A Quantum Leap Into The World Of The Smart Grid - Utilities Field Service 2008

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Utilities Field Service 2008 welcomed senior level executives from gas, electric and water utilities to New Orleans on May 28-30 to discuss issues crucial to the utilities landscape, specifically, data integration, storm response and reliability, knowledge management and transmission and siting. Thought leaders from gas, electric and water utilities offered forward thinking insights and best practices for attendees to take back to their office and implement immediately.

a great industry leader on smart grid

In its fourth year, Utilities Field Service took a quantum leap into the world of the Smart Grid, inviting a new breed of speakers and delegates to share their experience and vision of an advanced electric system.

Responding to the public call for alternative power options, John Baker, Chief Strategy Officer, shared Austin Energy's research initiatives for examining the environmental impacts associated with the generation of electric power. Mr Baker's findings brought to light the much needed partnership between companies and government to fine-tune policy so that it could provide incentives as well as revenue streams to facilitate the upgrade of the electrical grid. As one participate wrote, Baker provided a "good 'future forward' look at aspects utilities will need to consider in development of Smart Grid functionality."

"Utilities Field Service was a great environment to stay abreast of a rapidly evolving topic critical to the future of the electric utility industry," observed Mr Baker.

Developing on the content of Smart Grid and reviewed by one attendee as "a great industry leader on smart grid," Paul De Martini, Vice President of Edison Smart Connect, gave an insightful presentation on SoCal Edison's implementation of Smart Metering, a move towards creating a cleaner and smarter energy future. Edison Smart Connect is deploying an advanced meter that identifies consumption in detail and communicates that information via home area networks, providing customers with near real-time energy use and cost information to enable energy conservation. Mr De Martini argued that smart metering could simplify utility service experience while facilitating the home energy ecosystem. He explained that it also offers best practices for navigating the regulatory process, overseeing financial and program development, and executing technology testing.

Other industry leaders included Tom Standish, Senior Vice President and Group President of Regulated Operations at CenterPoint Energy and Tony Hurley, Director of Entity Data at First Energy. Mr Standish presented a detailed forecast of future challenges facing the grid, exploring complex grid landscape as it applies to major capital projects, intelligent grid integration and changing customer habits resulting from green legislation. Mr Hurley recommended a constructive model to perform effective asset management. He shared his experience heading up the management group and provided expert advice on observing and managing a large company's asset health.

The Workforce Summit took place on Wednesday, May 28 with focus on current company initiatives to overcome the challenges of knowledge management and recruitment that vex most utility executives today. Understanding that traditional methods of recruitment need to be supplemented given the rapidly approaching retirement of many utility workers, Lorraine Webb, Vice President of Organizational Development at Philadelphia Gas Works, shared some tricks that she and her team had created and implemented to entice and retain some of the best talent in the north-east region.

Utilities Field Service 2008 has proven to be a valuable resource for executives in the field and will continue its tradition in 2009, building on the momentum from this year's Smart Grid explosion. While Workforce Management will remain a key issue, the program will also explore other expertise areas and indeed other industries to apply solutions as baby boomers steadily hit retirement age.

For more information, please contact Mary Gilliver

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