When you serve a vital, vigorous industry such as the electric, gas, water and wastewater utilities, you must know their challenges and understand their needs. As an educational conference organization, CS Week also had to have faith that rich, targeted educational sessions offered enough value to justify tapping restricted budgets throughout the industry. Utility personnel and exhibitors participated in such numbers that it’s obvious the industry is ready to emerge from the economic downturn.
CS Week keynote speakers have included many notables over the years—President George H.W. Bush, Mike Ditka, celebrities and motivational speakers—but this year we invited two speakers with unique utility and energy expertise. Rick Sergel, president and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), addressed the issue of hackers’ reportedly penetrating the grid, but he focused more on the changing scope of the grid and the necessity for customers to become increasingly involved in energy efficiency and the technology to control power consumption.
Former U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham delivers the keynote address Wednesday, May 20 during CS Week in Washington, D.C. Copyright Greg Weatherly
Spencer Abraham, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy under President George W. Bush and founder of a Washington, D.C., strategic consulting group, gave an overall assessment of the energy and utilities industries with particular attention to the “greening of America.” He noted the financial constrictions all are facing as he characterized this as an exciting, challenging time for the industry.
It seems ironic that the first time CS Week has ever met in Washington, D.C., the federal government is taking a more active role than ever in funding and regulation.
CS Week responded to the recession by adding more value through up-to-the-minute information and expert speakers for CS Week Executive Summit, CS Week College and the nine customer experience tracks within the 60 Conference 33 workshops. The CS Week Synergy Groups for application users included HP Exstream, Itron, Oracle, SAP, StreamServe and UtiliPoint AMI/MDM Working Group. New this year, business process synergy groups for Legacy CIS users and Call Centers joined the successful 311 group.
Winners for the Best CIS Implementation are National Grid in Level I and Garland Power & Light in Level II. EPCOR Utilities is the winner among Level I utilities for Innovation in Extending a Legacy System. Artesian Water Co. won for Level II. In the most popular category, Innovation in Customer Service, Level I winner is Pepco Holdings Inc., and Vermont Gas Systems won in the Level II group.
We are profoundly grateful to those utilities, municipals and co-ops that sent managers and supervisors to bring back new solutions and exhibitors and sponsors who make CS Week affordable while they show the latest and finest in utility products and services. Thanks, too, to the CS Week board of directors, the planning committee, executive advisory panel and the summit advisory panel for a brilliant week of learning for all involved.
Jerry Duvall, CEO, CS Week For more information, please visit www.csweek.org