IEEE Power & Energy Society Celebrates Conference’s 50 Years

Its flagship conference and exhibition will look at innovations past and future

14 February 2014

The need for energy is all around us: to fuel our cars, to power our gadgets, and to heat our homes. After 130 years of research and innovation by its members, the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) will celebrate its achievements with an eye toward the future at its biennial conference in April.

The 2014 IEEE PES Transmission and Distribution (T&D) Conference and Exposition, to be held in Chicago from 14 to 17 April, will focus on the theme “The Next Fifty” as a tribute to the first conference back in 1964. With an estimated 15 000 people expected to attend from some 60 countries, including academics, business leaders, engineers, entrepreneurs, and government regulators, the conference has become the industry leader, says IEEE Fellow Miroslav Begovic, the society’s 2014 president. And this year many of the PES’s past T&D Conference committee members and chairs will attend to join in the celebration.

“There is no better way to celebrate the anniversary of the T&D conference and exhibition than to have so many people come together in one place under one roof,” Begovic says.

The conference was recently named one of the “Fastest 50” by Trade Show Executives Awards and Summit for being one of the fastest growing in attendance and number of exhibitors. More than 700 vendors are expected at the conference to showcase their products and services.


The four-day event will be jam-packed with sessions discussing the future of power and energy. Daniel Burrus, considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation, will lead the opening session on 15 April, “What Technologies Will Shape the Future of the Electric Utility Industry?” He will discuss his vision for breakthrough technologies that can be expected in the future.

Other forward-looking events include a session on reducing the impact from storms. It will cover ways to improve system design and better plan for power restoration, as well as how to conduct analytical research to develop a more resilient and robust power grid. The session will be led by IEEE Senior Member Shay Bahramirad, the manager of smart grid and technology at ComEd, the largest utility company in Illinois, based in Chicago. Another session, on 16 April, will look at alternatives to present-day transmission and distribution technologies. It will discuss operational and design changes that could make them more efficient and reliable.

The conference will also host numerous technical sessions on topics such as energy development, intelligent-grid formation, power generation, and power-system planning and analysis. Panel discussions will examine the needs of the industry, including two sessions on technologies for advanced electric cars that will consider applications for faster charging stations and energy savings in vehicles. Another panel will bring together researchers and engineers to evaluate the economic viability and potential business models for each for renewable energy proposed at the session.

For an additional cost, the conference will offer technical tours of nearby companies and facilities, including ComEd and Exelon City Solar, which now has more than 32 000 solar panels built on 41 acres of previously vacant land. These panels are generating more than 14 000 megawatt-hours of electricity to nearby homes.


One draw of any large conference is the ability to network with leaders in the field, especially for power engineering students who don’t often get the chance to do so. To help with that, there will be a luncheon and job fair for students, where they will be able to interview with several of the companies present at the conference. In addition, local high school students will be invited to take a tour of the exhibit hall. There will also be a session on “Training the Next Generation of Power Engineers,” with leaders discussing the skills needed to enter the industry and ways to improve the power and energy engineering curriculum.

For professionals and students alike, the conference will offer an education track with eight two-hour refresher courses on the fundamentals of power systems, such as short circuits, transformers, and utility electrical distribution.

Several full-day tutorial sessions will also be available, including one on renewable energy plant design and system interconnection. Another will be on enhancing smart grid benefits, focusing on improving their operation, management, and functionality. And a workshop titled “Leadership and Team Development for Managerial Success” will cover team building, coaching, and developing a vision and leadership style. Continuing Education Units will be granted for the daylong sessions.

Looking ahead, PES has many plans for the future. It will continue to help students in the field, particularly through its scholarship fund, the IEEE Power & Energy Society Scholarship Plus Initiative. The society will also continue to emphasize sustainability practices and cheaper access to power throughout the world, particularly in developing areas.

“We can live and work the same way by consuming far less power and energy, so we need to turn our attention to sustainable alternatives,” Begovic says. “I can only dream about how this will all happen, and how far we’ll get in the next 50 years.”  

Registration is open until 14 April. For more information and to register, visit

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