Damir Novosel has made it his life’s work, or at least the last 30 years of it, to prevent blackouts and improve power system reliability and sustainability. As president and general manager of Quanta Technology (a subsidiary of Quanta Services) in Raleigh, North Carolina, which provides support and training on best practices and technologies to help electrical utilities achieve optimal performance and better manage risks.
He has worked with major U.S. and international utilities on projects related to reliability improvements, smart grids, and power system analysis, protection, and control. Recently, Novosel has led and participated in projects on wide-area monitoring protection and control to improve power system reliability with Pacific, Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, PJM, Bonneville Power Authority, National Grid, HEP Croatia, NERC, and others.
He has been active in numerous industry initiatives that support reliability. He is IEEE PES President Elect and served as chair of the PES Technical Council, vice president of technology, and a member of the PES Governing Board from 2010 to 2012. He has co-chaired the Performance Requirement Task Team for the North American Synchro Phasor Initiative (NASPI), large-scale activity of the North American utilities on implementation of Synchronized Phasor Measurements, supported by NERC.
One month after the Northeast blackout in 2003, Novosel was invited to be a keynote speaker at the Transmission & Distribution Conference in Dallas on power system blackouts. Novosel has also been interviewed by the Washington Post and popular Japanese radio station, J-Wave on the same topic. He co-authored a paper in IEEE Spectrum on “Taming the Power Grid” and contributed to McGraw-Hill 2006 Yearbook of Science and Technology on blackout prevention. Novosel has also been awarded 16 U.S. and international patents.
Novosel will be moderating the "Hot Topic" session: Industry Initiatives on Responding to Physical Threats to the Electrical Grid at the 2014 IEEE PES Transmission & Distribution Conference and Expo. The session will look at how our industry has been proactively responding to physical grid threats and learn about recommended actions and practices. The electric industry and regulators are working on best practices to better protect physical assets given the attacks last year on transmission facilities in Arkansas and California. While a suspect was apprehended in connection with the attacks on the Arkansas facilities, authorities have yet to arrest anyone for the California substation attack.
Novosel understands utilities’ needs and brings practicality to conferences and the classroom. “It’s important to be able to communicate to utilities how certain technologies can help meet their needs. It’s not just about what is the latest and greatest technological advancement, but how this technology really helps solve the problems and make things better,” he said.
Novosel teaches two types of students: university students as adjunct professor at North Carolina State University, and industry professionals as continuing education teacher. He communicates to university students the importance of enjoying what they are doing. “The worst thing is to have a job that you are not really excited about,” he said.
He tells professional students to always look for problems that can be solved. “Don’t just get enchanted with the new technology, but look for practical applications.”
When Novosel was a university student, he saw engineering as a difficult field to be in, he said, and he liked the challenge. He thought it might be easy to find a job in engineering. He attained his PhD in electrical power engineering in 1991 and joined ABB in 1992 where he managed the development of new technologies and implementation of advanced transmission and distribution solutions. In 1998, he became vice president of global product and technology management for automation products.
KEMA came next in 2003, where he was president and general manager and where he created, developed and managed the Transmission and Distribution Consulting division in the United States. Novosel went to Quanta in 2006.
Now he enjoys power and energy because “the electric power industry is helping support the overall society to satisfy energy needs,” he said. “Whatever we talk about, whether it’s wind, solar, batteries, or nuclear, it’s all related to electrical energy.”
In his free time, Novosel likes to play basketball and listen to music. “I have a great collection of music,” he said. He has more than 3000 CDs. He did acknowledge the CDs are now the “old technology,” so he does use an iPod.