The opening session yesterday kicked off the show in a big way — with the announcement that the vast majority of members had voted in favor of changing the name of the Power Engineering Society to the Power & Energy Society (PES). Members voted on the measure last month.

Although the name is different, the society’s mission — “to be the leading provider of scientific and engineering information on electric power and energy for the betterment of society and the preferred professional development source for our members” — remains the same. However, the name change allows the PES to reach other professionals who are playing more of a role in our industry as different technologies emerge. “We need to accommodate the emerging technologies, and it is more easily done within the society under the banner of our new name and revised constitution,” explained Wanda Reder, president of the IEEE PES, in her speech at the opening session. “We recognize that we must collaborate with others to meet the growing demands of a changing world. The challenges we face are very complex, requiring multiple disciplines. The new name better positions us to work with all professionals whose knowledge and experience are needed for industry problem solving.”Reder added, “Undoubtedly, this change is needed and the time is now. We are moving into the future as the IEEE Power & Energy Society while maintaining our brand identity as PES.”After Reder’s insightful comments, Carl Segneri, chair of the 2008 IEEE PES T&D Conference and Exposition, and Tommy Mayne, PES North America T&D chair — also known as The Windy City Wise Guys — welcomed the large crowd of attendees to Chicago and the show. Mayne said that this is a historic conference because it is the first one put on by the Power & Energy Society.This year’s PES T&D show is a big draw, not just to those from the United States, but all around the globe. Segneri and Mayne noted that 23 countries, outside the United States, are represented. Attendees are “traveling from Asia, Africa, India, South America, Central America, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Europe and many other countries including the United States,” Segneri said.The opening session then moved into a panel setting with the focus on confronting and dealing with the regulatory dilemma. Moderated by Elizabeth Anne “Betsy” Moler, executive vice president of government affairs and public policy for Exelon Corp., the three panelists included David Whiteley, executive vice president of the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), Garry Brown, chairman of the New York State Public Service Commission, and Timothy Gallagher, president of ReliabilityFirst Corp. The panelists discussed some of the important issues facing our industry today, such as the need for cooperation to get transmission sited, taking advantage of energy efficiency, starting to develop renewables and focusing more on Smart Grid initiatives.Moler talked about where Congress is at with possible climate-change legislation. “We at Exelon…are very much supporters of enacting climate-change legislation as soon as Congress can get it back together do so,” Moler said. “More than likely, I think it’s going to be a cap-and-trade regime.”She discussed a mandatory cap-and-trade program that’s being worked on by senators that would aim to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions substantially through 2050. The program would start out giving some allowances, which is a right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide. Initially, electric generators would get 19% of the year’s allowances, according to Moler. This allocation would remain at 19% for the first five years of the program and would then transition to 0% by 2035. Utilities would be allocated 9% of the allowances, which they could then sell or trade and would then be required to use that money to defray energy-cost impacts on low- and middle-income consumers and to promote demand-side energy efficiency.Moler mentioned that a bill on climate change in the House of Representatives could be ready by this fall, although right now representatives are just issuing white papers on the topic.The audience was able to participate in a Q&A with the panelists toward the end of the session. One of the most interesting questions came from Cheryl Warren, who works for National Grid and is the recently elected secretary of PES. She asked the panelists to share their vision on how we fund the Smart Grid going forward.Brown noted that he envisions a synergy with telecommunications companies. “The Smart Grid is communications — telecommunications,” Brown said. “What I’m hopeful for with the Smart Grid in the communications is we end up with the sort of synergies that we’ve seen develop in the telecommunications industry, where I now get my phone service, my cable service and my Internet service all from one company. There’s no reason, with advanced metering technologies, that telecommunciations companies and utilities can’t work together to deliver products.”>The funding is the challenge, Brown admits. He says that if utilities make the investment, the price of electricity is going to go up. But, if utilities don’t make that investment, the price of electricity is still going to increase. Funding of the Smart Grid initiative is a dilemma utilities are struggling with these days and one that will continue for years to come.