Step Right Up

28th Conference Returns to San Antonio

By Rod Walton, Senior Editor

Maybe it’s more than symbolic that DistribuTECH 2018 will be a short distance from the Alamo. It should be an industry gathering to remember.

Attendees from utilities and vendors from dozens of nations will converge on San Antonio this month to attend a three-day barrage of information focused on everything grid-from data analytics to distributed energy to substation integration. DistribuTECH runs Tuesday, Jan. 23 to Thursday, Jan. 25 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in the downtown area.

Whether it’s open field message bus cases from the U.S., metering and billing in Canada or substation automation in Colombia, DistribuTECH has got the world covered. Our speakers have been there, done that and lived to tell the tale.

Attendee receives gift bag at last year’s DistribuTECH in San Diego

“DistribuTECH is the No. 1 convention for utilities, vendors, integrators, consultants and researchers to share current and future applications, requirements, solutions and strategies to improve reliability and safety of critical infrastructure,” said Richard Corrigan, information security principal at San Diego Gas & Electric and chairman for the cybersecurity-focused Defending the Grid track.

The event, either as DistribuTECH or by earlier titles (DA/DSM), has been around almost three decades. The industry sure has changed since then and the conference has changed right there with it.

“The early shows were much more hardware focused,” said David Elve, chief marketing officer at PayGo and a conference planning committee member. “Now we have more technology, software and business process discussions. Today’s DistribuTECH even has sessions on end customers and how utilities engage them.”

Grid protection is an ever crucial priority for utilities around the globe. The Black Energy attack in the Ukraine a few years ago is proof positive of why they should care. Defending the Grid conference track will feature sessions on securing communications, best practices in using DNP3, lessons learned from the unintended consequences of moving distributed energy resources on the grid and instilling company culture as the best line of defense. Entergy, Exelon, SDG&E and Western Farmers Electric Cooperative will be among the utilities represented, backed up by service partners such as Black & Veatch, Rockwell Collins and Deloitte and specialty security firms focused on the threats hiding behind the 1s and 0s. (Full disclosure: this story’s author is a member of the Defending the Grid committee and serves as co-chair on some sessions).

“Operating technologies, information technologies and cybersecurity are converging to advance the reliability and applications of service delivery,” Corrigan said. “System protection is no longer enough to assure utility services. Cybersecurity protection is needed to assure availability, integrity and confidentiality of communications and information flows. DistribuTECH’s Defending the Grid track provides awareness of strategies and solutions leading utilities are deploying to improve the resiliency and safety of critical infrastructure.”

DERs, DR and Other Non-Wires Alternatives was last year’s most popular track, attendance-wise. Track planners reached across the U.S. for experts this time around, featuring utilities such as ConEd, Central Maine, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Duke Energy Florida, American Electric Power and Pepco Holdings. The Substation Integration track is perhaps the most internationally connected this year, with panelists giving examples from Hydro One and ENMAX Power in Canada, Empresas Pàƒºblicas de Medellàƒ­n of Colombia, Siemens from Germany and SUBNET Solutions from Australia. National Grid and others will be there to offer the American view.

No doubt the Internet of Things (IoT)is transforming every facet of life, whether it be industrial or interpersonal, from manufacturing to home appliances. DistribuTECH’s IoT-Smart Cities track will highlight all the areas where utilities can fit in and even lead the connected revolution. These include case studies and smart city strategies which go into and also beyond street light rollouts. Eversource Energy, Oracle, New York Independent System Operator, Avista and Excel are among the roster of grid pros, service providers, researchers and regulators who will recount what they are learning about the ever growing IoT in relation to the power sector.

The Geospatial track is one of the conference’s most traditional, in some respects, but even that is changing with technology. Field workers obviously still need GIS to deal with data, inspection and issues of asset life cycle. Speakers for Geospatial will include industry leaders from OSISoft, Westar Energy, DataCapable and InfoSys, among others. Spatially enabling the electric transmission and distribution system, improving workflows and networks with drones and satellites are among the topics covered.

Utility University (UU) kicks off the week’s events Monday, Jan. 22, with a slate full of four-hour or all-day sessions for those who want a deeper look at the industry’s technical challenges and skillsets. Advanced distribution management, SCADA, line sensor deployment and outage management systems are among the detailed programs offered at UU. The courses are priced separately from the main conference. More information and registration detail for UU are available at

Both the UU courses and DistribuTECH general exhibitor set-up begin 8 a.m. Monday. The main event’s keynote-led off by POWERGRID International Editor-in-Chief and conference chairwoman Teresa Hansen-will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Keynote speakers include social media influencer Tamara McCleary, host utility CPS Energy’s CEO Paula Gold-Williams, New York Power Authority CEO Gil Quiniones and Energy Incubator deputy director and University of Texas at Austin professor and researcher Michael Webber.

The POWERGRID International and DistribuTECH Projects of the Year award winners also will be announced during the keynote. Awards will be given for projects in Grid Optimization, DER Integration, Customer Engagement and Demand Response/Energy Efficiency.

DistribuTECH offers plenty of chances to unwind and have a little fun with friends both old and new. The opening reception and It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere celebration will be 5 p.m. Tuesday and 4 p.m. Wednesday, respectively, on the exhibit floor (at sponsored booths for the latter). The giant networking party called “Step Right Up and Network” will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday and is open to all attendees who wear their DistribuTECH badges.

Networking, of course, happens throughout the three-day event and beyond. Conversations get started, relationships are forged and deals often get done. “The networking-it’s the best time of the year in the industry,” Elve pointed out.

Thursday, DistribuTECH’s last day, will feature morning sessions and a floor giveaway-a new pickup-at 12:30 p.m. at the PennWell booth. PennWell is the parent company of DistribuTECH and its sponsoring publication POWERGRID International.

Diamond sponsor for DistribuTECH 2018 is Itron. Other premium sponsors include Oracle, Landis+Gyr, Honeywell, OSI, G&W Electric, Accenture, Black & Veatch, Siemens, Smart Energy Water, EY and S&C Electric.

As of print date, more than 40 utilities had signed up to be DistribuTECH utility partners, including premier utility partners Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Entergy, Duke Energy, PG&E, Florida Power & Light, Salt River Project, DTE Energy, Austin Energy, Dominion Energy, Puget Sound Energy , American Electric Power, Oncor Electric Delivery and Exelon. San Antonio’s utility CPS Energy is DistribuTECH’s host utility.

DistribuTECH Schedule

Monday, Jan. 22, 2018

7 a.m.-5 p.m.: Registration

8 a.m.-5 p.m.: General exhibitor set-Up

8 a.m.-5 p.m.: Utility University courses

4 p.m.-5 p.m. Exhibitor Only reception

Tuesday, January 23

7:30 p.m.: Registration starts (Tuesday and Wednesday)

9 a.m.: Keynote

11 a.m.: Exhibit floor opens

11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.: Delegate lunch

1 p.m.-4:30 p.m.: Conference sessions

5 p.m.: Opening reception on exhibit floor

Wednesday, January 24

8 a.m.: Breakfast roundtable and Women in Utilities Networking breakfast

8:30 a.m.-10 a.m.: Conference sessions

9 a.m.: Exhibit floor opens

1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. DistribuTECH mega-sessions

4 p.m.: It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere reception

5 p.m.: Networking party

Thursday, January 25

8 a.m.: Registration

8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. Conference sessions

10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.: Last round of sessions

12:30 p.m.: Floor giveaway

DTECH by the Numbers

Attendees: 13,569

Utilities Represented: 326

Exhibitors: 520+

Nations Represented: 77

Conference Sessions: 84

Speakers: 472

Tweets Written: 11,900

statistics from #DTECH2017

Advertising Exhibitors


ABB INC. 1809

ABB will introduce its ABB Ability digital capability. With various prestigious companies and brands now folded into ABB’s portfolio, no other smart grid solution partner can offer the breadth of systems expertise, equipment, software, and communications technologies. These technologies increase the digitalization of grid facilities by converging data, sensors, communications and controls.


Advanced Test Equipment Rentals (ATEC) supplies complete testing solutions for Substations, Power Transmission, Power Quality and similar testing applications in the Power Industry. ATEC takes pride in serving our customers with invaluable expertise and technical support since 1981.


Barrett’s integrated HF radio systems provide secure, mission critical voice, data and email communications. These include currently deployed solutions for major Electric Grid and Power Transmission Agencies within the US. They enable seamless primary and emergency communications when other critical radio and/or telephone systems fail.


Black & Veatch offers a system-wide view needed to deliver a modern grid of integrated solutions from power generation to consumer. We can merge all the pieces from: DERs, communications, distribution automation, customer engagement, electric vehicle integration, data analytics and more.  


Clevest provides utilities with configurable software for all their mobile workforce management and smart grid operations needs. We specialize in optimizing utility field operations, and automating field activities and processes, to improve safety, reliability and response time. Solutions include storm response, damage assessment, mobile outage, mutual aid, inspections, meter services, AMI deployments/post-deployments, smart grid visualization, workforce automation/management, worker location, and automatic vehicle location (AVL).


The CyberLock access control system of electronic locks and programmable keys increases security, accountability, and key control throughout a facility without hard wiring. CyberLock can help you meet NERC/CIP standards and secure gates, control houses, server racks, and more.


Grid One Solutions Inc. specializes in AMI deployments for electric, gas and water utilities. In addition to smart grid implementation services for in-home displays and load control devices, Grid One performs meter reading, field service work, customer call center operations and back office services including secure data transfer and storage.


Hubbell Power Systems manufactures a wide variety of transmission, distribution, substation, underground, communications, protection and enclosure products including overhead and pad-mounted switches, vacuum switches, reclosers, capacitors, sectionalizers, motor operators and products to monitor and protect the grid.

ITRON 2609

Itron is a world-leading technology and services company dedicated to the resourceful use of energy and water. Our portfolio includes electricity, gas, water and thermal energy measurement devices and control technology; networking and communications systems; managed and consulting services; and cloud-based and on-premise software.


Manitoba Hydro International is the market leader that connects wearable technology with fieldworkers. Combining automated inspection workflows, remote assistance, workforce management, and augmented reality improves coordination, efficiency and safety.


Mitsubishi, a leader in technology of rear projection cubes was the first manufacturer to introduce DLP technology in applications for critical environments in the electrical distribution sector that operate 24/7. Our products incorporate cutting-edge technology that offers a higher yield, higher quality, lower price and lower cost of ownership (100,000 hours without maintenance). See our full line of products including our new NPP DV-LED wall.


Moxa is a leading provider of edge connectivity, industrial computing, and network infrastructure solutions for enabling connectivity for the Industrial Internet of Things. With over 30 years of industry experience, Moxa has connected more than 50 million devices worldwide and has a distribution and service network that reaches customers in more than 70 countries.


Open Systems International ( provides open, state-of-the-art and high-performance automation solutions to utilities worldwide. These solutions include Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, Network Management Systems (NMS), Energy Management Systems (EMS), Distribution Management Systems (DMS), Outage Management Systems (OMS), Generation Management Systems (GMS), Substation Automation Systems (SA), Data Warehousing (Historian) Analytics, Situational Awareness Systems, individual software and hardware products, and Smart Grid solutions for utility operations.


POWER Engineers is an international leader in power delivery. We bring strength, depth, and expertise to utilities and developers facing system upgrades, multi-faceted power delivery projects, or unique system performance issues. Our services include: Microgrid, Grid Integration, Renewables, Energy Storage, Communications, SCADA, Protective Relaying, NERC Compliance, Substation, Distribution Automation, GIS, Line and Network Security.


S&C Electric Company manufactures products, designs solutions, and innovates technologies to improve the reliability of electric power grids worldwide. S&C stabilizes power in communities using microgrids and energy storage, and pioneers smart and self-healing systems that reduce outages from hours to seconds – or eliminate them entirely.


Sensus helps public service providers-from utilities to cities to industrial complexes and campuses-do more with their infrastructure to improve quality of life in their communities. We partner with them to anticipate and respond to evolving business needs with innovation in metrology, communications technologies, data analytics and services.


From the control room to the consumer, we provide our customers with what they need to maintain flexibility, consistency, and speed in the digital and distributed energy era. We enable our customers to answer today’s – as well as tomorrow’s – challenges. With an installed base of 1.4 million digital protection devices, 70 million contracted smart end devices, and 1600 control centers worldwide, let us show you our full range of agility-enabling solutions and services–all proven in real world utility applications.

Smartenit 605

Smartenit is a holistic IoT solutions provider with three focus areas-Energy, Water, Security. Protocol-agnostic solutions include utility-grade high capacity load controllers, SCE approved gateway, various sensors, and controllers for irrigation, lighting, appliances, security equipment, etc.


Xplore is The Rugged Tablet Authorityà¢â€ž-, exclusively manufacturing powerful, long-lasting, and customer-defined rugged tablet PCs since 1996. XPlore’s broadest portfolio of genuinely rugged tablets and complete line of rugged tablet accessories are purpose-built for the energy, utilities, telecommunications, military and defense, manufacturing, distribution, public safety and healthcare.


  • 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

Previous articleBack to the Future, POWERGRID Style
Next articleHurricane Forces
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

No posts to display