By Rod Walton, Senior Editor
DistribuTECH returning to San Diego is like a biennial homecoming. The nation’s largest annual event for the electricity transmission and distribution sector cannot stay away beyond two years at a time.
For more than a decade, DistribuTECH has always come back to the southern jewel of the Golden State. And why not? The city is a beacon on the latest and greatest in grid technology. The host utility, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), is regarded as one of the nation’s most progressive when it comes to distributed generation adoption and smart-grid innovation. Shoot, even the pro football team is called the Chargers.
So no surprise that the industry’s biggest huddle-made up of more than 11,000 attendees and 500 exhibitors-is happening in San Diego. DistribuTECH kicks off with a vast, ever-growing array of industry speakers on cutting-edge topics, mega sessions and expert roundtables.
DistribuTECH 2017 will be Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 at the San Diego Convention Center. The event-tagged as “Harboring Energy Innovation” this year-actually kicks off Monday, Jan. 30 with the Utility University offerings of half- and all-day courses focused on heavy challenges within the sector, from line sensor deployment to communications to outage management systems, synchrophasor technology and capital project justifications. Separate registration is required for Utility University. You can find details for the courses on distributech.com.
#DTECH2017-as it will be known throughout the Twitter universe-will officially start Tuesday morning, Jan. 31, with the keynote address. Speakers include Geoff Colvin, editor-at-large for Fortune magazine; Scott Drury, chief supply officer and incoming president of SDG&E, and Audrey Zibelman, chair of the New York Public Service Commission.
The sessions, beginning Tuesday and running through Thursday, Feb. 2, revolve around 14 conference tracks. Many of them are well-known, from Advanced Metering to Distribution Automation and Geospatial. DistribuTECH 2017, however, offers some new tracks: Microgrids; DER, DR and other Non-wire Alternatives; and Internet of Things & Smart Cities were added as the event evolves with a fast-changing relationship between utilities and customers.
Breakfast roundtables on Wednesday morning allow attendees to throw around important questions on various industry challenges while starting the day off right with a hearty meal. The Women in Utilities Networking Breakfast brings together top female executives who have influenced positive change in their businesses. Both breakfast events are priced separately from DistribuTECH, so check out distributech.com for more details.
Mega sessions are like a midway offering between Utility University and the shorter sessions. These are 90-minute deeper drills into key, daily issues for utilities and their vendors. These high-level panels feature leaders from California to France, while topics range from hiring the next generation of electric power engineers to grid analytics and establishing data management fabrics for modernization efforts.
Once you’ve had enough of microgrids and IoT particulars-if such a thing is possible-take heart that fun is on the way. DistribuTECH is treating attendees to multiple networking parties every night. The 500-plus exhibitors are invited to a party just for them starting at 4 p.m. Monday at PennWell Booth 3648. The DistribuTECH opening reception will be Tuesday evening on the exhibit floor right after the conference sessions end.
The water reception, sponsored by WaterWorld magazine, and the annual blast It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere will kick off Wednesday’s afternoon festivities.
The “Lights! Camera! Network!” party will follow those at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Ballroom CD. “Lights! Camera! Network!” offers networking, of course, but also dancing, movies, a popcorn bar, drinks and live music. Time to get your movie star on and strike a pose!
POWERGRID International is the official publication for DistribuTECH 2017, which is owned and produced by parent company Pennwell. Other supporting publications include Utility Products, Electric Light & Power, WaterWorld and Renewable Energy World.
Gem-level sponsors of DistribuTECH 2017 (at press time) include Itron, Oracle, Landis+Gyr, OSI, Leidos, Honeywell Elster, S&C Electric, Smart Utility Systems, Siemens and Accenture.