high voltage 01The state of the power industry is changing rapidly, and it can be difficult to keep up with everything. But it’s more important than ever to understand the biggest issues affecting the industry, which is why I’m excited about the 25th annual DistribuTECH conference coming up in San Diego Feb. 3-5.

DistribuTECH is the largest transmission and distribution conference in the world; it connects utility industry leaders and technology enthusiasts worldwide. It’s the place to network with other utility professionals and share knowledge, expertise and ideas for solutions to the industry’s power delivery challenges.

The conference sessions are always are always a favorite of mine, as it’s a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of issues affecting the power industry and to share our knowledge on the topic. My team and I are excited to be delivering key presentations as part of five tracks during the conference:

Smart Grid Operations Solutions Track

Paul Pansing and Andrew Wedekind will present “Devastation to Restoration: 14-Foot Wave Damage Leads to Improved Reliability” at the "Strategies for Improving Distribution Resiliency" session at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 3.

Paul and Andrew will join Lauren Thomas from PSE&G for a presentation on the importance of preparing for major storms, staging for rapid restoration after storms and improving communications to customers during restoration, which are all part of improving the resiliency of the distribution system.

Demand Response Track

Meghan Calabro is partnering with Ed Hedges and Mark Hopkins from Kansas City Power & Light and Andrew Dicker from The Structure Group to present “KCP&L’s Smart Grid Demonstration Project’s Hierarchical Demand Response Management Implementation Leveraging Multiple DR Messaging Standards” as part of the "Demand Response Communications Innovations" event at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 3.

Meghan’s session will include discussions on innovations in demand response communications that leverage national standards, including OpenADR and Zigbee, plus standard-setting activities.

Smart Distribution Management Track

Meaghan Calabro is also part of the “KCP&L Smart Grid Demonstration Project: Gaps Identified in Current Smart Distribution Technologies Requiring Evolution to Support Emerging Functionality.” She joins Ed Hedges and Steve Goeckeler from KCP&L and Satyaveer from The Structure Group as part of the “AMI, OMS and IT panel” on Tuesday, Feb. 3 at 3:00 p.m.

In this presentation, they’ll cover how application integration is imperative for successful smart grid implementation and other IT integration challenges.

Renewables, Transmission and Policy Track

Linda Lynch will present “FERC-approved Definition of BES and its Impact to Your Organization” as part of the "Key Grid Policy Evolution for Grid Reliability" event at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 3.

In Linda’s session, she’ll cover the current NERC Bulk Electric System (BES) Core Definition, which provides a continent-wide uniform process for identifying BES assets that are subject to the NERC Reliability Standards requirements. She’ll also discuss the criteria for inclusion or exclusion and the recommended steps for the self-determination process.

Substation Integration and Automation Track

Mitchell Lowery will present “Resolving the Challenges of Multiple Vendor 61850 Implementations” in the session "Addressing IEC 61850 Interoperability – Multivendor Challenges, Deployment Lessons and Standards-based Solutions" at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 4.

During Mitchell’s session, he and Eric Schroeder from Cross Texas Transmission will discuss interoperability problems utilities face when using IEC 61850 within substation environments and the approach utilities and international organizations take to deal with these issues.

Also part of this track, Meghan Calabro returns for her second presentation with Mark Hopkins and Ed Hedges from Kansas City Power & Light and Andrew Dicker from The Structure Group for “KCP&L’s Experiences with IEC 61850 GOOSE Messaging in a Smart Distribution Substation Implementation” as part of the "IEC 61850 Success Stories and Other Lessons from the Front Lines" session at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5.

Their presentation will focus on how a growing number of North American utilities, their consultants and automation partners have been testing and piloting IEC 61850 and have also implemented projects including retrofits of large existing substations.

Customer Strategies and Technologies Track

And finally, I’m excited to moderate a panel discussion, “Transactive Energy: A Customer Perspective,”, at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 4.

I’ll oversee the discussion with Jeff Gooding, Southern California Edison; Thomas Bialek, San Diego Gas & Electric; and Tony Tewelis, Arizona Public Service, on how transactive energy — the convergence of the legacy T&D system with DER, DR and storage — affects our existing systems from a planning, design and operational perspective, and where the opportunities are for customer engagement. The session will also address what new products and services can be developed for the process and what challenges states have encountered when implementing these transactive energy systems.

This is only a small sampling of what’s in store for this year’s DistribuTECH event. You can view complete details and a full schedule of events here. You can also keep up with the action following @DistribuTECH on Twitter and using hashtag #DTECH2015! And if you’re on the exhibit floor, be sure to stop by booth #4114 and say hi.

Mike Beehler is a vice president in Burns & McDonnell’s Transmission & Distribution Group. He has extensive experience leading large-scale transmission projects throughout the U.S. Before joining Burns & McDonnell, he spent 14 years with an investor-owned electric utility. You can find and connect with Mike on LinkedIn.

As a vice president for Burns & McDonnell, Mike’s top priority is helping electric and gas transmission and distribution clients take on complex projects. His team provides strong, smart and sustainable solutions in areas including critical infrastructure, the smart grid, smart cities and emerging technologies.