Connecting at the Bay DTECH2017

Brings Global T&D Leaders Back to San Diego

By Rod Walton, Senior Editor

You can harbor a vessel on a captain’s ambition, or harbor a fugitive despite your suspicion. But let’s be honest as allowed by law: Isn’t Harboring Energy Innovation the greatest of all?

That last line is the theme of the 27th annual DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition returning to San Diego from Jan. 31-Feb. 2. And, frankly, you can’t conceal the industry splash that will be made for those three days at the San Diego Convention Center. More than 11,000 attendees, 500 exhibitors, 100-plus expert speakers and 14 conference tracks will see to that.

“There are few opportunities like DTECH to pulse such a large cross-section of the utility industry,” said Steve Schneider, chief solutions architect at Leidos Engineering Inc., one of the event’s sponsors. “At Leidos, we participate at DTECH because we greatly value the feedback and input we receive from our customers and other industry stakeholders related to their challenges and our latest technology and service offerings.”

DistribuTECH returns to San Diego after two years to partake in the city’s devotion in using technology to produce a cleaner, more efficient and profitable power grid. Our host utility, San Diego Gas & Electric, is at the forefront of many smart grid and distributed generation movements, recently named PA Consulting’s ReliabilityOne Award winner for the west region. And #DTECH2017-as it will be known on Twitter-is where many industry innovations will be announced and vetted by scores of insiders.

DistribuTECH 2017 in Detail

When: Jan. 31-Feb. 2

Where: San Diego Convention Center

Attendees: More than 11,300

Exhibitors: More than 500

Conference Tracks: 14

Total Social Media Audience Reach of #DTECH2016: 6,762,028

Website to register:


“DistribuTECH offers both the cutting edge and the valuable real-world experiences in technology from the substation to the home meter and beyond,” Conference Program Chairwoman Teresa Hansen, also Editor-in-Chief of POWERGRID International, the event’s official publication, said. POWERGRID International’s parent company PennWell owns and produces DistribuTECH.

“Every year, whether it’s about substation automation, microgrid islanding, post-Black Energy cybersecurity or top-shelf customer service, the latest and best information gets talked about here,” Hansen added. “It’s all business all day, but we also try to have a lot of fun in the evenings.”

DistribuTECH’s 14 conference tracks will include the usual draws such as Advanced Metering, Communications Solutions and Distribution Automation, among others. But any event that truly desires growth also encourages change, so three new tracks for the 2017 version are added: Microgrids, Internet of Things/Smart Cities, and DER, DR and Other Non-wire Alternatives. The former will feature panelists from all over the globe, from the Korea Electric Power Research Institute to GE Grid Solutions, Oncor to EDF.

The newly minted IoT/Smart Cities track will hold sessions on the “Connected Home and Connected Utility: Bring Your Own Device” and “Smart Cities and the Energy Transition.” Comverge, Schneider Electric, Black & Veatch, the U.S. Department of Energy and Commonwealth Edison will be among the vendors, researchers and utilities offering their expertise-and offering hard-earned answers-on this growing field. Gartner research indicates that so-called “smart cities” are already using about 1.6 billion connected things this year, including 314 million devices involving utilities alone.

“What makes IoT an exciting frontier is that the value of connectedness of intelligent devices now forms a platform where applications, driven by business intelligence and data analytics, can transform envisioned capability into reality,” said conference track chairman Ron Chebra, Verizon Enterprise Services’ senior IoT architect for energy and utilities. “It provides the means to deliver practical solutions driven by logical orchestration of activities that can be tailored by condition-based information.”

Such things may sound like inside baseball to utility novices, but DistribuTECH also boasts some heavy hitters outside the industry. The Jan. 31 keynote features Geoff Colvin, senior editor-at-large for Fortune magazine, who will share his views on how the digital transformation impacts energy-related businesses. Colvin is a veteran of Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News and ABC World News Tonight.

Joining Colvin on the keynote program will be Audrey Zibelman, chair of the New York Public Service Commission, and Scott Drury, newly promoted president of San Diego Gas & Electric.

DistribuTECH 2017 also will announce the coveted annual Projects of the Year at the keynote. The categories are Customer Engagement, Demand Response/Energy Efficiency, Renewable Grid Integration and Grid Optimization. Last year’s winning utilities included PPL Electric, Duke Energy Ohio, Hawaiian Electric and CenterPoint Energy.

Augmenting the drill-down depth of the conference tracks will be Mega Sessions and the Monday, Jan. 30 all-day Utility University. The conference prelude, Utility University offers topics ranging from distribution management systems to SCADA, AMI operations, outage management in deeper measure often required by most ambitious grid professionals. The mega sessions, slotted on Wednesday, Feb.1, pull out meatier examinations of sector challenges such as plugging into the Smart City Revolution and hiring the next generation of electric power engineers.

The morning starts bright and early with a variety of Breakfast Roundtables on Wednesday, Feb. 1. Those morning sessions include au courant topics such as aging infrastructure, AMI/AMR, cybersecurity, drones, grid-edge devices, mobile technologies and synchrophaser measurement and precision time. The Women in Utilities networking breakfast also occurs on Wednesday morning at the same time.

That sounds like a lot of work-albeit with great food thrown in for good measure-but even the most ambitious grid professional needs to cut loose every once and a while. And #DTECH2017 will offer plenty of opportunity for networking and fun, since those two words can surely be interconnected.

The conference has a party planned every night from Monday, Jan. 30 to Wednesday, Feb. 1. First up on late Monday is the Exhibitor ONLY Reception hosted by POWERGRID International and Electric Light & Power at Pennwell Booth No. 3648. On Tuesday evening will be DistribuTECH’s Opening Reception on the exhibit floor. Follow up Wednesday’s array of roundtables, mega sessions and exhibitions by dancing and connecting at the networking party hosted by POWERGRID International magazine.

Those are all the day’s parties, but the fun doesn’t end there. Wrapping up DistribuTECH’s Thursday afternoon finale is the Car Giveaway at the Pennwell booth. At last year’s event, a lucky attendee won a brand-new Camaro. This time around, someone can go home with a sleek, eye-catching Dodge Challenger.

“Who knows? You could come in by airplane and leave by automobile,” Hansen quipped. “Truly DistribuTECH has something for everyone.”

Itron is Diamond Sponsor for DistribuTECH 2017. Other gem-level sponsors include AES, GE, Oracle, Landis+Gyr, OSI, Leidos, Honeywell, S&C Electric, Accenture, Smart Utility Systems and Siemens.

Go to for more information on sessions and to register.


  • 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

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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

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