NERC Standards, Super Bowl to Highlight DistribuTECH 2007

After nearly a year of planning, DistribuTECH 2007 is almost here. The conference and exhibition takes place in San Diego, Calif., Feb. 4-6 and features 65 conference sessions in 14 different subject areas, a full-day of intensive pre-conference courses, a keynote session focusing on the new importance of reliability standards and a free Super Bowl party.

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Couple all of that with 80 degree weather in February, and it’s not hard to find a reason or two to join the anticipated 4,000-plus who will be in attendance when DistribuTECH returns to the West Coast.

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Click here to view Distributech Exhibitor List

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Click here to view Distributech Conference Grid

Utility University Packs a One-day Punch

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DistribuTECH’s popular Utility University pre-conference courses this year will all take place on one day, Saturday Feb. 3, 2007. A variety of full-day and half-day courses are offered in a number of subject areas.

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UU104: Distribution Automation Strategies for Success. Saturday, Feb. 3, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This full-day seminar is intended to prepare electric utilities for the challenges that arise when implementing a distribution automation system. The course will cover key concepts, specific vendor offerings and lessons learned by other utilities, providing participants with the foundation needed to successfully complete their own distribution automation projects.

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UU 106: IED Integration and Substation Automation: Technical Alternatives and System Benefits. Saturday, Feb. 3, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Attendees who choose this full-day course will become familiar with all aspects of substation automation, from the components and integration architecture alternatives inside the substation to the use of substation data by various utility users outside the substation. Instructors will focus on the sensitive, controversial issues that every utility needs to address when implementing substation automation. Five different general vendor approaches to substation integration and automation are contrasted, providing course participants a unique insight into the decisions vendors have made with their system and product approaches.

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UU 107: Using the IEC 61850 Standard for Communication Networks and Systems in Substations. Saturday, Feb. 3, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The editors of the IEC 61850 standard will provide this course’s attendees with an overview of how to use the standard for substation communications networks. Instructors will provide a technical overview of IEC 61850 as well as information on configuring and testing substations using the standard. Case studies of successful implementations will also be provided.

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UU 108: Substation Protection, Control, Communications and Data Integration in the New Century. Saturday, Feb. 3, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Protective relays and substation IEDs are the eyes and ears for modern integrated and automated substations. They protect the system, control and monitor power apparatus, and connect via LAN and WAN to exchange data with substation host computers and with the utility enterprise. In this course, instructors and attendees will examine changes in application and support issues for relays and substation systems, and enterprisewide communications that support new integration and protection approaches.

UU 112: Managing the Cost, Performance and Risk of Distribution Assets. Saturday, Feb. 3, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In its most general sense, asset management is a business approach that attempts to balance cost, performance and risk. For distribution companies, this represents a strategic shift from engineering-based and standards-driven decisions toward business-driven decisions. This course will cover all topics that are critical for distribution companies wishing to make this fundamental transition. Through asset management, distribution companies can address their most pressing issues, including aging infrastructure, reliability, asset utilization, planning, automation, maintenance, project selection and risk management. This course provides a solid foundation so that asset management can be pursued systematically and holistically.

UU 102: Basic Introduction to Hacking and Cyber Security Concepts. Saturday, Feb. 3, 8 a.m. to noon. In this half-day course, a noted author and expert on cyber security will introduce non-experts to the concepts, terminology and techniques of cyber security and cyber threats. Students will leave this course with an adequate understanding of the concepts so they can interact with their own IT personnel and security experts and have an understanding of the specialized vocabulary used by such personnel. They will also gain a basic knowledge of the types and sources of cyber threats as well as the technology and techniques used to provide security.

UU 109: DNP3 Applied to Real Life. Saturday, Feb. 3, 8 a.m. to noon. The DNP3 protocol is widely used in North America. Today, people are familiar with setting up DNP3 relays, gateways and SCADA but often do not know how to avoid the pitfalls of bad DNP3 configuration. This course aims for SCADA engineers and field engineers to be able to configure both ends of the communication correctly, optimize the flow of information, avoid pitfalls and improve communication regarding relay and SCADA system capabilities. The course will cover a number of real-life communication and configuration pitfalls so engineers will know what to look out for.

UU110: It’s Socket Science: Essentials of AMI Selection for Energy Utilities. Saturday, Feb. 3, 8 a.m. to noon. Justifying and planning the procurement of an advanced metering infrastructure is difficult business. It’s technically complex, and the financial consequences of any error are severe. In this course, utilities preparing to enter the world of AMI can benefit from the experience of others who have been there, done that. The course is designed for a broad audience of senior staff through executives with responsibility for planning, financial functions, metering and customer service. The method is rigorous, defensible to management and regulators, and helps the utility actually obtain the benefits after the AMI is installed. (See also UU111.)

UU 101: Advanced Communications, Networking and Internet Technology. Saturday, Feb, 3, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This afternoon course will introduce non-experts to the concepts of digital networking and the Internet. The major talking points of the course will include: Ethernet LANs, wireless networks, cellular networks, frame relay, ATM, FDDI and IP-based networking (specifically the Internet.) The course will cover the building blocks of networks: hubs, switches, routers and gateways, and will contrast connection-oriented and connectionless networking. A good portion of the class will be spent on Internet topics such as IPsec and VPN security, IPv6 performance enhancements, and cyber security issues.

UU 103: Practical Development of a Utility SCADA Security Policy. Saturday, Feb, 3, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. In this course, attendees will learn the process of developing a security policy for a utility SCADA network. Attendees will leave the half-day course with an understanding of what makes a SCADA security policy effective, who should be involved in the development, and how to map the process to their organization. The course will draw on firsthand experience developing a wide-area communications network (including SCADA) security policy for one of the largest utilities in the U.S.

UU 105: Making the Right Automation Choices for your Company. Saturday, Feb, 3, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This half-day course will help engineers focus on the important aspects of automation projects. Attendees will learn the importance of identifying the business case for management, rather than chasing technology and getting sidetracked. Ultimately, attendees will learn the true value automation can provide their companies.

UU111: Our AMI System was Worth It; Let Me Prove It to You. Saturday, Feb, 3, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This course, a sequel to Utility University course 110, is designed for utilities that already have AMI/AMR, or have completed planning and will deploy soon. It’s an expert tour through the essential feedback and reporting requirements to measure, manage, and maximize the return on AMI. Lessons learned can be applied during AMI planning for attendees now formulating AMI plans and can also be applied in retrospect by utilities who already have AMI in place. The course provides unique examples, tools and approaches attendees can use at their own utilities.

Full details on DistribuTECH 2007’s Utility University courses, including information about course instructors and information on how to register for courses, are available at www.distributech.com.

NERC Standards a Focus of Keynote

In July of this year, the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) was approved as the Electric Reliability Organization (ERO) for the United States, meaning it now has legal authority to enforce reliability standards on owners, operators and users of the bulk power system, rather than relying on voluntary compliance as in the past. As ERO, NERC has already submitted more than 100 standards to FERC for approval. Once approved, those standards will become mandatory and could carry financial penalties for owners and operators of the grid who are not in compliance.

Needless to say, the topic of NERC standards will be at the forefront of power industry discussions for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, conference organizers have secured NERC’s vice president and director of standards, Gerry Cauley, as a speaker for DistribuTECH’s keynote session, which kicks off the DistribuTECH conference at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 4. Cauley oversees the process for developing reliability standards at NERC and also served as project coordinator for NERC’s transition to become the electric reliability organization.

Also slated for the keynote session is Michael Carlson, vice president and chief information officer at Xcel Energy. Carlson was named one of 33 “rising stars” by CIO magazine in 2005, based partly on his involvement with Xcel’s Utility Innovations program. That unique program, which involved collaboration from a number of vendors, was the recipient of Utility Automation & Engineering T&D‘s Automation Project of the Year at DistribuTECH 2006.

And finally, in honor of Super Bowl weekend, Brian Holloway, a five-time NFL All-Pro with the New England Patriots, will provide an inspirational message to end the keynote session and kick off the rest of the DistribuTECH conference.

Following the keynote session, the DistribuTECH exhibit hall opens, giving attendees the opportunity to interact with more than 200 product and service providers (see up-to-date exhibitor list on pages 36-37) and see the latest in utility technology.

DistribuTECH conference sessions begin at 1 p.m. on Feb. 4. This year’s conference program features three days of 14 unique tracks and includes discussions on substation automation, distribution automation, standards such DNP 3.0 and IEC 61850, the latest on cyber security compliance challenges, transmission system technology, advanced metering infrastructure, water utility technology and more. See the conference grid on pages 38-39 of this issue for session titles, and log on to www.distributech.com for full details about the individual sessions.

Ready for Some Football?

The conference session and exhibit hall will close down a little early on DistribuTECH’s first day in 2007. The reason: It’s Super Bowl Sunday and everyone has a party to go to. The DistribuTECH Super Bowl Extravaganza takes place on-site at the San Diego Convention Center, directly above the exhibit hall, beginning at 3:00 and running until 8:30. The party is free to all DistribuTECH attendees, exhibitors and sponsors, and the game will be displayed on a number of screens including a 9-foot-by-12-foot and two 6-foot-by-8-foot big screens. There won’t be a bad seat in the house. Free beer, wine, soft drinks and appetizers will be available until halftime.

More to Come

Next month’s issue of Utility Automation & Engineering T&D will include much more information on DistribuTECH 2007, including more details on the keynote session and information about selected conference sessions. In the meantime, more information is available at www.distributech.com.

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