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Power Industry to Connect in Chicago

Feb. 26, 2020
More than 14,000 professionals will come together this April for networking, education and immersive experiences at the 2020 IEEE PES T&D Conference and Exposition.

Explore all that Chicago has to offer, while immersing yourself in a world of technology and education at the 2020 IEEE PES T&D Conference April 20-23, 2020, in Chicago. Every third show, the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) rotates to the “Windy City” for a week of networking, technical tours, a trade show and full conference.

“Chicago has always been one of our most attended locations for the T&D Conference,” said Carl L. Segneri, vice president, business development for M.J. Electric, and IEEE PES North America, T&D Director. “The show planning is ahead of schedule, and we have some exciting new features and opportunities.”

The theme of the show — Powering Forward — describes the role of IEEE PES to bring together the stakeholders who will shape the years to come.

“The electric industry’s pace of change increases every year,” Segneri said. “The move to distributed generation, adoption of smart cities and smart grids as well as the continued importance to safely and efficiently maintain and operate the grid that we have make this an exciting time to be in our industry,” Segneri said. “The T&D Conference maintains its focus on the core of our industry, the equipment — but we have added more technical topics and vendors who are helping shape the strategies for the grid of the future.”

Over the last decade, the event has become larger in terms of booths and booth space and more diverse, said Saifur Rahman, Ph.D., past president of the IEEE PES and a Joseph Loring professor and director of the VT Advanced Research Institute.

“IEEE T&D Conference brings in almost 14,000 people every two years to a major city in the United States,” Rahman said. “A vast majority of them are engineers who work in different parts of the industry. The T&D show provides them a platform to see who is doing what and how. This gives the power industry professionals an opportunity to see different ways a problem can be tackled.”

Rahman said Chicago is well suited as the location of the 2020 event due to its easy accessibility from various parts of the United States, Canada and other parts of the world.

“We have an availability of high-quality convention space, and we also have a very supportive host utility, ComEd, which is helping to arrange the logistics of a large event like the T&D Show.”

Focus on Education

By attending the 2020 IEEE PES T&D Conference and Exposition, attendees can learn from world experts while also earning professional development hours or continuing education units. The conference features a blend of poster presentations, forums, panel discussions, super sessions and tutorials.

“The IEEE T&D Conference provides an opportunity for engineers, practitioners and academics to bring their best practices, research results and futuristic tools to the attention of power engineers in the technical conference part of the T&D Conference,” Rahman said.

Over the course of three days, attendees can learn about everything from the future of the grid to artificial intelligence. The opening session will kick off with a presentation and discussion from ClimateMusic Project group, who will share its perspective on the issue of climate change.

“We are excited to have the prestigious Christiana Figueres who will share her perspective as a world renowned climate change leader with  international experience in high level national and international policy and multilateral negotiations,” Segneri said. “Her many accomplishments include her tenure as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that culminated in the historic Paris Agreement in 2015.”

Discovering New Technology

In addition to the technical program with paper and panel sessions, the event also features a large-scale Expo showing equipment, software and monitoring and control display representing distribution, transmission and generation areas of the electric power industry, Rahman said.

“As an academic working on research projects to explore solutions to the issues the power industry will face in the  future, I always enjoy hardware displays which show the state-of-the-art equipment ready to enter the market,” said Rahman, who urges the conference attendees to find the time to walk the show floor as much as possible. “I always ask the engineers why they build something the way they did it.”

The T&D Conference has the largest collection of exhibitors covering the broad range of transmission, distribution, substation, smart grid, distributed generation, etc., Segneri said.

“Our exhibit floor boasts more than 900 of the top manufacturers, service providers, entrepreneurs in the industry,” Segneri said. “Our exhibitors often use the T&D Conference to launch their latest and greatest products and innovations.”

For example, some of the vendors can demonstrate their products on the “Innovation Stage” at the event.

“At a conference, you can get a lot of information speaking with the vendors who have products or services that interest you or address one or more challenges you are facing,” Segneri said. “The Innovation Stage demonstrations provide a great forum for our exhibitors to address a larger audience to discuss topics that are common and important to our attendees. They add energy to the show floor as many people can gather to jointly learn about the unique and creative solutions our vendors bring to the industry.”

One of the new features at the 2020 IEEE PES T&D Conference and Exposition is the Smart Cities Pavilion, which will highlight innovation in the industry. IEEE PES has played a lead role in organizing conferences, workshops and awareness building events for several years in the smart city space.

“PES is the lead IEEE society which helps to organize the annual IEEE Smart Cities Conference globally,” Rahman said. “These are technical conferences with papers, panels and posters. But we have not had a chance to display the hardware and software solutions which make the smart city work the way it is supposed to. Due to the layout of our T&D Conference, which offers a large exhibition space, there is now an opportunity to highlight such hardware and software solutions selected from the distribution part of our industry.”

Taking a Technical Tour

In addition to attending the expo and learning about new techniques and best practices at the conference, registrants can also sign up for a technical tour for an immersive experience. IEEE PES has offered technical tours for its T&D conference dating back to the late 1980s, but in recent years, the organizing committee has been able to increase the number and selection of tours, which often sell out.

“We select the tours to offer our guests the opportunity to see some great technical sites as well as local venues of interest,” Segneri said. “The tours are designed to last for no more than a half a day to give attendees enough time to attend the T&D conference technical program events and spend as much time as possible on the exhibit floor.”

For 2020, attendees can select from a wide variety of technical tours. For example, they can visit local manufacturers like S&C and G&W and experience many local attractions like the Aquarium Rooftop Solar and the Community of the Future. Because Chicago is famous for its role in architecture, IEEE PES is offering an architectural tour. Local utility ComEd is also providing a tour of its technical center, which always sells quickly, Segneri said.

Rahman, whose current research is on smart buildings and building energy efficiency, said for the technical tours, he is interested to learn more about advanced sensor technologies, which can monitor and control various environmental parameters in buildings.

“With the concern about indoor air quality and health issues in climate-controlled buildings, it is very important to provide an environment-friendly and healthy indoor work environment,” Rahman said.

By registering for the IEEE PES T&D Conference and Exposition, professionals can build new connections and expand their knowledge, Segneri said. He said if they can only go to one electric utility conference, then the IEEE PES T&D Conference is the best place to go.

“I am not aware of any other conference that has a better combination of great exhibit floor and industry leading technical program,” Segneri said. “Our Chicago Local Organizing Committee has been working hard for one-and-a-half years to make sure you have an enjoyable, technically stimulating and memorable time at T&D 2020. We can’t wait to see you in Chicago this April.”

Editor’s Note: The IEEE PES is offering a Utility Saver Package discount, which provides full conference registration for 10 attendees for $1,000. Learn more at

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