D-TECH Brightens Sunny San Diego

By Kathleen Davis, senior editor

In 2009, DistribuTECH enters its 19th year, and we’re happy to celebrate this milestone in one of our favorite destinations, San Diego. Running February 3-5, 2009, at the San Diego Convention Center, DistribuTECH encompasses automation and control systems, IT, T&D engineering, power delivery equipment and water utility technology. From instructional Utility University courses, to experts delivering the latest industry details, DistribuTECH is bringing a lot of spark to California next year.

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Last year, DistribuTECH introduced TransTECH, a transmission engineering and technology conference. We’re bringing that back this year, as well as a couple of other options, including the Solar Metering and Performance Monitoring Expo and the inaugural offering from our sister magazine Utility Products, the Utility Products Conference and Exposition. All three of these companion events will be co-located with DistribuTECH in February.


breakfast roundtable: Join experts and other attendees at DistribuTECH’s breakfast roundtables to discuss timely topics over some delicious scrambled eggs.Click here to enlarge image

Expanding further into the transmission market in 2008 brought record attendance of 5,800 attendees; 2009 promises to be better than ever. With all the excitement it has to offer, DistribuTECH is one live wire indeed.

Utility University

Attendees can make the most of their DistribuTECH experience by attending pre-conference courses. Utility University courses are relevant, topical, issue-concentrated classes that occur before the full conference begins. Courses are taught by recognized experts in their respective fields and are held in a classroom environment to maximize the learning experience.

This year, Utility University offers popular courses from previous years as well as a few new courses and topics. Utility University has both full-day and half-day courses on Monday, February 2, 2009.

Full-day courses include:

  • Selecting Communications Media Required for the Smart Grid;
  • Securing the Smart Grid;
  • Substation Automation and Smart Grid: Design Issues, Alternative Approaches and Cyber Security Considerations;
  • Distribution Automation—Smart Feeders in a Smart Grid World; and,
  • Using the IEC 61850 Standard for Communication Networks and Systems in Substations.

A view of our networking reception in Tampa last year. This year’s reception at San Diego’s Hard Rock promises to be even bigger and better.Click here to enlarge image

Half-day course selections cover topics from automation to distribution improvement and WAN, LAN and HAN communications.

Tickets are required for admission to each course. Only those registered with a ticket for a particular course will be admitted. There are a limited number of seats per course. Attendees can register for Utility University courses using the overall conference registration form, which can be found online at the conference Web site: www.distributech.com.

Opening Keynote

DistribuTECH 2009 will kick off with an opening keynote session on Tuesday, February 3rd at 8:30 a.m. The keynote will feature Kurt E. Yeager, executive director of the Galvin Electricity Initiative, Michael R. Niggli, COO of Sempra Energy Utilities, and Frank Abagnale, a famous authority on fraud.

Kurt Yeager joined the Galvin Electricity Initiative, an effort to perfect the electric power system, shortly after it was launched by former Motorola chief Bob Galvin in 2005. As its leader, Yeager works with electricity experts, innovators and entrepreneurs to design and build prototypes of a smart, efficient electric power system that cannot fail the consumer.

Michael Niggli is the chief operating officer (COO) of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), Sempra Energy’s regulated California utilities. Niggli was named COO in 2006. Previously, from 2000 to 2006, Niggli was president of Sempra Generation where he was responsible for the operation and maintenance of merchant power plants and energy infrastructure throughout North America. Sempra Generation operates power plant assets in Nevada, California, Arizona and Mexico.

Frank Abagnale is one of the world’s most respected authorities on the subjects of forgery, embezzlement and secure documents. For more than 25 years, he has lectured to and consulted with hundreds of financial institutions, corporations and government agencies around the world. He began to acquire his rare blend of knowledge and expertise as a teenager. More than 30 years ago, he was known as one of the world’s most famous confidence men, as depicted in his best-selling book, Catch Me if You Can. He cashed $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in every state and 26 foreign countries over a five-year period. Between the ages of 16 and 21, he successfully posed as an airline pilot, an attorney, a college professor and a pediatrician. Abagnale has been associated with the FBI for more than 25 years.

A Peek at the Conference

After the keynote, the conference itself opens for business, with a bevy of learning opportunities. Sessions are broken down into related “tracks,” including: AMR, CIS, demand response, distribution automation, asset management, geospatial, SCADA, substation automation, T&D reliability and two separate TransTECH tracks.

Metering is always a popular track at DistribuTECH, and this year’s sessions include a look at rates and regulations, at applications for the smart grid, at projects being deployed, at planning and at the customer experience.

In “Rates, Regulations and Customers: The Best Way to Deliver AMI Benefits,” on Tuesday, February 3, speakers from EEI, Itron, Elster and M.I.T. will start the examination of metering’s positives and negatives. Beyond the sophisticated hardware, software, and communications technology, rate design, regulatory structure, program development, marketing and customer participation are critical components to delivering the benefits of AMI both to consumers and utilities. This session will cover these regulatory and programmatic aspects of AMI deployment and their importance in the overall success of an AMI deployment.


Attendees listen to an exhibitor describe her company’s product.Click here to enlarge image

Another session of interest will be “The “˜Open Grid’: What if Everybody’s a Generator?” in DistribuTECH’s customer service and GIS track. Relationships between consumers and energy companies have been traditionally unbalanced. Companies had the power. But, the confluence of climate change concerns, rising energy costs and technology advances is now radically redefining that relationship, disrupting existing business models and impacting IT applications and operational technologies. This “open grid” architecture (where any access point can be both a provider and consumer of electricity) results in a significant percentage of new electricity supply being introduced by end users. This supply source will be both distributed and intermittent—and will have a significant impact on the control and management of our energy systems, according to the speakers in this session. These dual consumer/supplier access points will also transform core business models and impact utility information and operational technologies. In this session, speakers from utilities and a premiere research organization will explore how this “open grid” may evolve, examine its implications on operational technologies, and assess its impact on energy companies’ management and business applications.

The customer service track also includes sessions on line crews, equipment and CSRs; how utilities utilize customer data; and data protection and liability.

Wireless SCADA is the first focus of the SCADA track. Are we truly ready for that? Speakers from Cooper Bussman, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and RuggedCom will explore the pros and cons of using wireless communication in that area. That track will also explore EMS systems, cyber security, preparation for catastrophic events, and DNP protocol.

In addition to the nine Distribu-TECH tracks in the conference, there are also two transmission-specific TransTECH tracks. These feature information designed just for the transmission side of the wires biz, with a look at enhancing grid performance, market issues, innovative transmission asset management, integrating renewables, costs, oscillations and swings, and energy conservation.

The TransTECH tracks kick off with a session on ISOs and RTOs on Tuesday, February 3rd. Utilities are facing a multitude of new issues because of their participation in ISOs and RTOs. These issues cross departmental boundaries from system planning to operations. Even more challenging are those that arise when utilities participate in multiple ISOs and RTOs. This panel session includes speakers from utilities facing these new and ever evolving challenges.

On Wednesday, February 4th, a TransTECH attendee can sit in on a discussion about the costs of burying your transmission lines. Is underground transmission a viable option to the construction of new overhead transmission lines? This panel of utility representatives will address this topic and its pertinent issues such as public perception, capital costs, operation and maintenance costs, reliability, safety, security, EMF and aesthetics.

Networking Opportunities

But, lest one thinks that DistribuTECH is all learning and no play, think again. There are plenty of social opportunities to just sit and visit with colleagues, acquaintances and new friends. In fact, DistribuTECH has become renowned for its networking events. In 2007, DistribuTECH threw the best Super Bowl party in the city. Last year, there was record attendance at the Gasparilla Pirate Parrrty. This year, DistribuTECH is going to “rock it out” at the Hard Rock Hotel with the “Rock “˜N’ Roll Networking Reception” on Wednesday, February 4th. The staff and committee of DistribuTECH are very excited to present another rockin’ reception. Join in for a live local band, food and drinks, and a jam session with Rock Band 2 and a Karaoke contest. Random drawings will take place for the Karaoke machine and Rock Band 2 with a Nintendo Wii.

The Hard Rock Hotel provides the perfect venue for a DistribuTECH networking reception, providing us a view of the Gaslamp Quarter on the second floor Woodstock Terrace. DistribuTECH attendees get in free.

But, the fabulous “Rock “˜N’ Roll Reception” isn’t an attendee’s only networking opportunity at DistribuTECH. There’s an opening reception, held on the exhibit floor on Tuesday, February 3rd from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. There you can enjoy hors d’oeuvres, refreshing drinks and networking with industry colleagues while viewing the exhibits of more than 275 companies.

A second exhibit floor reception follows on Wednesday, February 4th right before the “Rock “˜N’ Roll Reception.” Called “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere,” that networking opportunity will run from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

If you’d like to mix your net-working opportunities with your industry learning, DistribuTECH also offers a number of breakfast roundtables, as well as a breakfast keynote. These roundtable discussions provide an excellent opportunity to network with peers and meet industry experts. Roundtables with specific industry topics will be moderated by leading professionals in each field. An informal format makes the breakfast roundtables a great way to share information and learn about specific industry topics.

Roundtable topics include:

  • Adding Cyber Security to Legacy Systems,
  • NERC CIP and You,
  • Demand Response: AMI Integration and New Strategies,
  • Renewable Energy and Demand Response,
  • Substation Integration and Automation—Foundation for the Smart Grid,
  • Distribution Automation,
  • AMR Trends in the Water Industry,
  • Putting the Smart Grid to Work,
  • Smart Grid Integration,
  • and other issues.

Additionally, on Thursday, February 5th, DistribuTECH is offering a “Breakfast Keynote” on “The Smart Grid from A to Z: The Nation’s First Smart Grid City.”

Xcel Energy is in the midst of planning and implementing the nation’s first “SmartGridCity.” At the time of the conference, construction of the SmartGridCity will have been under way for nearly a year. During this breakfast keynote session, the SmartGridCity program director from Xcel Energy will provide an overview of the planning, implementation and management issues involved with building a smart grid and will focus on lessons learned and insights gained as part of the initiative. Other major participants in Xcel’s SmartGridCity initiative will answer audience questions during an interactive panel session. Attendees will leave knowing how to plan and develop their own smart grid projects, how to assess smart grid technology components and what benefits a utility can expect to achieve from this type of initiative.

The session will conclude with information that will help attendees define their visions of the future and develop roadmaps to achieve them, and, as a special bonus, the breakfast will be moderated by DistribuTECH program chair and UAE editor-in-chief Teresa Hansen.

A Few Final Notes

Besides the fabulous conference sessions and networking options at DistribuTECH, you also have the opportunity to visit DistribuTECH’s large exhibit floor (275 exhibitors at last count) and, of course, there’s our annual car giveaway. This year, you could drive away in a new Saturn Sky.


People gather on the show floor to chat about industry issues.Click here to enlarge image

And, in addition to all the fun of DistribuTECH, this year there are also two companion shows available to attendees. First, the Utility Products Conference and Expo, also located at the convention center in San Diego. Utility Products Conference & Expo will bring the pages of Utility Products magazine to life with buyers and sellers of power, CATV, telecom and water equipment together in one place for an in-depth look at the tools that make the utility industry run smoothly.

Utility Products Conference & Expo will provide the field worker with practical solutions to everyday problems. This intimate event will allow attendees to be a part of product demonstrations, workshops, training and conference sessions while providing them access to indoor and outdoor exhibits from companies with solutions and products for the workplace.

DistribuTECH registered attendees can attend Utility Products Conference & Expo for free. Simply check the “Utility Products Conference & Expo” box on the DistribuTECH registration form to register.

In addition to the Utility Products Conference & Expo, attendees can visit the 2009 Solar Metering & Performance Monitoring Expo (SMPM). SMPM 2009, presented by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), will feature a solar pavilion in the DistribuTECH expo hall and a dedicated solar conference track. SMPM 2009 is designed to bring together utilities, technology vendors, and solar installers to explore opportunities to collaborate on issues related to meters, inverters and performance monitoring equipment and services.

With such a wide range of conference sessions, expositions and networking opportunities, DistribuTECH 2009 promises to light up even sunny San Diego with a bevy of powerful, interesting options for attendees in February. We look forward to seeing you there.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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