IEEE REPC, MEMPHIS, MAY 06-08, 2018
The IEEE Rural Electric Power Conference exists to provide a platform for the exchange of pertinent and relevant technical knowledge within the rural electrical utility industry to the practicing utility engineer or technician that is working for a rural cooperative, an investor owned, or a municipal electric utility. Consulting engineers, manufacturers, and educators involved in medium and high voltage electric power system planning, design or component development are encouraged to engage in networking and to contribute with their knowledge on advanced technologies and application methods as part of the conference forum.
The Rural Electric Power Committee (REPC) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year. It has a long history of providing sound, usable technical information and networking for electric utilities that serve rural and suburban territory. The IEEE REPC was formed in 1956 by a group of engineers as a forum to share best practices for undertakings organized by that part of the electric utility that provides service for areas other than densely populated urban areas. Participants came from a variety of interests. Large IOUs sent engineers from their rural operating divisions. Other attendees were from smaller cooperative and municipal utilities that served no urban but maybe some suburban customers. Engineers attended from companies that provided products and services to these utilities. Engineering professors and students also attended to see today’s real world and to help explore tomorrow’s possibilities. Because of this diversity all REPC members stay abreast of actual performance of available technology from every viewpoint. Suburban and rural expansion has challenged suppliers of electricity providing service to areas that were in the boonies 60 years ago. REPC has evolved with the needs of the members.
This article intends to showcase how rural engineers are often at the forefront of technical developments; not “leading from behind.” This is possible because the atmosphere of teamwork and cooperation exists within the REPC. Conference attendees intentionally did not spend time trying to resolve political and/or legal controversies in the industry. Attendees understood they all faced similar engineering/operations challenges and could learn much from each other on those challenges while other utility employees dealt with non-technical issues.