Good morning from the (seemingly) always sunny city of San Diego, the site of this year's DistribuTECH conference. Welcome to those of you who made it out to the show, and for those who couldn't make it, don't worry — we'll keep you updated.
Throughout the week, Utility Dive will be reporting back from the show floor on all things smart grid — the biggest announcements from vendors, the juiciest quotes from thought leaders, and the trends that are shaping the grid of tomorrow. Each day, we'll deliver exclusive coverage of the latest and most important stories coming out of the show straight to your email inbox.
If you're interested staying up-to-date on the conference in real time, you can follow Utility Dive's editors on Twitter at @davide_savenije and @GavinBade. And if you're here in San Diego and want share your perspective on the conference so far, please don't hesitate to reach out.
Without further ado, let's take a look at what's coming up over the next few days, followed by a list of the biggest announcements coming out of the show.
What to watch: Tuesday, Feb. 3
The exhibit floor: The exhibit floor opens on Tuesday morning, with nearly 500 exhibitors flocking to the conference to show off the latest developments in smart grid technology. For the full list of exhibitors at the show, click here.
The keynote addresses: Before the show floor opens at 11 a.m. PST, two California utility executives will take the podium to deliver keynote addresses. Jeffrey Martin, CEO of Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric utility, will be speaking, as will Ted Craver, CEO and chairman of Edison International, the utility holding company that owns Southern California Edison. You can watch out for coverage of their speeches in Wednesday's edition of Utility Dive.
The conference sessions: After lunch, the first conference sessions will begin at 1 p.m. PST, with utilities, vendors, and other thought leaders sharing perspectives on critical issues facing the grid. For the full listing of conference sessions at DistribuTECH 2015, click here.
At a glance, the most interesting session may be "Session 425: Impacts of Integrating Large-scale Renewable Resources Beyond the Meter." Executives from California utilities San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and Sacramento Municipal Utility District will share their experiences dealing with high penetrations of distributed renewables and the potential solutions that can help mitigate the impact on the distribution system. Utilities across the nation are seeing a surge in rooftop solar installations, creating immense financial and operational challenges. Those who want to get ahead of the curve will look to California and Hawaii, where the trend is at a more advanced stage than in the rest of the country.
What to watch: Wednesday, Feb. 4
The breakfast roundtables: Wednesday kicks off bright and early with the breakfast roundtables, which are exactly what they sound like — you eat breakfast at a round table. OK, admittedly there's a little more to it — each roundtable will focus on a certain topic area, and aims to foster networking and the sharing of best practices between executives. For the full listing of the breakfast roundtables at DistribuTECH 2015, click here.
While Utility Dive won't be there — we'll be busy delivering news and analysis to your inbox — we're keeping one eye on the Big Data & Analytics roundtable. Executives from utility PSE&G and vendors Itron, IBM, GE, Decision Point Global, and T Systems North America will foster discussion around the flood of smart grid data and how utilities are dealing with it. It may seem like a challenge, but there are big opportunities for utilities who can harness terabytes of data to drive efficiencies and unlock new products and services.
The mega sessions: We're not entirely sure there's a big difference between the regular conference sessions and the mega sessions. Our best guess? The mega sessions are... well, bigger.
Jokes aside, the mega sessions do look very interesting. For the full listing of mega sessions at this year's DistribuTECH, click here.
Two mega sessions to look for are Mega Session 452: Future of the Grid and Mega Session 453: Reforming the Energy Vision in New York. The first session will feature a discussion about the grid of the future between a varied group of stakeholders, from a Hawaii PUC commissioner to a Department of Energy advisor and a California ISO executive to a senior VP at CenterPoint Energy. The second session will focus exclusively on the state of New York, where regulators are introducing radical reforms into the electricity market, otherwise known as the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV). The panelists are key stakeholders, including the CEO of New York ISO and the president of National Grid New York. If you're at the show, these mega sessions both seem well worth attending.
The networking party: Right as the show floor closes on Wednesday, the party begins. This is a great opportunity for executives attending the show to meet new people, have a few drinks, and ultimately embarrass themselves. If you're at the show, you can come find Utility Dive's editors at the bar.
What to watch: Thursday, Feb. 5
The end of the show: Thursday is officially still DistribuTECH, although the show floor will only be open for four hours. My prediction is that the vast majority of attendees will show up at the show with their bags already packed. Many will almost certainly leave before the the exhibit floor closes at 2:00 pm.
But that doesn't mean that nothing's happening Thursday. It's the perfect time to tour the show floor if you didn't have time to do so earlier. It's also the perfect time to find that person you wanted to talk to and have a quiet sit-down. And it's the perfect time to unsheath your iPad and catch up on Utility Dive's coverage of the show.
So, while there's nothing major planned on the agenda, Thursday is the perfect opportunity to make something happen.
The long list of announcements
Many smart grid technology vendors look to DistribuTECH to leave their mark, and this year is no different. The biggest players in the space tend to launch new products at the show — or at least start marketing them in earnest.
Here are some of the biggest announcements coming out Tuesday. We'll update you with any more important announcements tomorrow.
Editor's note: Far be it from me to call this list comprehensive, as it's inevitable that we missed something. So if you have an important announcement at DistribuTECH, but it's not on this list, shoot me an email at [email protected]
- Duke Energy is unveiling the second phase of its grid interoperability project, called the "Coalition of the Willing." Duke announced it will build a microgrid in its North Carolina test lab, and that the number of partners has grown from six to 25. Greentech Media has some great coverage of the project here.
- PowerGrid International announced the winners of the publication's electric utility projects of the year — Baltimore Gas & Electric won the 2015 Smart Grid Project of the Year award, ComEd won the Customer Engagement Project of the Year, NV Energy won the Demand Response/Energy Efficiency Project of the Year, and PSE&G won the Renewable Grid Integration Project of the Year category.
- Electric Light & Power presented awards to the winners of the publication's executives and electric utility of the year — Vineland Municipal Electric Utilities Director Joseph A. Isabella won the Small Utility CEO of the Year, Edison International CEO Ted Craver won the Large Utility CEO of the Year, Dominion won the Utility of the Year.
- Schneider Electric is launching Wiser Air, a Wi-Fi connected thermostat and demand response management system for residential and small commercial customers.
- Bidgely will be introducing new products to its HomeBeat line, including a new mobile app for energy usage, a real-time energy monitor and HomeBeat Agent, which helps fix high bill disputes.
- Nest Labs has released the results of three studies showing that the company's Learning Thermostat saves 10-12% on customer heating bills and 15% on cooling bills.
- Tollgrade Communications is releasing its Predictive Grid quarterly report analyzing power outages on DTE Energy's network, showing how many can be prevented.
- Black and Veatch is releasing its Strategic Directions: Smart Utility report for 2015, showing that automation and analytics are changing the way utilities do business.
- Silver Spring Networks will be showcasing the fifth generation of its critical infrastructure networking platform, Gen5, which was released last week. Silver Spring is also announcing new utility customers, new third-party software partners, and two new applications for its SilverLink Sensor Network.
- Sensus is launching VantagePoint, a intelligent lighting control system for public service providers.
- iFactor is launching iShare, a power outage data publishing application for the company's EnergySuite customer communications platform.
- National Instruments is announcing a new phasor measurement unit hardware platform for the company's Grid Automation System.
- Elster is launching Connexo, the next generation of its smart grid software suite.