In all 150 people from about 50 organizations attended. Speakers included General Electric director of technical strategy John McDonald, Smart Grid consumer collaborative executive director Patty Durand, State Rep. John Hink, Laney Brown and Brian Conroy from Central Maine Power.
Mohamed Musavi, an electrical and computer engineering professor at the University explained to the Bangor Daily News that the conference’s objective was to give consumers and companies a general idea on how to use their electricity more efficiently. “The next step is to make not only the power utilities transmit economically, but also [for] the consumers to use electricity in an economical way. The objective of this conference is to make the vision of the smart grid come true.”
Kendra Overlock of Bangor Hydro Electric Co said the conference was an effective way to communicate with their customers. “It’s going to take an effort of getting feedback from customers about what they really want to see on our website. We want to hear from customers, using social media.”
The utility representatives encouraged consumers to conserve energy in their homes. Musavi added to the Bangor News, “They were talking about providing more information to the users on how to use their electricity when it’s cheaper and therefore changing people’s habits so they can pay less for their consumption. Consumers’ participation is a big part of this whole operation, and we’re hoping the people can get involved in this process”
Overlock added: “As you make choices of things that you do in your home, you can go online and see what the impacts of those choices are. That’s part of understanding your usage pattern.”
Musavi also expressed optimism that students who attended the conference came away with a better understanding of why the smart grid is important. “Students are the building blocks of not only our education but our research and development.”
The conference was funded with support from the Haskell Professorship in UMaine’s electrical and computer engineering department and the Maine IEEE Chapter of the Power and Energy Society.