html{display:none} Experience MSPSC 2018 | Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories

The Modern Solutions Power Systems Conference (MSPSC) is where people share their ideas, challenges, and successes about the most critical issues facing modern power systems. Scroll down for video highlights from the 2018 event.

In 2018, our conference theme was Service. Service brings us together and has many dimensions: compassion, professionalism, performance, timeliness, military service, emergency service, and electric power service.

Electric power service is fundamental to all aspects of our daily lives today because it is safe, reliable, economical, and always ready to serve us at the flick of a switch and at the speed of light.

During the event, we took a deep look at service in all its forms and how we can use this concept to improve our modern power systems.

“Our industry’s product is a service at the price of a commodity.”
Dr. Edmund O. Schweitzer, III, on the Roots of Service

Function or Purpose: What Role Do Your Employees Serve

Chairs fulfill functions; humans need a dream, says legendary hotelier and 2018 keynote speaker Horst Schulze. He claims companies with poor customer service unknowingly exclude employees from the company vision. Mr. Schulze states that all people subconsciously expect three things when they buy a product: they want it to be defect free, they want it to be timely, and they want people to be nice to them. The last part is monumental. Someone has to care. Providing that aspect of customer service consistently starts with how we treat our employees. Do they have a purpose? Or are they simply another cog in the machine?

“Human beings want to have purpose.”
Horst Schulze on Creating a Culture of Service

Disaster Relief—Putting Society Back Together

Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires—these weather phenomena are natural parts of our world with unfortunate effects on our lives and industry’s service. In today’s time, we are lucky to be able to predict the arrival of major storms and make preparation plans.

However, the recurring theme during this discussion was that, at some point, plans go wrong. With the unpredictability of weather, this isn’t surprising. Even two of the same weather events can manifest in completely different ways. Bob Roy of CenterPoint Energy said that Hurricane Ike called for a lot of aerial devices and bucket trucks, while Hurricane Harvey called for airboats and anything that could float. One weather event, two vastly different relief needs and requirements.

Does this mean we should give up making future disaster plans? Absolutely not. It is because of planning and learning from our past experiences that our industry’s service restoration efforts have reduced from weeks to days. And along with these plans, we can prepare to be surprised. We must be ready for the unknowns, be flexible, and be able to adapt on the fly.

“You make the best plan, and then reality strikes.”
Bob Roy on Being Flexible in Emergencies
“The key is coordination, coordination, coordination.”
Colonel Kirk Bruno on the Importance of Coordination

IT, OT, and the Future of Cybersecurity

For decades, IT and OT security practices have existed side by side, often with OT being swept under the IT umbrella. It’s unfortunate that for years OT requirements and threats have been misunderstood, overlooked, or even unknown. Although IT and OT both operate in the cybersecurity field, that’s just about where the similarity ends.

As Annabelle Lee of Nevermore Security said, do not implement all the IT policies on the OT side. If email goes down, everyone cheers at the break from work. If that happens on the OT side, everyone loses power. The consequences are not comparable.

As the panel discussed, the future of OT security is not in the IT realm, although they may work closely together. It’s time to reset the structure, remove the complexity, and implement what’s best for the power industry.

“Defense is doable.”
Rob Lee on Defensible OT Environments
“Think like an attacker, but remember, not all attacks are malicious.”
Annabelle Lee on Augmenting the Defensive Paradigm
“Cybersecurity is an invisible threat, but it’s real.”
Steve Locke on Cyber Crime

The Relationship Between Regulators and Operators

Over the last few years, MSPSC attendees have had the opportunity to listen to NERC speakers discuss their role in the industry. It has been and continues to be an eye-opening experience for everyone involved and helps strengthen the relationships between these two critical sectors.

As we learned at the conference, NERC’s main objective is to collect data and learn from operators. During his presentation, keynote speaker Dr. James Merlo told the audience that it’s not a NERC violation to have a misoperation—it’s a NERC violation to not report it. This stems from their own responsibilities and obligations to make electric power service reliable and safe. They do this by gathering data so they can trend it, track it, learn from it, and share it.

“If you have unknown events and don’t care why, that’s not a healthy culture.”
Dr. James Merlo on NERC Standards and Self-Reporting
“We’re losing central reliability of services and fuel assurance.”
John Moura on Maintaining Reliability With a Changing Resource Mix
“NERC has to understand and address the changes we see happening.”
Dr. Ryan Quint on Reliability and Disturbance Analysis