DistribuTECH 2015 Finds New Meat and Potatoes, Breaks Records

TERESA HANSEN   Editor in chief

A few weeks ago, I was in sunny San Diego for the 25th DistribuTECH Conference & Exhibition. You can read about the record-breaking attendance and exhibition and many other highlights from the show in Senior Editor Kristen Wright’s “DistribuTECH Wrap-up” article that begins on Page 21.

From Tuesday morning’s opening keynote until the final conference session on Thursday afternoon, speakers emphasized over and over the need to prepare for transformational and fundamental changes.

Edison International Chairman, President and CEO Ted Craver, who spoke at the keynote, said new regulations around environmental issues, technology advancements and customers’ growing expectations are driving the changes.

Jeff Martin, CEO of San Diego Gas & Electric, DistribuTECH’s host utility, also spoke at the keynote. He said this is one of the most exciting times in the history of the electricity industry and that it is a myth that the electricity industry is opposed to change.

Theoretical physicist and futurist Michio Kaku told the keynote audience the digitization of our world is occurring quickly. It already has happened in the music and publishing industries and soon will move into the transportation and power industry, he said. Kaku said the smart grid will become smarter as sensor prices continue to drop. He predicted sensors will cost only a few pennies each in the next few years.

When I looked at some of the 2015 conference statistics, I discovered that just like the industry, DistribuTECH is changing quickly, too. As the chairwoman of the DistribuTECH Conference Advisory Committee, I, along with our dedicated committee members, work to ensure the conference tracks and sessions reflect the most important and relevant topics in the industry. The topics we cover, therefore, must change with the industry.

Every year we cover the meat and potatoes-topics such as distribution automation, SCADA, metering, substation automation and GIS and mobile solutions-and we continue to add and modify topics. This year the track topics that stood out and attracted the most attention weren’t the meat and potatoes topics, but some of the most recently added topics.

Some 15 tracks were offered in the conference program. The five most attended, in ascending order, were: Big Data and Analytics; Grid Communications; Distributed Energy Resources and Renewables; Cybersecurity; and Customers Strategies. We hadn’t considered these five tracks part of our meat and potatoes, but they might be as we transition with the industry.

As POWERGRID International’s editor in chief, I’ll do my best to ensure that the magazine, as well as DistribuTECH continues to cover the most important topics as the industry transforms.

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