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The view from EECON: A look at day one

By Andy Kondola
Emerging Technology and Innovations Manager 

 

Emerging Technology and Innovations Manager Andy Kondola shares his thoughts from the first day of EECON 2016, a leading conference for electrical engineers to share ideas and innovations. The conference’s theme is “Evolution in the Electricity Industry – understanding the opportunities and the threats”. Andy is one of the Western Power speakers to share insights into our emerging technology program.

Day one at EECON 2016 started off with a bang and a large coffee. The conference pulled together like minded professionals from all walks of life, hailing from different companies and countries. The panel and the audience offered a broad collective experience worth diving into with great presentations from key industry experts and leaders outlining the challenges of and threats to our industry.

Pardon my pun, but it was an electrifying morning - fascinating and frightening at the same time…

The venue is filled with eager professionals - various company representatives with a very broad collective experience from all corners of the world. A veritable group of experts and thought leaders, coming together to consider the current challenges being faced with the electricity industry. All with different opinions, thoughts, visions of the future and ideas.

Yet one thing binds us all…passion to build a better future for all customers.

With the advancements in technology, we are in a unique situation to take advantage of this. To provide our customers with a more efficient, reliable and safer supply of such an essential service.

Customer expectations are somewhat clear in this space – “I want cheap power, that is reliable (including high quality), and clean (aka renewable).”

Quite a difficult challenge to achieve all three requirements, but not impossible. That's where Western Power’s emerging technology and innovations team comes into action.

Our first goal is to engage with stakeholders and the broader market to hunt down opportunities that have the potential to add value to the overall service to our customers, bring down the costs to supply or to improve on reliability. Or if the planets align, all three!

Our second goal is to pilot these technologies on our network to achieve the customer requirements in a localised area, prove that it works, or learn quickly from the failures.

Finally, to share these learnings with our people so it becomes part of Western Power’s DNA, and forms a natural part of the solution toolkit employed by our planners.

A walk into the future

EECON and other such conferences allow us to do our job in achieving the first goal. We get to listen to the learnings of the current industry thought leaders, from CEOs sharing their visions of the electricity future, to technical experts sharing their learnings from actual projects and the customer experience.

These sessions are of significant value for numerous reasons, such as networking, idea generation, building opportunities, reconfirming our strategic pathway and learning what others are doing.

As I mentioned, we are in a unique position with a large network connecting through a very diverse terrain to a broad range of consumers. Our challenges are many, and our customers are becoming more excited with the changes in technology. This gives us the perfect environment to experiment and try something new, so we can learn and grow.

To facilitate a new future with an eye to economic viability. We’re on our way to that future, along with various partners such as Horizon Power and Synergy.

We've already started our transition from a mindset of being a poles and wires business to a more flexible and nimble energy trading platform – challenging the concept of a network business being only the lines that connect customers to generation, and shifting to a business that installs stand-alone power systems and other innovative solutions.

This creates a significant complication on the planning, design and operation of the network, but this is the attraction to many working in this industry. And this is the passion that is present in EECON, in the industry, all with the aim to build a better future for the customer.

EECON 2016 will end with all the attendees returning back to their respective companies, all with renewed vigour and hope for what can happen in the future of the network. I am sure that the investment of the attendees into the two days has the potential to reap benefits towards developing solutions that offer our customers a more efficient, secure and cleaner supply.

Changing our future only requires the right conversation and a healthy dose of passion. So with that, I hope many passionate and energetic people will come along with us for “a walk into the future” of what this community infrastructure will evolve into.

EECON concludes today. Andy will be addressing the audience on how Western Power is adapting the grid to emerging technology, while Senior Frameworks and Regulatory Specialist Jai Thomas will be speaking on the use of stand-alone power systems as an alternative to traditional network investment.

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