A drenaline flowing, feet flying, Yves Filion and David Croft, along with a dozen fellow CIGRÉ members, sped around this manpowered merry-go-round. This bicycle ride made up just one of the many people-pleasing stations at CIGRÉ's main social event, “An Evening at the Pavillon de Bercy.” I had an awesome time riding the many merry-go-rounds, trying my luck at games of chance and coming next-to-last in mechanical horse racing. For those of us with spouses, the dance floor proved irresistible.

Fun aside, the reason for this international gathering, held in September in Paris, France, is to bring together the most influential people in the world of high-voltage transmission systems. Croft, the outgoing CIGRÉ chairman, helped orchestrate significant changes in his four-year stint at the helm, not the least of which was to bring levity and fun into an organization filled with us “technical types” that take a little coaxing to let our hair down.

CIGRÉ (the International Council on Large Electric Systems) holds its major event in Paris every two years. This year, Croft, who is also CEO of TransGrid in Australia, turned over the reins of CIGRÉ to incoming Chairman Yves Filion, president of Hydro Quebéc-TransÉnergie. Filion is more than ready to take the reins, committing to raise the awareness of CIGRÉ among industry leaders, while increasing the organization's influence and recognition throughout the world.

CIGRÉ, now claiming 53 national committees and nearly 5000 members, keeps up with fast-moving trends. One study committee addresses electricity markets and another addresses dispersed generation. The 16 study committees also address typical utility fare, including system protection, insulated cables, overhead lines and substations.

I found the time to sit in on several special sessions offered throughout the event. The first session discussed grid failures worldwide. The consensus view tells us that we need to again focus on tree trimming and routine maintenance. We also need to see events as they occur on neighboring transmission systems.

The CIGRÉ event also hosted a dynamic show floor. At one booth, I discovered seven vendors working together. The Utility Communication Architecture (UCA) International Users' Group cosponsored this booth with ABB, AREVA, Omicron, Siemens, GE Multilin, KEMA and LiveData to discuss this communication architecture recently approved by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC 61850).

Where Next?

Croft sees a critical need at CIGRÉ to bring in bright young engineers and provide them educational activities. This year, each CIGRÉ national committee was offered two complementary registrations for young delegates attending for the first time. Thirty-one first-timers took advantage of the free registration.

I encourage Filion and all the CIGRÉ study committee and working group members to continue on their wild ride. A new generation of engineers and scientists is taking over the reins. Let's make sure they have access to the technical expertise they will need to make quality decisions about our grid.

Thank you, David Croft, for your four years. You've done CIGRÉ proud.

Editor's Note: For more information on CIGRÉ events go to: www.cigre.org or contact Secretary-General Jean Kowal at jean.kowal@cigre.org.