Redlands, California- Seminars, speeches, and hallway conversations devoted to Smart Grid, renewable energy, and the Web at ESRI's 2008 Electric & Gas User Group (EGUG) Conference signify that utilities are preparing for big changes.

The conference, held October 19–23 in Indian Wells, California, brought together representatives from 100 utilities with ESRI industry experts and business partners. This year's theme, Riding the Winds of Change, embraced industry challenges ranging from increased regulation and renewable initiatives to outage management and online customer service. Through workshops and sessions, attendees explored how geographic information system (GIS) technology benefits utilities in crucial areas with spatial data management, server-based GIS, and mobile solutions.

"The general impression from utility members is that we made a lot of progress," EGUG president Ted Kircher said. "The EGUG Conference gave utilities a renewed passion to develop broad ideas in GIS such as Smart Grid technology and compliance."

Keynote speaker Clint Brown, ESRI's director of software products, emphasized the value of geographic information collected by utilities and shared ideas on how to use that data to the fullest advantage through enterprise GIS and Web 2.0.

"The new application programming interfaces, or APIs, available with ArcGIS Server 9.3 provide a rapid development framework for creating, deploying, and managing enterprise mashups," Brown said. "GIS-based services and applications can deliver portal-like access to internal information resources and enhance the accuracy and reliability of decision making as well as extend the range of what a mashup can do. Enterprise mashups reduce dependency on services that are external to the utility."

The next EGUG Conference is set for fall 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information on EGUG and to view presentations and technology updates, visit

To listen to podcasts on GIS for renewable energy or GIS and the Smart Grid, visit