DTECH 2024: To Propel the Digitization of the Grid, Seek Out Expert Partners for Solutions


Digitization of the grid is a significant undertaking that requires a community of experts to come together to solve challenges and make strides that will benefit an entire industry.

The utility industry is currently on the brink of a revolution, much like the one that redefined telecommunications at the turn of the century. Electrification, decarbonization, and decentralization are rapidly becoming more than just buzzwords; they’re the new pillars on which the future of energy hinges. Digital transformation, ushering in the use of AI and IoT, redefines how grids operate and how they’re managed and secured against modern threats. The customer is now a central figure, not a passive consumer, expecting sustainable, efficient energy solutions tailor-made through data analytics. For the utility industry of the future, the digitization of the grid must be agile, technologically adept, and open to innovation through collaboration and partnerships.

Andrew Bordine, the Grid Automation Practice Head at Actalent, is navigating this labyrinth of innovation and new technologies. Speaking with MarketScale from DISTRIBUTECH 2024, Bordine embodies the very essence of this shift. His insights from his organization’s work and its extensive collaboration with various utilities illuminate the best practices for an industry learning to share its toys in the sandbox of digitization and data-driven solutions. As utilities increasingly require external expertise to modernize, Bordine’s expertise becomes invaluable—not only for what Actalent can do but also for the shared industry knowledge he brings.

Andrew’s Thoughts

“Actalent is a global leader in engineering and sciences services, and talent solutions. My name is Andrew Bordine. I’m a senior practice manager here at Actalent, and I’m here to represent our T&D operation at DISTRIBUTECH. There’s this evolution that’s happening in the utilities industry. The digitization of the grid is how it’s referred to. So, if you look out across the floor today, it’s primarily driven by new technologies, being able to see the grid in real-time through either software implementation. You’re seeing AI sprinkled in a little bit now. The industry needs to see how the grid operates in real-time, twenty-four-seven. The tools are starting to come into place. You’re seeing that here. But there’s something that is new to the industry too.”

Industry Evolution and External Expertise

“You don’t have the seasoned professional that’s maybe been sitting in the chair for thirty years that knows the ins and outs of everything related to, let’s say, setting up a private wireless network for utility. Utilities are finding that they need to reach out to external parties that have that expertise in order to make a good, valued business decision on what their path forward is. So, one of the things that we’re able to help with directly is, as they’re looking to fill that space with an expert that can help them on their journey, we’re there to help provide that. One of the things that a lot of our clients find of value is that we do work for them specifically, yes, but we also have a range of utilities we’re working with.

Our ability to look at best practices for the industry and say, “Hey, this worked over here. This not so much.” Any utilities’ willingness to say, “Hey, what are you seeing? What’s working well? What is it?” That’s been a great fit for us to kind of pull that together not only in a format that they can use and understand, but something that has some industry best practices baked into that. That hopefully gets them further than they would by themselves.”

Collaboration in the Utility Sector

“One of the great things about being part of the utility sector is that there isn’t a lot of competition. You’ll find it to be, you know, kind of one of the more freeing organizations. There’s a lot of collaboration. Coming to an event like this is sort of like a family reunion sometimes. So, what you’ll find is a lot of utilities; they want to work together whether they’re doing research and development that everyone is then going to use and be a part of the benefit of, or just, you know, spitballing an idea with one of your neighbor utilities on, hey, what’s best practice, or what are you seeing relating to this type of topic, ABC? That’s one of the things that makes this industry so exciting to be a part of. It’s open collaboration.”

Article by James Kent

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