Parting View of the 2016 IEEE PES T&D Expo

May 9, 2016
I have been attending these conferences since the 1980s and it would be reasonable to expect each conference to be pretty much the same each time. WRONG - they have all been different and each has better than the last.

Wasn’t Big D a hoot? Texans are known for their hospitality, and this was no exception. I don’t think I ever met anyone who wasn’t happy to see me, and everyone was helpful – must be something in the water. Even when I broke the hotel room safe, and security had to come to my room late one night to get my laptop out of it, the guy was so nice. It almost made me want to break it again.

Getting back to the subject - I have been anticipating the 2016 IEEE PES T&D Expo since we closed the Chicago Expo in 2014 and Dallas lived up to all those expectations. It’s hard to believe this Expo is in the history books now; where did the time go? As that expression goes, “time flies when you’re having fun.”  It seemed like I got off the plane and a few hours later I was getting back on it. It could not have been possible that four days passed between those two events!

What really amazes me is how the PES folks continue to top themselves each time. I have been attending these conferences since the 1980s and it would be reasonable to expect each conference to be pretty much the same each time. WRONG - they have all been different and each has better than the last. Time for full disclosure – I’m biased. I am a past chairman of the PES T&D Committee. I have worked with the Organizing Committee and seen this event from both sides, but seriously, everyone tries to come up with new themes and topics. It also helps that the technology changes dramatically in the two-year period between conferences. Example - how many drone exhibits did you see at the 2014 expo? I found at least a dozen in Dallas. This technology is changing the industry, and the pioneers were in Dallas to share their experience wth anyone asking.

The conference opened at the AT&T stadium Monday evening. There was a marching band, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, pyrotechnics, lots of food, challenging games of skill on the sidelines, and most of all the great fellowship with old and new friends. The next three days were all business – well mostly. There is always time for fun like when I met the artist drawing caricatures or found the Ferrari on the exhibition floor, not to mention the baristas making espresso to order (you can get some interesting combinations if you are willing to be creative).

Of course there were also hundreds of vendors showing the latest technical toys for the industry. There were thousands of utility professionals walking around inspecting all the wares the vendors brought. This was their chance to ask questions they could not ask at home. It seems we are afraid to ask stupid questions in the office, but here no one knows us, so we have the freedom to ask anything. You might say it is the chance to kick the tires without getting in trouble – it’s our version of “What happens at Expo stays at Expo!”

Anyone who knows me knows I love to punch a button to see what will happen. At the Expo, I was able to punch a button that simulated a fault that dropped many megawatts without getting into trouble because of some pesky rule. I hope everyone took advantage of these types of opportunities too. If you didn’t, plan to come to Denver in 2018 when the next T&D Expo takes place. Consider it your second chance to play “what if.” I can’t wait to see what the Organizing Committee does in Denver, but I know, hard as it sounds, they will top 2016!

About the Author

Gene Wolf

Gene Wolf has been designing and building substations and other high technology facilities for over 32 years. He received his BSEE from Wichita State University. He received his MSEE from New Mexico State University. He is a registered professional engineer in the states of California and New Mexico. He started his career as a substation engineer for Kansas Gas and Electric, retired as the Principal Engineer of Stations for Public Service Company of New Mexico recently, and founded Lone Wolf Engineering, LLC an engineering consulting company.  

Gene is widely recognized as a technical leader in the electric power industry. Gene is a fellow of the IEEE. He is the former Chairman of the IEEE PES T&D Committee. He has held the position of the Chairman of the HVDC & FACTS Subcommittee and membership in many T&D working groups. Gene is also active in renewable energy. He sponsored the formation of the “Integration of Renewable Energy into the Transmission & Distribution Grids” subcommittee and the “Intelligent Grid Transmission and Distribution” subcommittee within the Transmission and Distribution committee.

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