Thursday, September 26, 2013

5th Annual Transmission West Summit - San Diego

This past week I was an invited speaker at the 5th Annual Transmission Summit West 2013 in beautiful San Diego, California.  The event was from the 23rd to 25th of September and I had the opportunity to sit in on the sessions on the 24th and 25th.  Of course I spoke on "Threats to Grid Reliability -- Dealing with Cybersecurity and Other Threats in an Era of Control Area Consolidation." on the last day / last session.

Sunrise Powerlink Photo

Overall the meeting was quite interesting and a bit different than I expected.  First, the session where I presented was the only discussion focused on infrastructure protection/cybersecurity per se.  There were no discussions about the implications of President Obama's recent executive order focused on improving critical infrastructure cyber security.  To me that was quite surprising and maybe an indicator of how much work we have to raise awareness...

However, the sessions were not boring by any means.  Instead they focused on such considerations as FERC Order 1000 and its impact on transmission grid competition, projects, etc.  Also, there were interesting conversations regarding new business and financing models to increase the profitability of transmission projects in lieu of low interest rates and players interested in investing in relatively low risk infrastructure projects.

Probably the best presentation was by Jim Avery, Sr Vice President of San Diego Gas & Electric where he discussed the Sunrise Powerlink transmission project that was built to help move renewable energy from the Imperial Valley to San Diego and to the more densely populated areas of the coast.  This project was basically built almost entirely by helicopter at a substantial cost to the rate payers.  And, as serendipity plays, the project was completed just in time to help bring power to the area concurrent with the unplanned permanent shut down of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

Of course there were some vendor presentations on their technologies and services that still were interesting to most in the crowd.

In conclusion, though, I will say that with the challenges the electric grid is facing from cyber threats and supply chain security encroachment it would make sense to increase the dialogue and education about these topics to the transmission infrastructure managers, utility VPs, and attorneys at the conference.

Maybe next year.....

For details on the conference it was managed by Infocast (  The link to the conference is