Be Part of the Grid Evolution Discussion

“If Alexander Graham Bell were on earth today, he would not recognize the telephone; however, if Thomas Edison were here today, he would have no trouble recognizing the electricity grid.” How many times have you heard that or something similar? I’ve heard it many times, but I don’t think I’ll hear it much in the future. The grid is evolving and beginning to look less like the grid that has been around for decades. This evolution creates challenges and opportunities for utilities, as well as sleepless nights for utility executives.

The days when all electricity traveled from large central station power plants through the grid to captive customers are over. Large power plants and long-distance, one-way transmission will be around for years, but that will cease to be the only model for electricity generation and delivery. The amount of small-scale distributed generation being added to the grid is increasing and will continue to do so. As distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar photovoltaic technology become cheaper and markets incentivize electricity consumers to become electricity generators, the grid will evolve, along with customers and the entities that serve them. Who knows? One day you might generate your own electricity or buy it from your neighbor or your homeowners association.

If these possibilities intrigue you, or more important, affect you and your company, you should attend the Electric Light & Power Executive Conference, a DistribuTECH co-located event. Senior Editor Kristen Wright and I have worked with a small group of industry experts to create this event that is now in its sixth year. It is designed to cover a few select topics that are covered at DistribuTECH, but in a less technical and more business-centric way. The upcoming conference will occur Monday, Feb. 2-the day before DistribuTECH begins. Its focus will be the electricity industry’s changing business models and technologies and how they are affecting the grid.

Industry executives will participate in a full day of panel discussions that will include audience participation. They are: Policy and Strategy Evolution; Whose Customer is it Anyway?; (Distributed Energy Resources) Impact on Utility Planning and Operations; and The View From the Top. The entire program should be great, but I’m especially excited about The View From the Top, which will be led by five investor-owned utility CEOs.

If you’re a utility manager or executive, please join us Feb. 2 at the Omni San Diego Hotel. If you already plan to attend DistribuTECH, it’s simple to upgrade your registration to include the EL&P Executive Conference. You can find details about the event, including how to register, at I think you’ll be impressed with the experts we’ve recruited to discuss these important topics. I hope to see you soon in sunny San Diego at the Electric Light & Power Executive Conference, DistribuTECH or both.

TERESA HANSEN   Editor in chief
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