One might ask, “Why do we attend UTC’s regional events?” This past week, more than 200 electric utility industry professional gathered in Orlando, Florida, to discuss improving the cost-effective delivery of reliable electricity. I think it is safe to say the UTC Region 3 Winter 2015 meeting didn’t disappoint attendees. All of the sessions and vendor night were very well attended, despite the wonderful weather (while most of the country was experiencing winter’s last breath of cold) and nearby attractions that attempted unsuccessfully to distract attendees.
The sessions didn’t only focus on ways to improve the cost-effective delivery of electricity. Several sessions went into great detail on practical challenges the industry faces as technology advances. Presentation and discussion topics included the convergence of technology to IP while continuing to support legacy systems, while at the same time protecting the grid from cyber and physical attacks. Increased bandwidth and spectrum are still the driver for extending technology to the edge of the power grid, while carriers continue working to drop support for traditional plain old telephony services.
All these conversations extended beyond the working sessions and vendor night to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and poolside discussions. These included both utilities and vendors reviewing new solutions along with proven best practices. One of evolving technologies discussed during these sessions were practical examples of using dedicated licensed spectrum like the 700MHz A block to control unmanned aircraft (UAVs) to move beyond line-of-sight limitations to address security and disaster response requirements. A topic the Department of Homeland Security raised was to develop a task force aimed at improving local and regional interaction, communications and safety training, between utilities and public safety first responders.
While all sessions and meetings contained high value, I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight a core reason Region 3 is so well attended by both vendors and utilities. The groups get along great, with the willingness between vendors and utilities to share lessons learned is based on trust and friendships that continue to expand.
So as we reflect on the growth in attendance being experienced by Region 3, I would challenge all attendees to look forward to the fall meeting in Mobile, Alabama. Hard to believe that Region 3 originated more than 70 years ago and the energy to make things better still exists.
Lastly would like to congratulate Tony Marshall from Duke Energy on winning the Ulteig booth gift. But we all won by attending the Region 3 meetings and bringing additional value back to our respective companies. This will not only pay dividends in the delivery of electricity, but add to the quality of life for all of us.