The intelligent grid is a lot like the TV show, Dating in the Dark, according to Gene Wolf, consulting engineer and founder of Lone Wolf Engineering LLC. He is working to dispel the confusion that exists in the power industry right now.
“There is so much to the subject, but most folks only know about what is right in front of them,” Wolf said. He is running into that confusion as he teaches courses across the country.
“I was part of a panel at an energy summit held in Santa Fe this year. One of the panelists (expert from IBM) told the attendees (about 500 people) the intelligent grid wasn’t available yet. It was still under development,” Wolf said. “I asked him why utilities were spending billions on the technology each year if it wasn’t available – that was a very interesting discussion.”
As Wolf works to educate utility professionals, he continues to teach courses and present at conferences. He will present Renewable Energy + Energy Storage = Intelligent Grid 2.0 at Electric West, held March 16-18, in Las Vegas. The session will cover the existence of embedded intelligence in the transmission and distribution grid, addressing topics such as the digital utility, advanced hardware and software, automation and asset management. He will also participate in a panel session at Electric West: Energy Storage – The Missing Link of Renewable Energy.
Wolf will speak at the Finepoint Circuit Breaker Test and Maintenance Training Conference’s Factory Day. HVB AE Systems sponsors the factory tour, and Wolf will do two alternating sessions, one addressing Hurricane Ike and one covering the Intelligent Grid. (Wolf covered the aftermath of Hurricane Ike for Transmission & Distribution World with Editor Rick Bush.)
Wolf, who worked as a substation engineer at Public Service Co. of New Mexico for 28 years, has become an expert in the “new” T&D industry, an industry that now deals with such elements as the intelligent grid, renewable energy and energy storage.
“T&D World gave me the assignment to investigate renewable energy for a supplement,” Wolf said. “I have connected two wind farms to the grid in the past, and that lead to the energy storage assignment. When you start digging, you find renewables are only the tip of the iceberg, which lead to the course at Electric West.”
Storage takes renewable energy and makes it part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, “but we have to educate the industry,” he said. “There are many storage technologies out there, but not a lot of understanding – much like the intelligent grid. It is all interrelated and brings about great change.”
Wolf retired from PSNM in 2007 after starting Lone Wolf Engineering. He began LWE to allow more flexibility in writing, lecturing and teaching.
“My current job description is to have fun,” Wolf said. “As a consultant, I am free to schedule my time as needed. If an interesting teaching opportunity comes up, I can do it.”
He has still been working on engineering projects as well. This past year, he took part in a life extension study for a HVDC converter station, helped a utility with its substations standards, and is now working on a static VAR compensator project. He was also made a Fellow at IEEE. “This, plus my writing and teaching, has kept me in the fun zone all year.”
Wolf also has fun with a form of martial art from the Philippines called Escrima. It is a form of knife fighting using sticks, daggers, machetes and other bladed weapons.
“When I worked for the utility, there was a lot of stress, and I found that when someone is attacking you with a machete or a baseball bat, it gives you a chance to forget about the office,” he said.
He works out every morning with a 5-pound machete, which keeps him in good shape. When possible, he and his friends try to get together to have a class and work out, but not as much as he would like.