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Exchange 2021 Day 1: Innovation for the Future

5/12/21 3:39 PM

Pro Tip (3)

It’s been said the future isn’t a matter of chance; it’s a matter of choice. Based on presentations made Tuesday, May 11, when we kicked off our largest—and most-attended—Exchange conference to date, it’s clear that the Landis+Gyr community is choosing a future filled with innovation.

Exchange is the premier event for the energy management community, bringing together energy industry professionals for three days of content spanning advanced metering, smart grid, new metering products and solutions, and more topics driving the industry forward. The conference also provides a forum where utilities connect and “exchange” experiences and ideas. This year, our theme, “For the Future” showcases the innovation, partnership, sustainability, and technology leading positive change for the future.

After Chief Executive Officer, Landis+Gyr Group, Werner Lieberherr welcomed attendees, Prasanna Venkatesan, president and CEO of Landis+Gyr Americas, started the conference by highlighting how we overcame the challenges of 2020 in partnership with the Landis+Gyr community as well as how we are celebrating our 125th anniversary as a company.

“I attribute the success of Landis+Gyr to two simple things,” Venkatesan said. “We’ve always been agile, and we adapt to change.” 

Much like Landis+Gyr, National Grid, a multinational gas and electric utility with operations in the northeast U.S. and throughout the U.K., is continuing to innovate, transform, and work toward a brighter energy future for their customers.

Carlos Nouel, National Grid’s VP of transformation, joined Venkatesan to discuss the utility’s clean energy goals. He pointed to his organization’s aim to reduce its greenhouse gas to approximately 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. “Think about the role that utilities play in society,” he said. “We are the agent that keeps everything going. We play a role in creating a cleaner, better future for us and our future generations.”

Nouel has his eye on supporting EV adoption, empowering customers with more insight on their energy use, maintaining reliability despite increasing weather disruptions, as well as keeping power quality high in the face of distributed generation. These are only some of the reasons National Grid is deploying AMI. “Every node will be as informed as a substation in the future,” he said.

Showcasing how we’re enabling increased intelligence at the edge, Landis+Gyr Senior VP Tim Weidenbach covered two key developments heralding innovation ahead. One is the introduction of the Revelo meter. “It not only measures energy; it lets utilities see the characteristics of the waveform—the quality of the energy delivered,” he explained. “This massively increases the amount of data available at the endpoints.”

To help utilities use that data at the grid edge, more computing power has been built into Revelo. And to make that data useful, we have partnered with the world’s leading search engine and top-tier cloud services provider: Google Cloud. “That will allow us to take this massive amount of data and do things we never thought we could do before,” Weidenbach said.

Purpose for the Future

Behind all great transformation and innovation lies a purpose to build a brighter future. John Romero, Landis+Gyr vice president of industry solutions, followed the keynote with a talk on the power of purpose in business. “Extraordinary businesses start with extraordinary people,” he said. “Extraordinary people always start with a purpose.”

Romero also said that a business shouldn’t make profit its primary purpose. “To have purpose means that things you do are of real value to others,” he explained. Profit is just the result.

Given this, Romero said helping utilities meet customer needs is our primary purpose. That will mean empowering utilities to manage electric vehicles, which are forecast to make up 27% of car sales by 2030, as well as helping utilities deliver cleaner power because “35% of the population is committed to 100% green energy,” he said.

Of course, most energy consumers want to have more awareness of their energy usage, and one utility helping them do that is Tipmont REC. The co-op’s manager of essential services, Tolu Omotoso, joined Noel King, director of business development for Sense, in delivering a breakout session, ”Consumer Energy Insights and Utility Benefits.”

Sense technology disaggregates load within customer premises and presents real-time, easy-to-understand data on a smartphone-based app. The technology can be deployed separately or as part of a Revelo meter, and it’s so precise, King recalled a utility manager, who in pre-COVID days, checked his app every afternoon at around 3 p.m. to see if the light went on in the refrigerator, meaning his son was home from school.

Tipmont has been using Sense to support load management and energy efficiency initiatives. Omotoso explained that to maximize investments and keep rates low for members, a utility has three options: “Utilize your assets a little bit more, reduce your cost, or grow your revenue.” Tipmont decided to target cost reductions because some 40 percent of energy costs are related to peak demand charges. Using Sense, the utility can help energy consumers understand their energy use, find shiftable load, and verify compliance in load management programs.

Data for the Future

Applications, like those created by Sense, generate large amounts of data, as do grid-edge sensors that help utilities find faults, manage assets, and more. In a presentation titled, “Powerful Partnership for the Future: Innovation at Google Speed,” Tim Weidenbach observed, “We’re coming to the point where meter data can help you run the grid in real time, and you can’t do that without digital transformation.” Our Global CTO, Jeff Seabloom, added: “The speed of digital will never, ever be this slow again.”

To leverage the future increase in data, we have become Google Cloud’s preferred energy partner, a distinction held by only a handful of companies, explained Chip Grimes, GM of Google’s global strategic initiatives. This partnership “started at the executive board level” he said, to ensure both companies are “willing to collaborate.” Next, the two companies each assigned 50 employees to a month-long discovery process to verify that culture, goals, and processes aligned.

Now that the partnership is in place, we will co-invest in innovation. The alliance gives our company access to some of Google’s many corporate assets, such as DeepMind, a group of 300+ doctorate-level researchers working on artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions.

Grimes noted that Google plans to be in the trenches with our utility customers to provide them with more useful data and flexible solutions. “That’s what we’re trying to do with this partnership,” he said. “We’ll manage energy better, together.”

As we ended the day with a Connection Activity bringing together attendees from across the globe for fun and networking, it was clear to see the Landis+Gyr community is transforming the future of energy. Over the next two days, Exchange 2021 will continue to offer powerful content putting innovation, partnership, and purpose at the forefront of a brighter energy future.

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