'Bedrock element of the industry' lost as Utilimetrics dissolves

December 20, 2020
Smart Grid Today
Autovation's focus called broad: field got crowded
Utilimetrics and its Autovation conference are no more, said a message from its former executive director in response to an inquiry from the publisher's office at Smart Grid Today.  That executive, Brad Barbera, did not respond to requests from our editorial staff for more information yesterday.

Nor did Joel Hoiland, who had been CEO of Utilimetrics.

Two other industry experts whose organizations host conferences told us they had heard the quarter-century-old Utilimetrics had closed.

Calls to other contacts for Utilimetrics in our database yesterday led to an anonymous answering machine message or did not go through at all.  The Chicago phone number listed for the trade group on its website went directly to voicemail.  Nobody returned a call yesterday from the messages Smart Grid Today left.

Utilimetrics voted to “dissolve itself after this past Autovation conference [in October and] no longer exists,” Barbera wrote to us in his initial email message.  Utilimetrics was originally called the Automatic Meter Reading Assn (AMRA), the Utilimetrics website reminded.

The strongest Autovation conference was arguably held in 2009.  From that Denver conference, Smart Grid Today chronicled what Capgemini and SDG&E were saying about “change management (SGT, 2009-Sep-17) and how important it was at the time for utilities to not only set internal quality requirements for AMI and smart grid applications but also understand how they apply to those providing services or software or hardware, (SGT, 2009-Sep-16), for example.

By this year, the smart grid technology conference market became so crowded that industry experts complained there were too many to choose from, and that repetition of content was problematic (SGT, Jan-04).
UTC reflects on field
The loss of Autovation is a natural part of the ebb and flow of industry conferences, Paul Lekan, director of marketing and communications the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC), told us yesterday, acknowledging that the “utility modernization space has seen rapid growth, particularly in the last five years.”
QUOTABLE: A lot of the dialogue started in what was
originally the AMRA Autovation conference.  It really was
a bedrock element of the industry.  As our focus on smart
grid expands, it's only natural the dialogues will move in
different directions and some efforts are going to expand,
some will contract and some will emerge and some will
consolidate.  I don't look at it as indicative of conferences
in general.  I think each event will stand on its own merits.
Paul Lekan, director of marketing and communications UTC
UTC puts on an annual telecom conference, the next one being in Houston in May.

“We're fortunate that the basic structure of [UTC] Telecom has been supported by continued, year-over-year growth,” he said.  “Last year was the largest turnout, as far as utilities as well as solution-provider support.”

Utilities continue to go to the UTC conference “because we're dedicated to a very focused area of smart grid, which is the telecom and network communications infrastructure industries,” Lekan said.  “It gives us the opportunity to focus and ensure that the content is extremely relevant for a very specific audience.”

Cybersecurity is a critical issue this year -- “not just from a software platform standpoint but from a network security standpoint and our members are specifically tasked with participating in cybersecurity efforts within utilities,” he added.
Group covered broad focus

Cybersecurity will also get prominent play at this summer's National Town Meeting on Demand Response & the Smart Grid, as will pricing programs, Assn for DR & Smart Grid (ADS) Executive Director Dan Delurey, told us yesterday.

“Each year, we've had themes that we weave into the Town Meeting.  A couple of years ago, it was customer engagement.  Last year, we talked about some of the upstream parts of the smart grid -- getting more into distribution management and DA and so on.”
QUOTABLE: Utilimetrics did water and all sorts
of other areas.  And the real business and policy action
has been in electricity, which is why you've seen smart
grid and DR organizations start up.
ADS Executive Director Dan Delurey

“Speaking on behalf of ADS, we would welcome Utilimetrics' members,” Delurey said.  “Just like Utilimetrics had individual, as well as group memberships, we've got the same thing.”
Group saw much change
Utilimetrics followed the belief that “utilities and consumers must be closely linked to compel efficient and responsible energy and water management,” it told the press in July. The organization “supported the industry as it has progressed from manual meter reading to automatic meter reading -- to advanced technologies for metering.”

Utilimetrics' members included utilities, smart grid vendors, consulting firms, regulatory agencies, investment analysts and research organizations, it said in July.

Barbera became executive director this year, Utilimetrics said in July.  “Although many people know Autovation …, they may not know we also offer members free webcasts on timely topics and that we are building an online knowledge center to include smart grid definitions, a glossary and Autovation proceedings,” he said in July in prepared remarks.

© 2012 Modern Markets Intelligence Inc..  IMPORTANT: This article was reproduced from the December 20, 2020 issue of Smart Grid Today with the limited permission of the owner.  To view the full story on Smart Grid Today’s website, please visit http://www.smartgridtoday.com/public/Bedrock_element_of_the_industry_ltbrgtlost_as_Utilimetrics_dissolves.cfm.


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