Top 5 Disruptions Utility Execs Are Probably Worrying about Right Now

DistribuTECH 2019 showcases all the latest innovations and disruptions taking place in the electric utility industry. 

If you are one of the almost half-million people who work in the utility industry, no doubt you know that the industry is changing, and fast. Lucky for you, DistribuTECH offers you an in-depth look at every single aspect of the utility business and how all of those changes will affect you and the work that you do every day.

Here’s a look at the top industry trends that you might want to learn something about as you attend the event.  

Customers: More and more utilities are working to meet the needs of their customers. This includes responding to requests to offer more access to clean energy, engaging with customers to deliver better services and helping customers integrate a wide array of technologies and gadgets that make energy more, well, fun.

Don’t miss the following in the Customer strategies & technologies track

Cybersecurity: The world is digitalizing everything. From running our power plants to running our distribution systems to running our homes, we are turning to digitalization as a means to make our businesses and lives more efficient and easier to manage.

But those tiny sensors and big connected software systems come with one enormous caveat – what happens when they get hacked? A cyberattack on the utility grid could have very big implications for the electricity industry and utility executives remain vigilant in their attempts to thwart them.

Don’t miss the following in the Defending the grid track

Reliability: Delivering reliable, affordable electricity service has always been a top priority for utilities but with more devasting disasters like wildfires, blizzards, tornadoes and hurricanes, utilities are finding it increasingly difficult to keep the lights on after a significant weather event. Innovative technologies like big data, analytics, drones and robots are helping utilities meet these challenges in ever-innovative ways.

Don’t miss the following in the Reliability, resiliency and response track:

Distributed energy resources: The price of a residential solar system has plummeted in the past decade, falling 80 percent since 2008. Experts think it could fall another 50 percent over the next decade. As more homeowners opt to generate their own clean energy, becoming prosumers — i.e. they produce and consume energy — utilities are left trying to figure out how to manage this increasing amount of distributed energy being fed into their grids.

Is energy storage a solution? If utilities can quickly understand how to incorporate storage into the grid and use distributed batteries as one large virtual battery, it sure could be. But if the battery price falls as quickly as the solar price does, utility customers might just opt to buy both and disconnect from the grid all together. And what about other DER challenges and opportunities such as Electric Vehicles and demand response? DER has so many implications for utilities today that DTECH offers multiple tracks, tours, talks and networking events devoted to just this one important topic. Don’t miss the following:

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): If you’re not up-to-date on how blockchain could disrupt the utility industry, how utilities are using artificial intelligence to manage electric vehicle adoption with V2G technology, how augmented reality and robot-driven drones are changing operations and maintenance for utilities and how connected homes and smart cities are making your customers lives oh so much easier, then you are…normal. Because who can keep up with all of the new technologies out there? Don’t suffer from FOMO, just be sure to check in with the following sessions and events at DTECH 2019:

The utility industry is changing and so is DistribuTECH. We’re under new management as Clarion Events has taken the helm and is investing in better and more content for our attendees and a more beneficial experience for our exhibitors. We hope you’ll enjoy our four knowledge hubs packed with informative educational sessions open to any attendee regardless of what type of badge you have. Our keynotes, now on both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, offer high-level overviews of big trends in the industry as seen from high-level executives. Our networking events will be fun and fruitful as always. See you around! — JMR 

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Jennifer Runyon
Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com Today, in addition to managing content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference and expo for the transmission and distribution industry. In her role, she works in close cooperation with a large team of committed industry executives to shape the educational content for the event. She also helps assemble the renewable energy content for POWERGEN and helped launch the first Grid-Scale Storage Summit, a co-located event at HYDROVISION International. She has traveled to Germany to see onshore and offshore wind installations; Iceland to see geothermal energy in action; and France to see cutting-edge smart grids. In the U.S. she has visited and reported about bioenergy power plants in Florida, both large-scale and small-scale hydropower; and multiple wind farms, solar PV, and CSP installations. Formerly, she was the managing editor of Innovate Forum, an online publication that focused on innovation in manufacturing. Prior to that she was the managing editor at Desktop Engineering magazine. In 2008, she won an "Eddy Award" for her editing work on an article about solar trees in Vienna. In 2010, RenewableEnergyWorld.com was awarded an American Business Media Neal Award for its eNewsletters, which were created under her direction. She holds a Master's Degree in English Education from Boston University and a BA in English from the University of Virginia.

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