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It’s DTECH Time! What to expect in 2020

With so much new and exciting in the energy delivery space, DTECH is a must-attend for anyone who works with energy on the distribution side of the grid. Here’s a quick look at what to expect in San Antonio.

At DISTRIBUTECH International, we strive to give attendees a good look at the future of energy – where the industry is headed and what could challenge operations in the future. We have two compelling keynote speakers that will do just that.

Paula Gold-Williams

Paula Gold-Williams, President and CEO of CPS Energy will discuss why she coined the term ‘People First’ at CPS Energy and talk about how the utility is evolving its efforts to create and deliver value to its customers, community, and employees into a new age of energy solutions. 

Sophie Hackford, futurist, will give a talk on the new technologies that are defining the new economy today. She’s an accomplished speaker who travels the world wowing audiences with her insight. This is a talk you surely won’t want to miss.

Sophie Hackford

New for 2020

We’ve kept a lot of our DISTRIBUTECH program the same, but we’ve added a few elements to the event that we think make it stronger and more engaging for our visitors. In addition to our high-level keynote speakers, we’ve found four luminaries who will enlighten audiences through 30-minute talks in our Knowledge Hubs throughout the event.

Julia Hamm, President and CEO of the Smart Electric Power Alliance will focus on decarbonization of the power sector in her talk on Tuesday morning in the Decarbonizing the Grid Hub. Related: Decarbonization will happen, it’s just a matter of time

Kelly Speakes-Backman, President and CEO of the Energy Storage Association will give a talk about why energy storage is the central hub to a clean energy ecosystem in her talk on Tuesday morning in the Innovating and Emerging Technologies Hub. Related: Why energy storage is an essential ingredient in grid modernization

Susan Russo, President and CEO of Pecan Street Project will explain why we need a “brain” that will bring together smart transportation and smart infrastructure into the smart city ecosystem. She’ll be speaking in the e-Mobility and Smart Cities Hub on Tuesday afternoon. Related: Forget DER aggregators, grid-edge intelligence will be the hallmark of the future

Kevin O’Donovan

Technology evangelist, Kevin O’Donovan, is the luminary speaker for the Digitalizing the Grid Knowledge Hub. O’Donovan says that he bridges the gap between the hype and the reality related to the energy transition.

We’re also bringing a documentary to DISTRIBUTECH! We’ll be screening “Thirst for Power” during one of our mega-sessions on Wednesday. This is the first time that we’ve shown a film at the event and we’re excited to see if it interests our attendees as much as it interests us. The documentary, which was shot on location across France, California, and Texas, explores the history of civilization’s quest to procure abundant water and energy — from ancient Roman aqueducts in Europe, to modern America’s vast hydroelectric infrastructure. The film explores our dependence on water for energy, as well as vulnerabilities in our current systems.

Following the film will be a panel discussion with Michael Webber, producer, Paula Gold-Williams, CEO of CPS Energy, Sharelynn Moore, SVP of Itron and Kimberly Britton, CEO of EPIcenter.  If the screening isn’t up your alley, DTECH offers four other mega-sessions covering new distribution grid models, the electrification of transportation, communications networks and how digital solutions are enabling a decarbonized grid. See them all here.  

We are delighted to announce that we’ve added even more startups to DISTRIBUTECH 2020. At last year’s event, we launched Initiate! our first ever exhibit space for a select few start-ups. The program was so popular that we’ve expanded it to 21 innovative, young companies who will pitch to a panel of judges that will ultimately decide the winner.

Mainstream utility industry topics that you know and love

We can’t go so far as saying that 2019 was the year of the disaster, but for the electric utility industry, there was a lot of focus on natural disasters like wildfires (and their horrible repercussions) over the course of the year. For the energy industry, natural disasters present challenges not just in outage management, but also in customer communications. Today, customers want to know exactly when their power is going to be restored and utilities are working on technologies that help them with those important customer communications.

Here’s what we have in store for incident response (including cybersecurity) and customer communications at #DTECH2020.

Monday 1/27/20

Tuesday-Thursday, 1/28-1/30, four sessions each in each of the following tracks

  • Customer Strategies and Technologies Track features sessions on understanding the values and behaviors of residential energy consumers; what it means to be a digital utility; consumer engagement best practices; and technology and data-driven customer service.
  • Cybersecurity and Incident Response Track features sessions on live cybersecurity exercises; NERC CIP and beyond; coordinating cross-sector restoration in disasters; and taking a collaborative approach to protect critical infrastructure from cyberthreats.

Planning and Creating the Grid of the Future at #DTECH19

While natural disasters and increasing consumer-demands represent outside forces pushing utilities to modernize, internal pressures are also forcing utilities to evolve. Grid modernization activities that utilities are engaged with include how to improve distribution automation, finding the best use case and implementation of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), overall asset management activities, data analytics and enterprise grid management.

Here’s what we have in store for grid modernization at #DTECH2020.

Monday 1/27/20

Tuesday-Thursday, 1/28-1/30, four sessions each in each of the following tracks

  • Asset Management featuring sessions on next-gen reliability; innovative approached to asset management; geospatial applications to improve asset management; and real-world case studies.
  • Data Analytics featuring sessions on business transformation through data analytics; advanced analytics; innovative uses of modeling tools; and how to leverage disparate data.
  • Distribution Automation that looks at sensors, VVO and synchrophasors; underground distribution line sensors; DER integration; and even workforce challenges to automation deployment.
  • Plus a Knowledge hub on digitalizing the grid with 20 sessions covering everything from integrated vegetation management, digital transformation with intelligent sensors, analytics and so much more.

Getting greener with renewable energy and energy storage

As if keeping the lights on, the power cheap, and the assets resilient wasn’t enough, the other demand that utilities are facing is how to get carbon emissions out of their energy systems. That’s why we’ve launched a full solar + storage experience at #DTECH2020, where for the first time we’ll have solar developers explaining how to build large-scale solar projects in a co-located event. Here’s what else we’ll be offering for utilities looking to decarbonize and use more renewables and distributed energy resources in their operations.

Let’s not forget energy storage, which was our most-attended track in 2019. We’re offering a Utility University course on Planning for Integration of Distributed Generation, Energy Storage and Microgrids in Smart Distribution Systems plus an entire energy storage track with sessions covering how to improve reliability for remote communities and rural areas with battery energy storage systems; lessons from energy storage deployments in New York and California; plus a session that explores choosing the right behind-the-meter storage delivery model.

Niche Networking @ DTECH After Dark

Wednesday, January 29 | 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
We are excited to introduce DTECH After Dark, aka our NEW and improved networking party…or should we say parties? On Wednesday after the exhibit hall closes, you get the opportunity to experience five different networking parties at our hubs that will each have their own unique experience. Here’s what we’re offering:

  • GRAFFITTI WALL / DJ BOOTH# 417 (e-Mobility and Smart Cities)
  • RELAXATION BOOTH# 1567 (Innovative and Emerging Technologies)
  • MARIACHI + MARGS BOOTH# 3563 (Digitalizing the Grid)
  • WONKA BOOTH# 1010 (Decarbonizing the Grid)
  • CYBEER BOOTH# 4439 (Expanding the Grid)   

If you are in the energy delivery business, DISTRIBUTECH has education and networking for you that will help you improve how you do your job today and give you insights into what’s coming in the future. See you there!

(Jennifer Runyon is content director for POWERGRID International, Renewable Energy World and DISTRIBUTECH International).