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Modern Solutions Power Systems Conference—Themes

The Modern Solutions Power Systems Conference (MSPSC) is a place for visionaries, leaders, and people who keep asking “why.” Every conference focuses on a different theme, each building on the others, all interconnected and timeless. Regardless of the year, MSPSC themes are a testament of everything that came before and everything yet to come in the electric power industry.


We are nothing without our past. We have no sense of who we are, where we come from, or why we’re here. Remembering our past is not a step backwards; it’s a reminder of our duty to the public.

In 1913, Samuel Insull wished he could see 50 years in the future, envisioning “a vast distribution system, stretching from one end of the country to the other, wherever density of population justified it…a cooperation that will lead to a cost of energy so low as to place it within the reach of all.”

That day of achievement has come and gone. Those who came before us have set the foundation and given us a legacy. Now it’s our turn—how far will we go? This is the cornerstone idea behind MSPSC. As an industry, we need to move forward and carry on this legacy, united in our decisions, accomplishments, and vision.

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What is creativity? Where does it happen, and what does it look like? Creativity is a phenomenon that happens in the mind of the individual. There is no checklist—no process. It’s messy. Chaotic. At times, an endless cycle of challenge and frustration. But it’s also one of the most important aspects of innovation and progress.

The creative spark may happen in the mind of the individual, but it is the result of that person’s life experiences, materials, knowledge, perspective, and way of thinking.

That’s why we invite people from all industries to MSPSC: so we can discuss, collaborate, and expose our minds to new life experiences. When we leave, we take with us the seeds of inspiration and ideas to carry our industry forward.

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If there was ever a seemingly elusive yet elegant concept, it would be the idea of simplicity. It’s something we all want, but many don’t trust it, even when we’re staring it in the face. “It can’t be that simple, right?”

It can. That doesn’t mean simplicity will or should look the same way it did 50 years ago—we have so many more capabilities, rules and regulations, data, and demands on performance than we ever have before. But as Edison famously said, “If you can’t explain what you’re doing to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

So, how do we find simplicity in the midst of all this complexity? By learning to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. That’s where you see all the paths interconnect, spot the gaps, and find the answer.

That’s one of the great values of MSPSC. It gathers people together from all these paths and allows them to take that step back and look at their reality as part of the bigger picture. It is only with this kind of viewpoint that simplicity emerges through the chaos.

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What do customers want? Throughout the decades, the answer hasn’t changed: They want the best possible service at the lowest possible price. It’s true of customers in any industry, but especially in electric power.

The electric power industry performs in a way that no other industry can match. We protect and control electric power moving at the speed of light, and we deliver it at the flick of a switch—instantaneously. This type of performance is an obligation we have to the public. If we can’t consistently deliver that type of performance, we fail.

It’s a standard of operation that calls for us to continually look for ways to improve, trip faster, and push the limits of modern power systems. We are in the business of saving milliseconds. The less time it takes to safely trip and clear a fault, the more power we can transmit to more feeders that goes to more homes, businesses, and services.

That’s why, at MSPSC, we ask the tough questions, challenge each other, and push the limits of our industry’s performance.

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As soon as electricity is added to someone’s life, they are changed forever. There aren’t many other industries that can make such a claim about their impact. And when that electricity is dependable, the effect is enormous, improving quality of life, education, health, safety, and more.

The electric power industry has reached a level of dependability that almost surpasses the actual meaning. Many of us today could not live without electricity; it is literally integrated into our lives, our routines, and our actions without a second thought. The fact that most people can take electricity for granted—that they can flip a switch and not even consider the possibility of electricity not arriving instantaneously—is a testament to how far we’ve come.

This is what our customers expect. So how do we continue delivering this level of dependability, especially when there will always be challenges in the form of new technologies, aging assets, regulations, cyber threats, and more? As part of the electric power industry, it is our responsibility to find these answers. That’s what MSPSC is here for: so we can come together and figure out how to ensure that peoples’ lives receive the positive effects of dependable electric power.

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2017—First Principles

What makes electric power systems work? How is it that we’ve come this far as an industry? First Principles.

All great ideas, the ones that prove through time to be durable and sound, are grounded in the fundamentals. These fundamentals can manifest in the form of the basic physics of power systems, the way we approach a challenge, or even the way we think about our responsibility as engineers to the public. Have we found the root of the problem or should we keep asking “why?” Is the present solution really the best way, or is there another angle we haven’t considered? What are our constraints, both real and perceived?

The answers to all of these questions are found in our First Principles. Remembering them helps keep us on the right path: providing the best possible service at the lowest possible price. And if we want to continue on this path into a future of stability and innovation, then our understanding of power systems and the way they work must be based on First Principles.

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When someone talks about service, many people think of and stop at customer service. However, true service is more expansive and goes deeper than that simple phrase.

Service is about bringing convenience to people’s lives, making them feel comfortable and safe whether that’s in a hotel, a business transaction, a process, or their own home. There might be no greater overlooked comfort today than the experience of reliable electric power—always ready, whenever you want it.

In the electric power industry, true service means providing what the customer wants and expects, establishing and keeping relationships, maintaining quality products, and instilling trust. Most critically, service means solving the difficult problems so that we can experience a better world.

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