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San Antonio calls DistribuTECH a success

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Friday, March 09, 2012

At this year's DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition, more than 8,500 people attended the three-day conference, where more than 400 speakers discussed the latest trends in smart grid technologies in 78 conference sessions and 431 companies showed new products on the conference floor.

According to Electric Light and Power, the conference opened with Bill Harmon, vice president of residential marketing and product development at Reliant, who spoke on how utilities can get customers on board with new smart grid technologies. He likened public excitement about the new grid to the way another world-changing device was accepted.

"Imagine if Apple pitched the iPhone as a polycarbonate-screened, oleophobic, gesture-based interface instead of just showing us that this was the coolest thing around," he said.

Harmon added that utilities and energy companies will need to back away from listing technical specifications if they hope to keep the public from struggling to understand what a smart grid and intelligent electronic devices could mean for them.

"We need to share the value propositions of these technologies by showing customers what they can do with them in a way that they can understand," he said, adding that much of the electric management system in America has not been outfitted with smart devices or been introduced to automation.

At one of DistribuTECH's educational sessions, Alabama Power spoke on the impact of devastating storms, and how smart technology could have hastened the pace of power restoration after the deadly tornado outbreak of April 2011. In total, the storm damaged 400 transmissions, six substations and 8,000 distribution poles.

The Department of Energy also held an educational session in which it gave its presentation, "Validating the Benefits of Smart Grid Investments - Sustaining the Pace of Modernization." The sessions provided a forum that allowed utilities to discuss their smart grid project progress, which included Sacramento Public Utility District's 600,000 newly installed smart meters.

Aseem Kaper of ConEd stated the company used a good chunk of the funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund new smart grid communication infrastructure and cyber security programs - another facet of the smart grid that grabbed substantial attention.

SUBNET was on hand at the event, where it showcased the latest advancements in substation automation, secure, remote access and password management. SUBNET was also involved in three presentations that detailed utilities' implementation of smart grid technologies.

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