Cooperatives Plan for the Future at the Rural Smart Grid Summi


Cooperatives Plan for the Future at the Rural Smart Grid Summit

One of the most productive environments to meet, share, and explore ideas for utility technology and infrastructure change is the annual Rural Smart Grid Summit (RSGS). Now in its seventh year, RSGS has become an important event for rural cooperatives who are seeking cutting edge information, powerful connections, and innovative strategies about the future of the smarter electric utility.

This year’s RSGS brought together 50 vendors representing the latest technologies and services for smart utility solutions, as well as more than 100 representatives from rural electric cooperatives representing millions of homes and businesses across North America. The Summit’s distinctive, decision-making forum ensures every attendee has the opportunity to listen, learn, and discuss emerging and current technologies that include: Smart Grid Data Acquisition, Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Geographic Information System (GIS) and Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMS).

There were many important discussions that took place at RSGS but two major themes really stood out and resonated with attendees—the emerging trend of generation at the distribution level (both in front of and behind the meter) and cybersecurity.

When discussing the need to take control of the Distributed Energy Resources (DER) revolution, almost all of the cooperative representatives I spoke with were already facing issues like community solar and rooftop solar installations, but weren’t sure how to move forward. In my boardroom presentation, I explained how smart energy solutions like OATI’s webSmartEnergy suite of applications, can help cooperatives achieve maximum efficiency of these distributed energy resources whether during a peak period or not. Allowing them to take complete advantage of all the assets available regardless of the energy demands around them.

The importance of cybersecurity took center stage during the “Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection” panel discussion on day two. The panelists included Greg Gray, Vice President of Technical Services at SEDC, Tim Williams, Cybersecurity Technical Director at Referentia, Angelo Rizzo, President and CEO of Systems With Intelligence, and John Chowdhury, Managing Director at NKSoft. It was emphasized that in today’s world, we must make cybersecurity a normal course of business and incorporate it into the daily lives of all employees, just as we do with physical security and safety. This staff awareness is in addition to the safeguards we place on our firewalls and logical networks. 

It was great to see the cooperatives in attendance ready to embrace the future of DERMS/distributed generation and advanced cybersecurity, both of which have been topics that have been emerging for years and are being encountered in many co-ops today. I look forward to getting the chance to help them navigate the changes in our industry with our best-in-class technology.

About the Author:
Steve Sendele is an OATI Sales Executive working on the Smart Grid team. Mr. Sendele has more than 20 years of wireless data experience, with the majority of his experience being focused on selling Smart Grid solutions to utilities.