Bird's Eye View: Autovation vs. GridWeek

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Last week was a flurry of smart grid activity with FierceSmartGrid editors covering highly regarded and well-respected smart grid conferences on both coasts. While I was in Long Beach, California at Utilimetrics' Autovation, Travis Mitchell was in D.C. at Clasma's GridWeek.

It was difficult to choose which conference to attend, since they were both held at virtually the same time. Utilities faced a similar difficult decision.

For example, San Diego Gas and Electric needed to be in two places at one time. Ted Reguly SDG&E's Director of Customer Programs and Assistance, who had been slated to present at Autovation, found himself in D.C. with SDG&E Smart Grid Director Lee Krevat. Meanwhile, in Long Beach, Carol Manson, SDG&E's Techical Strategy Development Manager was taking the podium for Reguly.

The utility was talking Green Button on both coasts. At Autovation, SDG&E rolled out Green Button Connect My Data, an automated, more advanced level of the initial Green Button data download tool, and the next step in the industry-led Green Button initiative. The Department of Energy's Chris Irwin at Autovation recognized SDG&E as the first utility in the nation to move to this next level.

Whether you call it big data, data analytics, interoperability, or any other buzzword, the high-level presentations at Autovation covered the energy data initiative effectively, providing real world examples direct from the mouths of respected utility executives from across the country. The dynamic, interactive presentations addressed industry issues from strategic deployment to collecting, analyzing and measuring data to opt-out issues for electric, gas and water utility professionals from investor owned utilities, municipals and electric cooperatives.

GridWeek provided several important takeaways, according to FierceSmartGrid Copy Editor Travis Mitchell:

The current energy regulatory structure is not designed to move quickly and keep up with the rapid advances in smart grid technologies. Regulators will need to work together to reform processes and encourage a better system, and work harder to incentivize utilities.

More standards will help the smart grid expand and make it easier for utilities and regulators to justify costs and subsequent rate increases.

The technology, including Wifi, Zigbee, smart appliances, and home energy management systems, are either in development or ready for deployment. If utilities do not step up their game, big retailers like Best Buy, Home Depot and organizations like Verizon and Comcast could threaten the home energy management business space.

Look to FierceSmartGrid and FierceEnergy for in-depth coverage of these trends and more in the coming weeks. If you would like to share your experiences regarding Autovation or GridWeek, please use the "inShare" button at the left-hand side of this article.

- Barb

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