They have a saying in Denver – “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” While that is clearly an exaggeration, it’s not too far off from what the city’s residents and visitors might experience on any given day in the Mile-High City. And since it was the destination of this year’s 13th annual ISO/RTO/TSO Forecasting Summit, May 7-9, attendees from most of the North American and Australian ISO/RTO/TSO organizations got a taste of how volatile the weather can be sometimes. For example, at the start of the week, the weather was fairly mild as I saw people roaming the streets of downtown in t-shirts and shorts. However, by the end of the week, it was snowing with a bit of rain and cold wind.

While the mercurial weather taught us to expect the unexpected, the engaging presentations and discussions during the summit showed us how forecasters across this rapidly evolving industry are addressing the many pervasive challenges surrounding growing distributed generation (DG), granular load forecasting, long-term load forecasting, and weather and load forecast accuracy.

With increased DG from both renewable and non-renewable technologies, organizations are continually exploring methods of gaining visibility into DG in their service territories. Consequently, one of the big challenges has become determining a superior approach for integrating it into a load forecast. Many attendees shared their experiences using common practices such as load reconstitution and direct modeling and discussed the pros and cons of load forecasting at more granular levels.

In a world where the pressure to produce more accurate load forecasts is the highest it’s ever been, forecasters are perpetually looking to improve the performance of their statistical models. Attendees offered insight into the approaches and tools they’re using to improve forecast performance, and also demonstrated how load forecasters might be able to mitigate the impact of weather forecast error.

Finally, the load implications associated with the growing saturation of electric vehicle charging and cryptocurrency mining—among other items—was also a popular topic of discussion, as organizations look ahead to better understand the impact of these activities on system loads.

With so many of the brightest minds in the industry in one room, one could say the level of expertise was a “mile-high”. That’s certainly a trend that I’d like to see continue to grow.

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David Simons
Senior Forecast Consultant - Itron
David Simons is a Forecast Consultant with Itron’s Forecasting Division. Since joining Itron in 2013, Simons has assisted in the support and implementation of Itron’s short-term load forecasting solutions for GRTgaz, Hydro Tasmania, IESO, New York ISO, California ISO, Midwest ISO, Potomac Electric Power Company, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, Bonneville Power Administration and Hydro-Québec. He has also assisted Itron’s Forecasting Division in research and development of forecasting methods and end-use analysis. Prior to joining Itron, Simons conducted empirical research, performed operations analysis and data management for a nonprofit, and lectured in economics at San Diego State University while pursuing his master’s degree. Some of his empirical research includes examining the behavioral factors that influence educational attainment in adolescents and the environmental implications of cross-border integration. Simons received a B.A. in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an M.A. in Economics from San Diego State University.