DistribuTECH 2018 Track Descriptions

Advanced Metering
Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems are one the most significant investments that electric, gas and water utilities will make. These systems now go well beyond advanced metering and can offer distribution automation and other monitoring/control functionality. Their application will impact almost all utility functions and business processes. 

This track will explore the deployment, operation and maintenance of such systems through the presentation of actual use cases, experiences and lessons-learned from industry and utility experts. Particular focus will be on the actual benefits derived including planning and deployment, system operations, outage management, theft detection and distribution operations will be explored.

Featuring sessions of special interest to:
• Utility executives
• AMI project managers and technical resources staff
• T&D operations and engineering staff
• Customer service managers and staff
• IT system planners and architects

Asset Management
Leading utilities are optimizing maintenance spend by reducing corrective and time/counter-based maintenance and increasing effectiveness of their capital investments through risk assessment, conditioned-based maintenance, and T&D asset analytics. Sessions in this track will help attendees develop an understanding of how utilities are shifting maintenance activities from reactive to proactive through the use of condition monitoring and trend evaluation. Attendees will learn how a new breed of asset managers is creating decision support methodologies that assist in repair, replacement and other maintenance decisions by obtaining additional insights into asset performance management, asset strategy and asset investment planning. They will learn how to identify critical assets, establish the likelihood of failure based on current conditions and estimate the impacts of potential failure. Attendees can connect with the world’s leading utilities and see how they are minimizing corporate exposure from preventable failures, reducing maintenance costs, utilizing assets to maximize return while capturing and retaining asset fleet-related subject matter expertise.

The Asset Management track includes  sessions of special interest to:
• Asset planning managers
• Operations and engineering managers
• Protection and automation managers
• Substation personnel and managers
• Automation systems engineers
• Distribution engineers
• Distribution operations managers
• Electrical, gas, and water distribution planners
• Maintenance engineers and supervisors
• IT system architects (including IT and OT)

Communication Solutions
Communication solutions for various applications have unique system needs, depending on whether they are for AMI, DA or transmission data acquisition and control. Solutions can vary greatly depending on the size of the geographic area that needs to be supported with cost-effective solutions. Today, the need for more communications bandwidth and reliability is increasing as new applications are being deployed to support grid operations, automation and control. Bandwidth needs vary from sending a few alerts a day to streaming synchrophaser data. With the addition of these new devices and applications, the industry must continue to advance enhanced security requirements to keep the grid safe. This track discusses communication technologies in context with the application. Sessions address business aspects, IT integration, lessons learned, standards and trends.

Featuring sessions of special interest to:

• Power engineers
• Telecom engineers
• Project managers of distribution automation/AMI/smart grid projects
• IT architects
• Budget owners of smart grid projects
• Executives interested in industry direction

Customer Strategies and Technologies
Utilities are developing technology roadmaps and leveraging smart grid investments to enable enhanced customer engagement. Customers are expecting their utilities to provide them with much more than just electrons and a monthly bill. Some are even mitigating their reliance on their electric utility by becoming self-generators. Utilities must get to know their customers and develop services to improve the customer experience while at the same time create new revenue streams to succeed. This track will provide an in-depth analysis of end-use customer smart grid technologies, services and solutions.

Featuring sessions of special interest to:

• Utility customer service personnel
• Anyone interested in meter and premise to cash business processes
• Senior management interested in raising customer satisfaction
• Regulators
• Consumer advocates
• Developers of technology targeting C&I and residential customers
• Utility marketers of C&I and residential customer program
• Developers and implementers of customer-focused smart grid initiative 

Data Analytics
Data analytics is key to enabling the grid to accommodate and keep up with the technological, customer, regulatory and societal changes that are occurring. This track will include utility best practices and new concepts that create immediate value from customer and operational analytics. It will also cover how utilities are leveraging industry standards to achieve value beyond single application ‘business silos’ to support business intelligence on an enterprise-wide basis.

Featuring sessions of special interest to:
• Asset managers
• Utility engineers
• Operations and engineering management
• System architects
• Business improvement engineers and analysts
• Project managers
• IT executives
• Business operations leaders

Defending the Grid
Utilities, like every other sector of our society, are exposed to a litany of threats to both their physical and cyber assets, as well as their financial well-being. The very nature of the electric utility business makes generating plants, lines, substations and customer connections vulnerable and easily accessible to both physical and cyberattacks. Utilities’ operational and business systems have increased exposure to malfeasance by becoming more technology dependent and accessible in cyberspace. Exposure to cyberthreats could bring expansive public distress from potential attack-related outages or raids on sensitive customer and corporate data. The ever-increasing regulatory requirements challenge utilities to meet their regulatory obligations. Security specialists and reliability focused utility technologists will find this track has information that is current and important to their cyber-related tasks.

Featuring sessions of special interest to Engineers and managers with duties encompassing:
• Securing operational and business systems and infrastructure
• Reliability of the transmission or distribution network or both
• Project planning and implementation of “smart grid” endeavors
• Communication network operation and design
• Standards development in NERC and IEEE pertaining to defending utilities from malfeasance


DER, DR and Other Non-wires Alternatives
Disruptive technologies have become a fact of life for most electric utilities. To succeed in the future, utilities must embrace rather than resist these disruptions and turn them into opportunities. The sessions in this track will look at the nontraditional trends and technologies utilities are implementing to balance the grid and reduce their need to invest in traditional transmission and distribution infrastructure technologies. In addition, it will look at the business cases, financing options and valuation of these trends and technologies.  It will include distributed energy resources (DER), such as renewable energy (like solar and wind), energy storage and demand response (DR). 

Featuring sessions of special interest to:
• Smart grid project managers and engineers
• DR/EE program managers
• Utility and independent transmission system operators
• Transmission and distribution planners
• Resource planners
• Power quality and reliability engineers
• Protection engineers
• Rate planners
• Regulatory staff
• Technology developers and investors


Distribution Automation
Successful feeder automation requires the integration of various technologies, including smart switching and protective devices, smart sensors, intelligent controls, telecommunication devices and infrastructure, along with analytical and simulation software, to facilitate real-time decisions and meet growing customer expectations.

With smart distribution technology implementations, software tools are being developed to integrate information from dissimilar feeder devices and systems and summarize the information to facilitate and enhance decisions addressing reliability, conservation and power quality.

This track focuses on technologies and equipment used for distribution feeder automation, including distribution automation, fault location and service restoration; Volt/VAR optimization; smart sensors applied in DA or FLISR applications; and challenges and successes in implementing and integrating automation

Featuring sessions of special interest to:
• Electric distribution system operators
• Electric feeder automation engineers
• Electric distribution planners
• Electric utility consultants
• T&D and automation managers

Enterprise Grid Management

This track focuses on leveraging technology, best practice business processes and centralized decision making to improve processes and enable real time decision making in power system operations. It offers a venue for the world’s utilities to share their experiences and gain new perspectives on the evolving power systems. Topics include outage and distribution management, storm response and damage assessment, centralized distribution and transmission operation, and distributed energy impacts to grid management. The emphasis of the track centers on improving grid operations through automation, monitoring, control, optimization and analytics.

Featuring sessions of special interest to:
• T&D executives, directors, managers and operators
• IT executives, directors and managers

Utilities are discovering new and innovative ways to leverage their existing geospatial technology. Such technology has matured considerably since the days when utilities used it to simply convert, distribute and copy paper maps through their digital iterations. Modern geospatial systems now form a basis for decision-making, spatial analysis, situational awareness, as well as visualizing smart grid, AMI streams and critical data from other applications.

This track examines how geospatial technology is changing utilities through better information visualization and easier interaction with customers, employees, contractors and regulators. This track explores new patterns, practices and examples of how geospatial technology has moved from digital-map generation to utility departments, organizations and even enterprise transformation.

Featuring sessions of special interest to:
• Utility executives
• Customer care professionals
• Asset managers
• Utility engineers
• Operations and engineering management
• System architects
• Business improvement engineers and analysts
• Project managers
• IT executives
• Project managers

Internet of Things/Smart Cities

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Grid of Things (GoT) are rapidly evolving into smart cities. Electric utilities/electricity providers are at the heart of this effort, providing, in many cases, the electric, communications and device infrastructures that form the core ecosystem upon which connected and interoperable devices are built. The emergence of smart cities is happening all over the world. Communities are delivering customer value by: improving, better managing and optimizing electricity and natural gas delivery; managing precious water resources; transforming transportation infrastructures; and, leveraging sensor data to improve building efficiency. In the process, utilities and their customers are becoming more sustainable, lowering their carbon footprints and exploring and finding areas where they can work together to conserve resources. The sessions in this track will look at some of the technologies and trends that will allow utilities to live in the interconnected world of smart cities that is being created through IoT and GoT.

Featuring sessions of special interest to:

Electric, gas and water operations managers
Electric, gas and water utility engineers
State and local regulators
Microgrid developers
Renewable energy developers
Commercial/industrial utility customers
Data analytics professionals
Lighting system designers and engineers

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) defines microgrids as localized grids that can disconnect from the traditional grid to operate autonomously and help mitigate grid disturbances to strengthen grid resilience. Microgrids are poised to facilitate increased reliability and resiliency, the integration of distributed energy resources (DERs), local control of energy and many other benefits as we transition to a cleaner, more distributed energy system. The sessions in this track will cover strategies for implementing microgrids, determining their value and benefits, and understanding their technical design, control and operation. Attendees will hear from a variety of presenters including utilities, regulators, industry analysts and microgrid owner/operators.

Featuring sessions of special interest to:

• Operations managers
• Utility engineers
• State and local regulators
• Microgrid developers
• Renewable energy developers
• Commercial/industrial utility customers

Mobile Solutions
Utilities are expanding the use of technology to their mobile workforce. The technology is even finding its way into project and construction management. As mobile-based software solutions, communication technologies and computing hardware platforms continue to evolve along with workforce expectations, the need to share innovative new approaches and practical experience will grow.

This track will investigate how utilities are deploying mobile solutions to improve their mobile workforce’s operational effectiveness, efficiency and safety, while helping them better communicate and collaborate with customers. It will cover how information gathered on mobile platforms is helping with the entire utility transformation. In addition, technologies such as augmented reality, 3D design/mapping/scanning, drones/UAVs and other technologies that bridge the office and field will be highlighted. 

Featuring sessions of special interest to:
• Utility executives
• Operations managers
• Asset managers
• Utility engineers
• Business improvement engineers/analysts
• Project managers
• IT executives
• System architects

Substation Integration and Automation
The T&D substation is a key source of essential data for the modern grid. It, therefore, follows that innovation and change in substation automation is occurring. Modern intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) such as protection relays generate valuable operational and nonoperational data. This data is used for both local and remote analytics and advanced applications. Local applications include equipment condition diagnostics, fault analysis, dynamic line and equipment ratings, data validation, intelligent bus-transfer, substation based FDIR/FLISR and IVVC, and distributed state estimation (DSE) using synchrophasor and SCADA data. The long-term trend is that substation data will be converted to useful information before leaving the substation. In addition, secure remote access enables the delivery of data to users across the enterprise (e.g., asset management, maintenance, power quality) to provide significant organizational benefits. In terms of remote applications, new data types, such as synchrophasor data, are driving a range of new applications of high value including WAMCS(wide area monitoring and control). The growing adoption of standards and broadband communications (WAN/LAN) enables greater access to and management of substation data, as well as improved cyber protection. Engineering strategies and interoperability aspects are crucial for efficient integration. Lessons-learned and benefits realized are central themes of this track.

Featuring sessions of special interest to:

• Control and integration engineers
• Grid automation and IT specialists
• Communications specialists
• Protection & control engineers and managers
• Operations engineers anda managers
• Electric maintenance engineers
• Electric T&D grid planners
• Utility consultants

The 2018 Call for Abstracts has closed.  
Please continue to check back as the conference program develops.

For questions regarding the DistribuTECH conference program please contact:

Debbi Wells Boyne, CMP
Conference Manager

Direct: 918-832-9265