As part of GE’s Smart Grid Team, Byron Flynn works closely with electric utilities to support their smart grid solutions. His expertise in smart grid technologies grew all the way from a fascination with the U.S. space program when he was a child. The space interest became a love of math and science, which eventually turned into an electrical engineering degree.
Flynn, who is currently smart grid technical director with GE Energy, started his career at Idaho Power where he realized that there were many opportunities to apply technology to the electrical grid, and smart grid is where that is happening right now.
“I spend much of my time in discussions with utilities about what is important to them and in helping them design a smart grid solution and roadmap that fits. The problems we are addressing tend to be pretty big and also tend to push the technology envelope. Consequently, we are continually pushing ourselves to learn new things,” Flynn said.
Flynn is teaching GE Power Systems Education Course, Smart Grid: Substation/Distribution Automation with John MacDonald. The course, held in October at the GE Learning Center in Schenectady, New York, should provide the foundations for students to better understand how automation and smart grid solutions integrate information technologies with current electrical infrastructure to deliver energy efficiency, productivity, and environmental benefits such as:
- Optimizing renewable energy sources and enabling broader penetration.
- Delivering increases in energy efficiencies and decreasing carbon emissions.
- Increasing power reliability and operational efficiencies, delivering greater productivity.
- Empowering consumers to manage their energy usage and save money without compromising their lifestyle.
“We all need to help with the effort to make the electric grid smarter to meet some big challenges,” Flynn said. “A smarter grid can empower utilities and consumers to make smarter choices that save energy, resources, money and the planet.”
Flynn has taught several classes on SCADA, substation and distribution automation, monitoring and diagnostics and advanced metering. This automation course helps tie them all together, he said.
Flynn believes this is an exciting time to be in the energy business and he shares that enthusiasm with his students. “Our world is facing some pretty big problems - growing world wide energy demand, volatile fuel prices, increasing capital and financing costs, scarce skilled personnel, changing regulations, aging infrastructure, and demanding environmental requirements,” he said. “Nearly everyone is looking for technical solutions for these problems. Our industry needs bright people to bring their knowledge, skills and abilities to help us all meet these challenges.”
In his role as smart grid technical director, Flynn is responsible for supporting electric utilities’ development of Smart Grid solution architectures, roadmaps and business cases. This includes GE’s wide range of innovative solutions from the generator to the meter and into the home..
Flynn joined GE in 1999 with the acquisition of Stellar Dynamics, a company specializing in automation systems and services, formerly part of Idaho Power Co. Prior to his role at GE, Flynn served in sales and marketing with Stellar Dynamics, a subsidiary of Idaho Power in Boise, Idaho. In this role, he was responsible for substation automation solutions from 1996 until the acquisition. Prior to that assignment, Flynn served as Power Control Supervisor with Idaho Power responsible for EMS and SCADA engineering and maintenance. His service to Idaho Power began in 1981 and includes working in the Communications, Substation Design, and Operations Departments.
Flynn said the best thing about being a technical director is the reward of helping customers solve a big problem in a new way. And the best thing about living in Idaho is the outdoors. He and his wife and three sons enjoy snow skiing in the winter and camping and hiking all year round. They usually go on a big, 50-mile hike in the Idaho Mountains every year.
“It makes for a great family vacation especially as there is no cell/email coverage in the wilderness,” Flynn said.