What do the first McDonald's, the only river in the world that flows backwards, and the 2004 Power Quality Exhibition and Conference have in common? Drum roll please — they're all in Chicago! The Windy City is set to host this year's Power Quality Show, which will be co-located with the Power Electronics Technology Exhibition and Conference at Chicago's Navy Pier Nov. 16 through Nov. 18, with professional advancement courses on Nov. 14 and Nov. 15. The joint events are called PowerSystems World. Organizers have labeled it “the premiere event for power quality and power electronic technology professionals,” and considering all it has to offer, you'll probably agree. Nearly 3,000 attendees and 215 exhibiting companies have already signed up to attend PowerSystems World 2004, which makes it the best place to see the latest products and equipment, learn from industry experts, and most importantly, learn from your peers.

With increasing demands on a strained electrical grid, unplanned blackouts, and terrorism threats in the back of everyone's mind, distributed generation has become a hot-button issue in the power quality industry. More and more companies are turning to on-site generation systems to ensure the reliability of their power, and more manufacturers are developing equipment to meet this need. If you feel like you and your employees need to learn more about this topic, the Power Quality Show is a great place to start. There will be a special section of the Exhibit Hall dedicated to the Distributed Generation Pavilion. This is a place for manufacturers and suppliers of distributed generation products and equipment like microturbines, reciprocating engines, fuel cells, photovoltaic systems, and wind turbines to exhibit and demonstrate their products. There will also be two educational sessions that will cover distributed generation technologies, communication, and control.

Educational sessions are one of the many benefits of attending a conference, and this year the Power Quality Show will offer 27 classes that cover everything from reliability to the state of wind generation. As if that weren't enough, this year's event will feature two keynote speakers. Kurt Yeager, president of EPRI, and Patrixio Vinviarelli, CEO and president of Vicor Corp., will speak at the 8:30 a.m. session on Nov. 16.

In a presentation titled, “Power Quality and Reliability in the 21st Century,” Yeager will address the status of electric reliability in North America and the power quality industry's role in supporting the nation's infrastructure. Vinviarelli's address titled, “Where Should the ‘Buck’ Stop?” will cover how new power conversion engines can overcome the limitations of non-isolated point-of-load “buck” converters. Following the keynote addresses, attendees have the chance to sit in on two award presentations. The first-ever Power Electronics Technology Lifetime Achievement award and the John Mungenast International Power Quality award will be presented to two individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the power quality field, and unlike those stuffy award shows on TV, we won't cue the music to cut them off.

Like we said earlier, attending this conference is a great way to learn from industry experts, and at the “Current Issues in Power Quality” session at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 10, you'll have a chance to learn from one of the greats. Mark McGranaghan, vice president of consulting services for EPRI-PEAC, will discuss issues facing electric utilities and industrial and commercial customers like advances in monitoring technology to make characterizing power quality issues easier, taking advantage of the Internet to provide power quality services, and coordinating power quality issues with energy efficiency initiatives.

Every successful business has a plan, no matter what the area of expertise. The “Power Quality as a Business” session at 2 p.m. on Nov. 16 is for those interested in entering the power quality field or those who want to expand their already established business. Anthony Hoevenaars, Mirus International, will talk about how to create a winning business model; employ effective marketing techniques; and attract, hire, and keep qualified employees.

A new addition to this year's show will be a free session at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 18 featuring the past winners of the John Mungenast award. The panel members will discuss their views on the state of the power quality and reliability industries, including the role of renewables, distributed generation, and new control and communications technologies. In addition, the panel members will weigh in on where they feel the industry is headed in regards to these technologies. Q&A time will be made available at the end of the session for members of the audience to pose questions to this “who's who” panel of experts.

Without a doubt, PowerSystems World, and especially the Power Quality Show is the premier event for power quality professionals. In as few as five days, you can attend professional advancement courses, visit the Exhibit Hall to learn about new equipment, listen to industry experts talk about important power quality issues, and meet others in the industry. Think of it as five days to a better business. For more information, visit www.powersystems.com.