PICA Provides `New Solutions to Meet New Challenges`
Columbus, Ohio, set the stage for the 20th International Conference on Power Industry Computer Applications (PICA `97) held May 11-16. Sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)-Power Engineering Society and hosted by American Electric Power, PICA `97 was attended by approximately 1,500 electrical engineers and researchers from around the world, brought together to share the latest developments in computer applications for the power industry.
Conference highlights included displays on tools for the deregulated marketplace, power system operation assessment, DA, energy dispatch management, and system modeling and planning. The technical program included panel discussions, paper sessions, tutorials and poster sessions.
At the opening session, keynote speaker William J. Lhota, AEP`s executive vice president, shared a few remarks about the conference`s theme, “New Solutions to Meet New Challenges.” He urged utilities to reinvest in information technology tools to compete in the newly deregulated environment. In the transition to competition, the power companies must maintain a high level of reliability to provide customers with better value. “Technology can bring down operations costs and will be the primary driver of electric utility structuring,” he said.
One of PICA `97`s major highlights was the announcement of the winner of the Carl Barus Award for Outstanding Service in the Public Interest. This prestigious award, presented by the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology, was given to Rebecca Leaf. Leaf, an MIT engineering graduate from Boston, brought electric power to several hundred people in the remote regions of Nicaragua. This was done despite great peril from Contra forces, a major change in government, a devastating hurricane and inexperience with hydroelectric projects. Her continuing efforts have also helped empower the local residents with the knowledge and skills to handle the technical and administrative aspects of operating these hydroelectric plants.