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PES Meets in Mile-High Denver

2015 General Meeting breaks attendance records

A record number of attendees converged in late July on the Mile High City of Denver, Colo., for the largest IEEE Power & Energy Society General Meeting in history. The word is out on the value of this annual confab, as 3,393 people from 60 countries were in attendance, and fully one-third were attending their first General Meeting.

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Opening Session

The hallways were filled with shouted greetings in dozens of languages as colleagues from around the world met up with one another. Others used the PES GM Mobile App to network and make arrangements to meet colleagues and friends during the week’s events. Attendees came from every continent except Antarctica and the hubbub at the General Meeting’s numerous sessions, committee meetings and receptions reflected PES’ geographic and generational diversity.

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Opening Reception

The Society’s global diversity was on display as IEEE PES President Miroslav Begovic provided an update on the PES’ burgeoning membership, chapter growth and other successes to attendees at the Plenary Session on the General Meeting’s official opening day.

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President Begovic

PES membership is showing robust growth thanks to a concerted effort to attract new members globally, particularly among students and new engineers, Begovic told a standing-room-only crowd.

Membership has soared from approximately 22,000 members in 2003 to 33,391 today, a 50 percent increase over a decade. PES now has a record number (230) of professional chapters, up from 223 last year. Student chapter growth has surged to 160, up from 117 last year. And much of that growth has come outside North America, in Regions 8 (Europe, Middle East, Africa), Region 9 (Mexico, Latin America and South America) and Region 10 (Asia/Pacific), Begovic announced, to cheers and applause from the audience, which included many first-time General Meeting attendees personally responsible for that prodigious growth.

The statistical trend, in a snapshot, is positive, Begovic noted: membership outside North America has increased by more than 10 percent year-over-year (YoY), professional chapters outside North America have grown more than 5 percent YoY and, in a statistic that reflects the success of PES’ focus on students, student chapters outside North America grew by more than an impressive 40 percent YoY. Today, Begovic said, PES is third-largest society in IEEE.

Begovic enumerated several other milestone PES achievements of the past year:

  • 2014 marked the launch of the Society’s first open access publication, IEEE Power & Energy Technology Systems Journal, written specifically for the practicing engineer.
  • Power & Energy magazine will be published in the Spanish and Chinese languages next year.
  • Global conferences and attendance have grown over past two years, with events in India, Netherlands, Turkey, Colombia, Australia, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Thailand, Columbia, just to name a few.
  • PES members now enjoy unfettered access to the IEEE PES Resource Center, an online repository of technical reports, tutorials, conference presentations, videos and other resources.
  • In late 2014, IEEE PES and IEEE-USA delivered the first Quadrennial Energy Review – a report on six critical areas in North America’s electric power system – requested by U.S. President Barack Obama and the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • PES Careers, a free online service to connect students with employers in the power industry, has to date assisted 1,500 students and 300 employers in the U.S., Canada, the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, Africa) and Australia, and its focus is expanding to include Mexico, Latin America, South America, Asia/Pacific, and, next year, China.
  • The PES Scholarship Plus Initiative™, which focuses on workforce development in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, is making progress and needs continuing support.
  • And progress on the PES Technical Committee reorganization would be presented in multiple town hall meetings at the General Meeting in Denver.

Other Plenary Session speakers presented ideas that are driving the power industry, which were both visionary and pragmatic, global and local in nature.

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Plenary session

Dan Arvizu, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in nearby Golden, Colo., spoke to NREL’s role in moving proven concepts to the private-sector marketplace and he emphasized the importance of capital markets in funding the transition to a cleaner power generation portfolio.

Mark McGranahan, vice president of power delivery and utilization at the Electric Power Research Institute, spoke to “the challenge of integrating the customer” and suggested that “there couldn’t be a better time for [power] engineers” as “the challenges are the same all around the world.”

Picking up on that theme, David Sun, chief scientist at Alstom Grid, told the audience that they had to look beyond technical, electrical factors to “the human factor.”

“I am a customer,” Sun said, pausing for impact. “I want to be served. I’m no longer a passive consumer of kilowatt hours. I have choices. Those choices challenge our industry. And they bring incredible opportunities. We are evolving from cost-based to value-based services … and each of us must be passionate as we contribute to an intelligent energy ecosystem.”

But attendees were also reminded that “keeping the lights on” – and maintaining affordable service – during a historic period of industry transformation is just as important as a forward-looking vision of the future.

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Awards dinner

Joel Bladow, senior vice president of transmission for Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, Inc., provided a reality check with a talk on “Rural T.”

“Smart Grid in the city is one thing,” Bladow said. “Can that model be applied to rural America, in an affordable, reliable way?”

One challenge will be to reconcile distributed energy resources with utility-scale, centralized renewable resources, Bladow suggested. With that challenge in mind, he’d remain a “Show-Me Missourian,” he said.

With the Plenary Session over, attendees moved swiftly to a week-long smorgasbord of technical sessions, membership meetings, networking and receptions. And, according to the statistics reported on in Denver, many attendees already are planning to travel for the next PES General Meeting in Boston, Mass., 18-21 July 2016

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Poster Session