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Re-Imagining the Electric Grid

As we do annually, the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) members and other industry enthusiasts came together for the General Meeting from Aug. 5-9, 2018. Over 3,200 attendees converged on Portland, OR, USA, in order to provide new insights, innovative ideas and answers to some of the most intriguing and important questions facing the power industry today. During the course of the week, attendees were able to attend informational, technical and tutorial sessions, committee and working group meeting, poster sessions, a job fair, networking events, tours of technical facilities, and companion activities.  As they say, “You can, in Portland” and we certainly did!  Whether it was enjoying Portland’s eclectic visual arts scene, great meals from the hundreds of food carts or fantastic tax-free vintage shopping, Portland provided a truly unique environment for this year’s conference.

The week’s events kicked off at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) with a delicious catered Welcome Reception where old friends and new friends were united.  The OMSI had many interesting exhibits that captured the imagination of those in attendance.  As luck would have it, the premier attraction during that time was the Robot Revolution; a display that demonstrated how, in the near future, robots will become our companions and colleagues – changing the way we play, live and work together.

The following morning, the all-important members meeting featured an update on PES activities from PES President Saifur Rahman, including a new interactive portion where attendees were able to respond to questions in real-time and help drive the conversation towards their interests.

The Plenary Session, hosted by Richard Goddard of host utility Portland General Electric, officially welcomed the attendees to Portland and discussed shifting trends in the electric industry as well as strategy implications.  Six speakers from an international cross-section of organizations dealing with diverse aspects of technology and energy integration provided insight into initiatives that are currently underway and their vision of the future.  The exciting lineup of participants included:

  • Maria Pope – President and CEO, Portland General Electric
  • Larry Bekkedahl – Vice President, Transmission & Distribution, Portland General Electric
  • Peter Jørgensen–Vice President, Associated Activities, Energinet
  • Mark Ahlstrom – Vice President, Renewable Energy Policy, Nextera
  • Heather Rosentrater – Vice President, Energy Delivery, Avista Corp
  • David Danner – Chairman of the Utilities and Transportation Commission, Washington

Timely and emerging topics were explored in various session formats during the week, including the highly attended Super Sessions where topics closely followed this year’s theme:

  • Data Science and Data Quality as Applied to Power System
  • Lower Inertia and Weaker Grids
  • New Application of Technology in the Power Industry
  • Emergency Response

Before the week was done, over 500 tutorials, technical sessions, paper sessions, poster sessions, committee meetings, working group meetings, and task force meetings were held, propagating the latest technical information and developing leading practices and standards for the power and energy industry.

The annual Student/Industry/Faculty Luncheon was a hit with students and employers alike as the dined together and then participated in a highly attended job fair.  This, along with the Scholarship Plus Reception, and student poster session, highlighted a compelling Student Program.

The annual PES Awards Gala once again recognized our peers by applauding their vision, leadership and innovations.  Another strong program of award winners was supported by a smooth jazz band and a delicious meal as we celebrated creativity and pioneering technological excellence.  We hope you’ll consider nominating a colleague in this upcoming year and attend the 2019 Awards Gala.

While it seems as though the 2018 General Meeting just happened, we are hard at work on the 2019 General Meeting which will be held from August 4-8 in Atlanta, GA, USA.  The Steering Committee and Local Organizing Committee plan to raise the bar again as we explore the theme Expect Uncertainty / Prepare to Adapt.  We hope to see you in Atlanta in August, 2019!

J. Stryjewski
PES GM Steering Committee Chair