A Service of Energy CentralEnergyBlogs.com Logo

Having returned to the office this week I actually found it eerily quiet and I almost didn't know what to do with myself sitting at my desk.  That is the only way I can describe the contrast to the frenzy of activity last week in San Diego at DistribuTECH.  Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, this conference and exposition has continued to grow year after year and 2015 set a record with 11,773 attendees as reported by Electric Light & Power / POWERGRID International.  That is up 16% from the previous year.  What impresses me most is not just the growth, but the fact that Pennwell and the Advisory Committee continue to raise the bar in the offerings for attendees.  Delegates have so many options to maximize their experience at the conference which include:

  • 15 Conference Tracks featuring nearly 400 of the industry's top professionals across 81 sessions
  • Breakfast roundtables moderated by industry experts
  • Several dozen Utility University Courses
  • An Exposition Hall with almost 500 exhibitors
  • Ability to interact with 300+ other utilities from 64 countries
  • Attending mega sessions on topics that span multiple areas
  • Joining in on Webcasts where industry executives stream content live to a global audience

In the weeks leading into the conference, I had written about my observations of the agenda from a distribution operations perspective.  The full article is available at bitly.com/DistribuTECH2015.  The points from that assessment were that I noticed several trends in topics that lead me to summarize these were the key messages in the conference content.

  1. Importance of data to drive the smart grid
  2. Criticality of damage assessment to successful storm management
  3. Increasing impact of weather related events to the distribution system
  4. Significance of spatial analysis on reliability
  5. How smart meters make the grid smarter than any other investment
  6. Value of providing timely and relevant information to customers during outages
  7. Role of mobile solutions continues to develop
  8. Advanced Distribution Management (ADMS) having better value in theory than practice
  9. Emergency response and restoration planning remains vital

While in San Diego I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend a few presentations, moderate a session on GIS/Mobile, work on the show floor as an exhibitor and interact with a lot of delegates and fellow vendors.  There is so much activity going on that I find this is the best way to get a good sampling of everything from which to draw conclusions and make observations.  I stand be my initial remarks, but there were a few of these topics that stood out even more than I had expected.  Storm planning and response along with the correlated area of customer communication seemed to be a theme in many of the conversations.  

 

Of course there is the technology in the background that enables utilities to capture damage assessment or send out communications to customers about the restoration times for example, but equally discussed were the processes surrounding the application of technologies.  I think that these reflect the times that we are in with society today as utilities are forced to do more with less, which means they are continually trying to optimize existing processes. Since the technologies for storm response have matured, the focus now has shifted to better ways of managing the response.  Such activities as leveraging the "bring your own device" and smart phone apps to access GIS information via web services can enable any enable the collection and reporting of damaged facilities.  Then automatically tying this information back to the outages can help dispatchers further prioritize the restoration by being able to see the details of the damage and assign the right crews for reconstruction.  This ties into having better information for customers who patiently wait to hear from the utility on when the power will be restored.  Automated notifications and social media integration with storm response now goes hand in hand as customers expect to be advised of changing conditions in near real time in an era where people are always connected.  One observation on why these were such hot topics may be that these are not complex issues to address; the solutions do not take years to implement and have high customer value, which make them easy to justify to rate payers.  Regardless of the reasons why, it was clear that utilities are talking about the customer as they are reminded of how important they are to the services they provide.

 

Everything seems to be getting "smarter".  The hashtags for social media promoted by the conference included #DTECH2015 and #GetSmarter.  I jokingly wonder if that means that we are not smart today!  On the serious side, I think that it stands as a reminder that just because this industry is built around the design of a transformer that has not changed much in a hundred years, that  utilities continue to challenge vendors to deliver solutions that allow them to streamline processes, become more efficient and deliver higher value to their customers.  #GetSmarter is a challenge and not just a hashtag.

 

So after taking a deep breath and enjoying the peace and quiet of the office for a short while, the Advisory Committee will start planning for next year.  I expect that changes will be in store to manage the increased volume of attendees as well as the shift in focus for some utilities which may results in new tracks.  Either way, I can promise you that DistribuTECH will continue to raise the bar and you should plan to be in Orlando next year to see how it unfolds. 

296 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

Each summer, the members of the DistribuTECH advisory committee begin the process of reviewing abstracts in an effort to build the agenda for the conference. We are privileged to read about many ou...

437 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

The weather this winter hasn’t been very kind to most of North America. In early January, an Arctic cold front blanketed much of the country in snow and ice and also brought frigid temper...

870 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

Last week, the leading annual smart grid conference was held in San Antonio, Texas, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.  Now in its 24th year, DistribuTECH had its largest attendance e...

651 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

With just a little over a month to go, the clock is ticking down toward the utility industry's leading annual transmission and distribution conference, DistribuTECH 2014.  This y...

1217 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

The headline for the 13th Annual Marcus Evans Outage Response & Restoration Management Conference  in San Antoinio last week was "Accelerating Restoration Performance through Enhanced...

879 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

Some of the most influential executives in the electric utility industry will convene in San Antonio, Texas on October 21 for the start of the 13th Annual Outage Response & Restoration Manageme...

962 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

Recently Oracle released their second annual study on how electrical utilities in North America are using the tremendous amounts of data being collected by smart grid technologies.  They condu...

1547 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

Many utilities today are facing tough decisions on how to properly staff the distribution operations center when determining the division of responsibilities of the personnel.  Different skill...

2988 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

Last week I had the good fortune to attend the 2013 Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Smart Distribution and Power Quality Conference and Exhibition at the Westin Chicago River North in...

1606 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

Recently the Power Quality Division of Eaton released their annual findings on reported power outages across the United States.  Eaton specializes with internal (beyond the utility meter) powe...

6460 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

Recently I gave a presentation on how smart meters can augment the outage management process through last gasp notification.  For utilities that have smart meters with this capability, it is n...

2246 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

  A few weeks after the conference, I finally have a few minutes to reflect back on DistribuTECH 2013.  This year the conference was held in beautiful San Diego, California, which in...

1984 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

Over the holiday break, I spent some time reflecting on 2012 and wondered what lies in store for distribution operations at North American electric utilities in 2013 and beyond. Recently, we witnes...

1857 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

And Then There Was Light Thomas Edison first patented a system for electricity distribution in the late 17thcentury.  In 1882, the Edison Illuminating Company switched on the Pearl Street...

1521 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

Recently we had a power outage at my office just before the lunch hour.  The aging battery on my laptop no longer holds a charge, so quickly I scrambled to save all of my open documents and sh...

1000 Views Author BioAuthor Bio
ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate

In recent years, there has been a question in the electric utility industry on the long term viability of outage management systems.  Some experts had speculated that they would become just a...

 
Toolbox

Blog Editor
Search
Calendar
Recent CommentsRecent Comments
RSS

Conferences / Shows

International SAP Conference for Utilities

Apr 13, 2015 - Apr 15, 2015

Energy Central's Utility Analytics Summit

Mar 03, 2015 - Mar 05, 2015

Comverge Utility Conference 2015

Apr 08, 2015 - Apr 10, 2015


Sponsored Content

Copyright © 1996-2015 by CyberTech, Inc. All rights reserved.
Energy Central ® is a registered trademark of CyberTech, Incorporated.
CyberTech does not warrant that the information or services of Energy Central will meet any specific requirements; nor will it be error free or uninterrupted; nor shall CyberTech be liable for any indirect, incidental or consequential damages (including lost data, information or profits) sustained or incurred in connection with the use of, operation of, or inability to use Energy Central.
2821 S. Parker Rd. Ste 1105 Aurora, CO 80014
Contact: Phone - 303-782-5510 Fax - 303-782-5331 or service@energycentral.com.