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DistribuTECH Recap

Stuart McCafferty

Even though DistribuTECH is now 3 weeks behind us, I thought I would leave some quick impressions of my experience in New Orleans.

  1. DERMS:  Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems were the stars of the show.  Monday started off with SEPA’s workshop on DERMS requirements.  The focus was on operations only and did not delve into the oncoming Distribution System Operator (DSO) roles that include a Distribution Market Operator (DMO).  The inevitable emergence of distribution markets will obviously throw a wrinkle in how the DERMS systems will need to be integrated with DSO systems.  DERMS solutions are still immature and require a lot of care and feeding to integrate with DMS and SCADA systems.  But, nonetheless, if you spent time in the exhibition hall, you couldn’t help but notice all the DERMS signs hanging from vendor booths EVERYWHERE.  We are still not where we need to be to automate DER interconnect and add to the operational and market mix.
  2. Blockchain:  I spent half a day on Tuesday as a guest speaker at a training session by the Energy Blockchain Consortium.  I got a few rolled eyes when I told some of my friends I was going to the meeting.  It’s ok, I used to get the same reaction when evangelizing Smart Grid in the early 2000’s.  Bottom line is that blockchain is a viable technology that will find a use case that makes sense in our industry in the coming years.  Does it solve everything?  No, of course not.  But, when considering the features blockchain technology supports (distributed ledger, cryptography, provenance, consensus, decentralized control, trustless smart contract, crypto currency, and immutability), blockchain certainly has a future.  The training was excellent, led by Eamonn McCormick and supported by Tony Giroti, Mandakini Pahooja, Ward Camp, and myself.  If you’re interested in getting Blockchain Certified or in becoming a member of the Energy Blockchain Consortium, visit their website at
  3. OpenFMB:  The UCAIug OpenFMB user’s group kicked off on Wednesday.  The focus will be on creating conformance testing criteria and a test harness.  The NAESB OpenFMB standard will be updated to address some of the security enhancements and harmonization with IEC 61850.  The web site,, will get a makeover and updated opensource source code will be posted in GitHub.  Unfortunately, I missed Sierra Wireless’ AirLink MP70 cellular gateway live demonstration that will support OpenFMB capabilities, but it proves that OpenFMB is rapidly gaining traction as vendors and utilities seek grid edge distributed intelligence and a more dynamic, nimble grid.  I will be acting as the Vice Chair for the OpenFMB user’s group.  If you’re interested in learning more or joining, you can get more details at the website.
  4. New Orleans:  I’m not sure who made the decision to move the venue to New Orleans this year, but it was a FANTASTIC idea!  I had meetings Monday morning, so I arrived on Super Bowl Sunday.  Unfortunately, New Orleans fans were boycotting the Super Bowl and I had to watch it in our hotel instead of at one of the sports bars.  The construction around the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center was less than optimal, but I got my steps in every day I was there!  Anyway, I hope that the DistribuTECH Planning Committee will keep New Orleans in the venue rotation.  Always a fun place with great food, nice people, and good weather that time of year.
  5. New Players:  I was pleased to see some non-traditional vendors this year.  In fact, I spent quite a bit of time speaking with the Google/Nest folks.  Like many companies, they recognize that the industry is in transformation and there are new opportunities emerging that match up with their products and capabilities.  We are ripe for some disruption and we will continue to see different players creating new solutions and competing against traditional utility vendors.

Hope to see you again next year in San Antonio.

Stuart McCafferty's picture

Thank Stuart for the Post!

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Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on February 28, 2019

Thanks Stuart. I have a few questions:

Are there any standards bodies I.e. OASIS working on DERMS protocols? If so , what areas are they working on

Regarding blockchain, what areas are showing promise for a blockchain solution. I've seen some work on transactive energy, but are there other functions that looked promising?


Thanks Dick Brooks

Stuart McCafferty's picture
Stuart McCafferty on February 28, 2019

Hi Dick, great to hear from you!

I don't think we need any new protocols for DERMS.  We have so many already!  I believe that IEC 61850, OpenFMB, and IEEE 2030.5 are great semantic models for DERMS interoperability - and they are harmonized.  And, frankly, we need to get away from register-based command and control and start using modern rich information models instead.

On blockchain, there are several use cases being investigated in the Energy Blockchain Consortium:

  • Electrification of transportation and vehicle to grid integration
  • Energy trading and settlement with Power accounting
  • C&I DER integration
  • Integration of electricity bulk transaction with dIstributed utilty transactions
  • Smart mobility as a service for smart cities
  • GHG emissions tracking and reporting
  • Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) generation accounting, life-cycle traceability, reporting, and compliance

These are all in the early stages of vetting and development of the use cases.

Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on March 1, 2019

Thanks, Stuart.

I'm familiar with the standards initiative underway in NAESB for OpenFMB. I'm hoping to provide some useful insights with regard to WEQ-012, PKI application in OpenFMB.

Thanks for the info. Best regards, Dick.

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