March 2011

Association News

ISA POWID happenings

The Power Industry Division (POWID) of ISA was formed in 1956 to encourage the development and sharing of innovative instrumentation and control technologies among the electric utility industry professionals. Now, 55 years later, POWID is still meeting the needs of the power industry through its annual POWID Symposium, its newsletters, and its development of power plant standards. Some of today's needs are similar to those in 1956, such as improved control system techniques and monitoring systems for better efficiency. Other concerns of today were unheard of in 1956, such as cyber security, green house gas emissions, and wireless sensors. Through the decades, POWID has evolved as new technologies and challenges have arisen, and in 2011, it is just as relevant as it was in the 1950s. 

In spite of the deep recession, POWID membership has grown by nearly 20% to over 3,000, and our premier event, the POWID 2010 Symposium, was a major success, as we worked closely with the Automation Federation and ISA. The 2010 symposium featured high-level keynote speakers and an outpouring of technical papers and presentations from our membership on pressing power automation topics. The level of positive feedback from the attendees was unsurpassed.

The POWID 2011 Conference planning is well under way. The dates are 5-10 June, and it is being held at the Embassy Suites and Conference Center in Concord, N.C., just north of Charlotte, a hub of the resurgent nuclear power industry. This event will provide power generation industry leaders with information on the latest innovations in instrumentation, automation, security, and business systems technologies.

Each year, this international event brings together industry professionals in the Power Generation field with a primary focus on Instrumentation and Controls-the largest single event of its type. It features keynote messages from industry leaders including:

  • Christopher Guith, vice president for Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy
  • Tim Roxey, manager of Critical Infrastructure Protection, North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)
  • Ken Thomas, former Duke Energy Nuclear Fleet technical manager

We anticipate over 60 technical papers/presentations during joint sessions with fossil and nuclear focus, presented over a 2½-day period, including:

  • Fossil Power and the Environment - Responding to Demands to be Clean
  • Instrumentation - Role of Wireless and New Roles for Existing Technologies
  • Knowledge Management For the Nuclear Fleet
  • Regulatory Updates Regard Nuclear Fleet
  • The Evolving Roles of Gas Turbines in Power and Heat
  • Challenges in Fossil and Nuclear re Cyber Security
  • Monitoring and Diagnostic Fleet Centers of Excellence
  • Managing Digital Projects in Nuclear
  • Fossil Plant Performance Case Studies in Improvements
  • Challenges in Fossil and Nuclear re Cyber Security
  • Planning For The Next 80 Years - The New Time Horizons for Power
  • Simulation - Key to Success
  • Smart Grid - Demand Response & Supply Response
  • Instrumentation and Controls 101: I&C is the Cutting Edge in Technology
  • Small Modular Reactors: Status and Roles
  • Fossil - SIL Standards vs. NFPA 85 - Ongoing Dialog
  • Variable Energy Resources - Integration and Mainstreaming

Additional highlights will include ISA training sessions, EPRI Interest Group Meeting, ISA Power Plant standards working group meetings, Honors and Awards banquet, and vendor exhibits by key automation industry suppliers. The interactive setting and layout of the symposium lends itself to comfortable and friendly discussions with your peers.

The power automation industry is in the midst of a major growth period. President Barack Obama, during his mid-term State of the Union Address, emphasized the power industry as a key segment to the future success of the country. The terms "energy" and "clean energy" were mentioned a total of 15 times during this prime speech to the nation. In reference to the importance of electricity production and efficiency, Obama stated "building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country." He also called for investment in "clean coal technologies."

There is general recognition that smart grid and renewable energy invokes the highest levels of automation. MIT's January/February 2011 issue of Technology Review included a major article on smart grid, acknowledging the role of controls "to constantly adjust the flow of power from distributed sources and multiple power plants, adapting to rapidly changing conditions." Our power plant fleet will be challenged to be ever more flexible with automated startups, faster ramp rates, lower minimum loads, and higher peak loads. Only through automation can such improvements be effectively accomplished, meeting the load generation requirements while protecting and sustaining plant equipment, minimizing emissions, and maximizing efficiency. Perhaps the term "multivariable control" may become a common reference in control design. The power automation industry plays a prime role in providing affordable, secure energy for the world. Through ISA POWID, each of us are empowered to contribute to this endeavor.

-Written by Don Labbe, P.E., ISA Fellow, ISA POWID director, Invensys Operations Management (