Washington D.C. – December 6, 2022 -The GridWise Alliance’s annual gridCONNEXT conference took place in Washington, D.C. on December 5-6, bringing together a diverse community of energy industry stakeholders to share ideas, technology, and government funding opportunities related to grid modernization strategies. Attendees included representatives from the utility, communication, and technology sectors, as well as federal and state governments, among others.
During opening remarks, Maria Robinson, Director of the Grid Deployment Office at the U. S. Department of Energy, articulated the overarching theme of the meeting when she urged conference attendees to, “Deploy, deploy, deploy!” while providing an overview of available federal funding initiatives.
Highlighting this historic moment in time–when funding opportunities, provided via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) bills, are simultaneously aligned with the industry’s will and ability to modernize the grid–Robinson stressed that “now is the time” to invest in the widespread deployment of grid modernization initiatives.
“Let’s take this moment of creative genius and put it to work,” encouraged Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20), who participated in the “Grid Champion on the Hot Seat” discussion on climate, technology, and innovation, hosted by Lee Krevat, CEO of Krevat Energy Innovations and GridWise Alliance board member. “Standing still, the status quo, is going backward at this point,” Tonko said.
Other major themes of the conference included the imperative for upcoming grid modernization strategies and technologies to be transformative, collaborative, and equitable. Utility, communications, and technology companies alongside legislators and regulators all have to work together for grid modernization efforts to succeed, panelists emphasized.
“Nobody has the complete answer. Everyone has a part of the answer. So, collaboration is so important,” said Mahesh Sudhakaran, General Manager of Grid Software at GE Digital, during the session “Digital Transformation–What’s Next in IT/OT Convergence.”
As intra-industry collaboration becomes an essential component to grid modernization success, “GridWise is at the center of that conversation right now,” said Gil Quiniones, CEO of ComEd and Chair of the GridWise Alliance.
“Achieving real progress will require new insights, attitudes, and breakthroughs,” said Justin Driscoll, Interim President and CEO of NYPA. “We are taking advantage of emerging technologies and advanced analytics from the generator to the end user. With collaboration and vision, we can provide consumers with the ability to access an advanced technology environment in every aspect of the electric utility value chain.”
gridCONNEXT 2022 day one sessions included: Electricity and Telecom Convergence to Deliver Energy and Information, Architecture for a Carbon-Free Grid, What’s Next in IT/OT Convergence, Integrated Planning for Infrastructure Projects, and Foundational Investments to Maximize EV Fleet Benefits and Grid Champion on the “Hot Seat.”
Monday evening, conference attendees attended the first ever GridWise Technology Portfolio Showcase and Reception. The unique expo featured industry leaders showcasing how new or improved technology applications are solving critical electric system challenges. The expo highlighted themes from the GridWise Technology Portfolio white paper and featured GridWise Alliance members, EPRI, Guidehouse, Itron, Landis+Gyr, NYPA, and Sense.
Day two sessions focused on the rapidly emerging prosumer market and included: Prosumers Driving Markets-BTM Integration, Opening Energy Markets-Utility Scale Integration, the Anatomy of a Utility Pole, and an Industry Roundtable which included speakers from the utility, technology, and communication industries, as well as state and federal legislators and regulators. The panel shared grid modernization ideas and case studies and offered guidance for identifying and applying for local, state, and federal funding opportunities.
gridCONNEXT 2022 surpassed expectations and reflected the excitement and eagerness within an industry ready to take advantage of this moment in time to design, develop, (pay for!), and deploy transformational technologies to the grid. “This is a game changer moving forward in this energy transition,” said conference speaker, John Haysbert, Vice President and Head of Government Relations/External Affairs at Hitachi Energy. “I’ve never seen anything like this come to pass and I’m so excited to be a part of it.”
“The conversations on stage and in the hallways at gridCONNEXT were infused with optimism about how innovations in technology, policy and business models are proliferating across the grid industry, from the basic utility pole, which isn’t so basic anymore, to grid operations centers and C-suites at the nation’s largest utilities and regional transmission operators,” said GridWise Alliance CEO, Karen Wayland. “I look forward to doing deeper dives in 2023 into the themes raised at gridCONNEXT and working with our members to develop content that articulates the benefits of these grid innovations to consumers and the broader economy.”
gridCONNEXT 2022 By the Numbers
- 200 in-person participants (+20% growth)
- 33 percent of attendees represent C-suite and department leadership
- 9 federal, state, and industry leaders on one roundtable panel focused on IIJA implementation (it was a long table!).
- 6 unique demonstrations at the Technology Showcase and Reception (the first expo at gridCONNEXT).
- 2 gridCONNEXT productions, post-pandemic reopening, that have each exceeded attendance, registration, and sponsorship revenue targets.