In an interview with Professor Satish J. Ranade, New Mexico State University, IEEE T&D Conference Technical Program Chairman; Stu Lewis, IEEE T&D Update Newsletter Editor, asked questions to learn about the significance and highlights of the 2006 technical program. Click on the headline to read Professor Ranade’s remarks.
SL: The IEEE T&D Show and conference has been in existence since the 1970s . Is there anything notable about this year’s show and conference?
SR: This year there are about 200 first time exhibitors.
SL: Who are these 200 new exhibitors?
SR: The question is, are we starting to see innovation and new products? Are we now seeing the European, East European and Asian vendors who have not previously exhibited here because some of the overseas technology and manufacturing has gotten to a point where they are able to compete? I think this a very interesting aspect; one which we will have to review during the actual show.
SL: Comparing the technical programs of past years with those of this year, do you see any differences?
SR: This is an IEEE conference and so 90% of the technical programming is done under the IEEE/PES guidelines in which panel subjects or technical papers are proposed and peer reviewed. So the core program remains the same. But just are we did at the last T&D Show, we have continued the trend to identify hot topics. We identify leaders who can expertly address those hot topics and they are putting on what we are calling Super Sessions. At this show we have Super Sessions and we also have Special Interest Sessions. We’re trying to do our best to bring the leaders in the field to organize these sessions by building flexibility into the process. It is a great way to get current thinking to the forefront.
SL: What are some of the Super Sessions and Special Interest Sessions included this year?
SR: One Special Interest Session that should be of great interest is how vendors and utilities are coping with the very big jump in raw material prices. You might have a construction project on the the drawing board but the prices have gone up 30% in the last 3 years. So how are people coping with this situation? A panel that includes several utilities will address this issue (Special Interest Session 1: Impact of Rising Material Costs on the Power Industry.)
Another very interesting session has to do with outsourcing. Not outsourcing offshore, but even within the utility, outsourcing to a consulting company, or to a vendor. How do you manage those projects? How well have those projects worked? (PN15: Outsourcing T&D Infrastructure Projects.)
The first Super Session will be on transmission investment from the perspective of the wires companies. How are we creating a market that will also cause people to invest in transmission? Or will the wires companies always be reactive, in which case they will always be a step behind, which is the current situation. And so we’ve got people from FERC, a public utilities commissioner, and the editor of Transmission & Distribution World. (Super Session 1: Transmission Investment – It’s Time.)
Another Special Interest Session will be on Iraqi reconstruction. Included on the panel will be a deputy minister from the Iraqi government. I understand that Iraq will send a delegation of engineers to the conference. (Special Interest Session 5: Iraq T&D Reconstruction Panel.)
In a nutshell, what we are doing different is based on our findings from two years ago that this Special Session approach works very well. So we have expanded on that quite a bit. It allows us to bring very timely topics to the table right away rather than to wait for issues to boil up through the submission process.
SL: How about technical tours?
SR: We were not able to do technical tours because of the cancellation of the show in New Orleans. Time was too short to arrange any technical tours. On some of the tours security comes into the picture and 6 months is just not enough time for planning.
SL: Please comment on the tutorials.
SR: There is a very good tutorial on reliability that will cover generation, transmission and distribution. (Tutorial: What Everyone Involved With Electric Energy Systems Should Know About Reliability.) There is a tutorial that was just added on Cyber Security (Tutorial: Cyber Security of Control Systems.) It was not in the New Orleans program, but was added a couple of months ago. This tutorial complements Super Session 4: Cyber Security of T&D Assets. There will also be a tutorial on engineering ethics for power engineers, which is now required. You have to have a couple of hours of that a year for your PE license. (Tutorial: Engineering Ethics for Today’s Power Engineers.)
SL: Any final comments?
SR: As far as the technical program is concerned, it’s the standard PES format. There are some very outstanding and timely presentations on transformers for example, along with the standard research and development topics. There is quite a bit of cutting edge material on insulators and substation automation standards. This material is technical, but it is not a rehash, it is cutting edge, so the technical sessions should be very good.