To be honest, I’ve been in the power media business since 1996 and I had never heard of the Innovative Smart Grid Technologies (ISGT) event either, which is a shame. For background, this is the 10th year for the conference produced by IEEE and will take place on Feb. 17 to 20 in Washington, D.C.
For me, there are three main drivers for attending an industry event. First off, what is the quality of the content and is it unique from the myriad other event programs? What is the caliber of presenters/speakers? Finally, what is the make-up of the attendees in the room?
To find out more about ISGT, I’ve done some research, sat in on some of the planning calls for the event, and spoke three two key leaders for the event. Based on this experience, I’m confident this is going to be a great investment of your precious time and event budgets. I was lucky enough to get interviews with Dr. Saifur Rahman, president of the IEEE Power and Energy Society (IEEE PES) and Joseph R. Loring, professor of electrical engineering at Virginia Tech and Dr. Ron Melton, team lead for systems within the Power System Research group at Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) to dive deeper and see if my three criteria are met.
Spotlight on Content
To me, content is the number one critical success factor for an event. ISGT is packed full with plenary sessions, panels, poster sessions and software and demo sessions. There is one plenary session each day to set the stage:
Day 1: Past and Future Trends in Smart Grid
Day 2: Technology Solutions for Evolving Energy Industry
Day 3: Market and Policy Considerations in Facilitating Innovation and Enabling a Flexible and Resilient Grid
These topics are excellent and timely, but the quality of the presenters is terrific. Some examples include Rick Riley, senior vice president, distribution operations, Entergy; Edmund Schweitzer, president and chairman, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories; and Luis Reyes, CEO of Kit Carson Electric Coop in Taos, New Mexico, to name just three of the 13 panelists.
The panel sessions cover the key challenges the industry is facing, think of transactive energy and blockchain, data analytics and AI, energy storage valuation and many more. One panel session I have to see provides an update on the Advanced Distribution Management Systems Research and Development project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. We are going to hear an update on five projects from this research program, but the industry should pay special attention to these two:
- The GridAPPS-D™, an open platform for the development of advanced applications for distribution system management and control. Having PNNL and utilities actively working together on an open-source solution to drive down the five- to six-time integration cost of an ADMS might be a game changer for the industry.
- Advanced optimization and control strategies for distribution management with large-scale integration of distributed energy resources. This research is addressing the operational issues the grid is currently facing.
And finally, we have the poster sessions and demos, an amazing opportunity to have those intimate and deep conversations with subject matter experts that you can’t get at other events.
So far, my first two boxes are checked, so now what about the audience? This event is what I deem the Goldilocks-sized conference. ISGT is expecting 400 to 600 attendees. It's not too small where you end up talking to the same people every day, but it's also not so large that you can’t even find the person you are looking to connect with. In addition, there will be a terrific mix of attendees. It’s really the crossroads where utilities, policymakers, research and technology companies intersect.