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A New Experience at our 2018 Executive Advisory Council Retreat

An intimate networking opportunity, the Summer UAI Executive Advisory Council Retreat was an event like none other experienced by UAI members thus far. The Retreat was designed to foster teamwork and knowledge sharing with a focus on fun.

Hosted by Tennessee Valley Authority in Chattanooga, utility analytics leaders spent July 18th through the 20th at TVA headquarters connecting and collaborating in a laid back yet productive environment where they focused on common analytics strategy challenges, growing analytics programs, strengthening leadership skills, and the latest in utility innovation.

Capitalizing on what’s happening in utility innovations, Day 1 featured “Innovation Shares” – three-slide presentations spotlighting the utility’s analytics innovation in just 10 minutes. Innovation Shares like “Enhanced Grid Operations Short Terms Load Forecasting: A Journey Toward a Distribution State Estimator” and “Weather Normalization Improvement Using Machine Learning” were fast-paced yet concise, keeping everyone’s attention and intrigue, and spurring a quick (five-minute) yet robust round of Q&A.

Participants revered the “short timeframe” and “to the point nature” of the Innovation Shares.

“[The Innovation Shares were] probably my favorite part of the retreat,” said Hagen Haentsch, Director Distribution Operating Center West, Oncor. “Each of them was very open, substantive and applicable. It truly triggered valuable thoughts on action items on my part.”

Day 2 was highly interactive and hands-on, as attendees participated in a full-day IBM-hosted Design Thinking Workshop focused on solving business challenges that Retreat participants themselves identified. The goal of the workshop was to be able to deliver value to customers faster by generating ideas faster; designing, evaluating and testing those ideas faster; and developing code faster. Participants closed the workshop with actionable ideas and solutions to their business challenges that they can take back to their organizations and apply.

Day 3 wrapped up with a tour of TVA’s System Operations Center (SOC) – the “nucleus” of TVA transmission operations – where around-the-clock, real-time calculations are performed to ensure safe and reliable power delivery 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

A dedicated team of experienced professionals facing a “full-system mimic board” depicting the TVA transmission system through circuitry and software, as well as more than 30 computing systems, monitor and evaluate everything from news, weather and historical data to real-time updates in order to balance load and generation by determining the most efficient and economical source of power (nuclear, fossil, hydroelectric, pumped storage, gas or oil combustion turbines, cogeneration plants, industrial generators and/or the purchase of power from outside providers) at any given time.

The TVA SOC is the largest of its kind in North America, ensuring power is delivered to 158 distributors to provide service for 9 million residential, commercial and industrial customers in seven states. TVA’s current performance is within first quartile industry performance (99.999% reliability) equal to 7.8 system minutes of LNS (Load Not Served).

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