Electro-Tech Expo showcases efficient technology

For the 16th year, a Western customer and an investor-owned utility are teaming up to expose energy professionals in the Upper Great Plains region to cutting-edge equipment and systems and the latest in best construction practices.

US Chamber of Commerce Senior Policy Director Heath Knakmuhs spoke at the 15th annual Electro-Technology Expo last year. The event attracts policy makers as well as experts from across the electronics, construction and utility industries.

US Chamber of Commerce Senior Policy Director Heath Knakmuhs spoke at the 15th annual Electro-Technology Expo last year. The event attracts policy makers as well as experts from across the electronics, construction and utility industries. (Photo by Black Hills Power)

The 2016 Electro-Technology Expo  You are leaving Western's site. will take place, Jan. 21, 2016, at the Ramkota Best Western Inn and Convention Center in Rapid City, South Dakota. West River Electric Association You are leaving Western's site. of Wall, South Dakota, and Black Hills Power You are leaving Western's site. of Rapid City co-sponsor this popular event. Western also supports the Expo as a co-sponsor. UGP Energy Services Representative Georganne Myers said, “It’s a great place for our customers to network and learn so much in one day, and the price is affordable.” Admission to Electro-Technology Expo is $30, which includes qualifying code hours and continuing education credits.

Something for everybody
In fact, the Electro-Technology Expo is designed specifically to bring professionals together. This year’s Keynote Speaker is Mike Eggl, senior vice president of Communications and Administration for Basin Electric Power Cooperative You are leaving Western's site.. Vendors display state-of-the-art, energy-efficiency technology on the exhibit floor where utility program managers and contractors can inspect the equipment and get answers to their questions. Industry experts conduct workshops on topics of concern to power providers, facility managers and building industry professionals.

This year’s sessions include:

  • LED street and area lighting case studies – several sessions plus vendor booths
  • Demand management systems
  • Geothermal systems
  • Energy-efficient lighting technology
  • Home weatherization
  • Sustainability incentives
  • Electrical code classes (three sessions)
  • Motors and drives
  • Heat pump system troubleshooting
  • Hydronic in-floor heating systems
  • Changes in water heater regulations
  • Utility energy-efficiency program overview

Organizers distribute surveys at the end of the event to ask attendees for suggestions on future topics. “We start working on the next Expo the day after,” said Black Hills Power Energy Services Engineer Don Martinez.

Going strong
The value of the Expo shows in its enduring popularity. Attendance has grown over the years to more than 300 in 2015. Part of the growth has to do with an explosion of energy-related technologies. “Each year, attendees can count on seeing something new,” Martinez observed. “So much is happening in the industry, it can be hard to keep up. The Expo is a one-day crash course.”

The speaker roster is drawn mainly from vendors and suppliers, who have the opportunity to reach out to potential customers. Design and construction professionals; facility energy managers; building system specialists and real estate sales representatives, appraisers and inspectors can network with one another. Utility professionals get to meet with attendees from industries that have a profound effect on energy use.

The Expo planning committee has also built relationships with the local trade schools and school of mines. “It’s a chance to familiarize students with different aspects of the energy industry and let them know what kind of careers are out there for them,” Martinez explained. “The Expo is not a job fair, but connections happen,” he added.

Spreading efficiency
Putting on an event like the Expo is a lot of work that many utilities would consider beyond their scope. For Black Hills and West River, however, the Expo is a way to educate customers about equipment and practices that can reduce utility bills and operating costs. Getting trade allies excited about more efficient products to offer their customers has an upstream effect, as well, driving eventual market transformation.

The benefits of creating a forum for sharing information about energy-efficiency technologies and practices are significant enough to get a public power utility and an investor-owned utility to work together. “It is not often you see a joint effort between a public power utility and an IOU,” acknowledged Martinez. “But customer education is an important part of every power provider’s mission.”

For more information about the 2016 Electro-Technology Expo, on either attending or exhibiting, contact Jamie Hill at 605-721-2276.

Conference takes on transmission and generation issues

Learn the latest about planning, integration, operations and new technologies for renewable energy generation and transmission on Oct. 18 at the Renewable Planning and Operations Conference External link information in Denver, Colo.

Presented by the Rocky Mountain Electric League External link information (RMEL), the conference agenda targets professionals in electricity generation and transmission, as well as those who work in sustainable energy programs. Speakers will discuss renewable energy, such as wind, solar and biomass, and cover regulatory and policy issues.

Kicking off the program is a panel on Utility-Owned vs. Purchase Power Agreements. Ron Rebenitsch of Basin Electric Power Cooperative External link information and Dan Brickley of SRP External link information will join Greg Greenwood of Westar Energy to explore the pros and cons of engaging in purchase power agreements and/or owning renewables.

Luke O’Dwyer, also of SRP, will talk about the challenges of interconnecting renewable generator systems. His presentation will cover reliability studies, construction timing, equipment and design changes and interconnection queue management.

Discover how Nebraska utilities used the Nebraska Statewide Wind Integration Study to better understand impacts of wind energy facilities being built in the state. Jon Iverson of Omaha Public Power District External link information will discuss what Nebraska’s largest power providers learned from simulated wind scenarios.

Other presentations will cover wind forecasting for load management, demand-side management, system regulation, storage and more. Attendees will receive a continuing education certificate from RMEL worth 6.0 Professional Development Hours.

The Denver Marriott South at Park Meadows provides the location and lodging for the conference. Register today, and reserve your room External link information.

South Dakota workshop tackles commercial lighting April 19-21

Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Western are teaming up to take your lighting skills to the next level. Lighting the Way to Savings prepares you to become an expert in commercial lighting.

Come to Sioux Valley Energy’s Brandon Service Center in Brandon, S.D., to study the many factors that affect indoor and outdoor commercial lighting; calculate potential energy savings and learn to identify retrofit opportunities.

The instructor is Jim Herritage, Touchstone Energy’s senior national technical advisor, whose courses are always informative and entertaining.

The cost for the course is $350. Classes begin 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 19, and run through noon on Thursday, April 21. To register, please contact Chad Reisenauer at 701-557-5710.