Pullman American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

As the project lead, he was responsible for the management of a $40 million capital project which upgraded and modernized seventy two feeders. In addition, John was responsible for the project budget, schedule, and reporting activities.

John also developed a systemic approach to rank Avista’s distribution feeders by energy savings. In order to accomplish this task, he led a working group consisting of resources from asset management, DREE, and Finance. The working group combined analytical toolsets to determine energy losses, O&M, and internal rates of return (IRR) for some three hundred feeders. The analysis concluded with a presentation to the Strategic Council requesting $1.1 millionto rebuild 9th and Central 12F4 feeder.