My mission, which I chose to accept, was to go on a search-and-discover trip to DistribuTECH 2016. But, let me digress a bit. My name is Dave Shadle and I am honored to be joining the T&D World Grid Optimization Center of Excellence. In the past, I licensed and developed transmission and distribution projects, handled cogeneration initiatives for an IOU and developed fossil and renewable power projects. Most of my recent experience has been in the gas and renewable generation sector, so I have to admit I am a bit behind on the ways of smart grid technology.
No pressure. One of the beautiful things about T&D World is that it’s a family made up of people with varying viewpoints, ages and areas of expertise that work together and help one another produce top-shelf material for T&D’s audience. I’ve seen and done a lot in the power industry during my 30-plus year career and plan to see and do much more with the T&D World team at my back.
Back to DistribuTECH. I attended with about 12,000 of my closest friends and 500-plus-or-minus exhibitors who showcased the coolest stuff. I am sharing what I learned and contact information for new friends I met with my team. After all, it was the biggest “Smart Event” of 2016. Certainly, a highlight for me was having the opportunity to meet and mingle with the team from ABB, T&D World’s partner that hosts the Grid Optimization Center of Excellence.
I am honored to report that I will be sharing duties for a time with Paul Mauldin, the longtime editor for the Center of Excellence. Together, we will bring you the latest news, information and opinions at the Center of Excellence.
We all know the industry has experienced more than a few disruptive challenges in recent years. For several years running, the most cited challenge has been aging infrastructure. That’s followed by an aging workforce. I heard more than one DistribuTECH attendee joke that the only thing older than their substation transformers was their workforce. Then there’s flat demand growth, fossil fuel plant retirements, distributed generation, renewable standards, security, and the list goes on.
DistribuTECH exhibitors offered solutions for a lot of the problems that ail the industry. I was particularly impressed by a new generation of substation transformers that have armor plating and shatter resistant bushings. The same vendor can provide aftermarket plating for existing transformers. I did not hear a perfect answer for our diminishing workforce, with 25-30 years of hard earned experience going out the door with each retiree. However, innovations such as smart meters, remote monitoring and testing of dielectric filled equipment, intelligent line monitoring with communicating sensors and outage management software solutions, all available at DistribuTECH, can make the workforce more productive and focused on critical tasks that require field deployment for solution.
Many exhibitors offered software, analytic and communication packages that can help integrate and leverage distributed energy resources, energy storage and microgrids to provide peak shaving, load leveling and demand management. This can provide utilities greater control over the timing of new investment in transmission, distribution and generation infrastructure, potentially avoiding customer cost increases, while maintaining or improving the quality of service provided.
DistribuTECH presenters and exhibiters offered so many possibilities for making our smart grid even smarter and better able to solve the power industry’s challenges. I received the needed technology shot in the arm that will assist me in bringing you the best and latest intel. We learned at the conference that we are on a technology and change journey without end. I look forward to working with Paul to give you mile markers along the way.