Industry Sessions

Session 1: Digital Transformation for the Utilities

DAY 2: Thursday, 17 October, 14:00-15:30, Cartier I

Synopsis: Digitization of our world poses some threats but also tremendous opportunities. Our utilities that provide essential services can benefit from a digital strategy to help realize opportunities of offering enhanced level of services more efficiently with increased reliability.


  • Opening Remarks and Digital Transformation Strategies (20 min)
    Ahsan Upal, IEEE Industry Chair and Regional Manager, Burns & McDonnell
  • Applying AI to Reduce Barriers to Renewables Integration (20 min)
    Sal Gill, P. Eng., Manager, Global Business Development, ABB
  • Digital Transformation for the Utilities (20 min)
    Kaliyur Sridharan, Senior Director, Schneider Electric Canada
  • Q/A Panel Discussion Moderated by Ahsan Upal


Session 2: Weather Hardening our Energy Supply

DAY 3: Friday, 18 October, 09:00-10:30, Cartier I

Synopsis: The impact of weather events to our utility services such as electricity supply is undeniable, whether it is the recent Quebec ice storms, tornadoes in Ottawa or floods in Calgary the disruption caused by severe weather to our quality of life and our economies requires mitigation strategies to be able to design systems that are resilient and emergency responses quicker and focused. Some of these strategies will be presented on how our utilities can harden their systems to reduce the impact.


  • Opening Remarks (5 min)
    Ahsan Upal, IEEE Industry Chair
  • Weather Hardening Strategies (20 min)
    Ahsan Upal, Regional Manager, Burns & McDonnell
  • Storm Hardening in the Midst of Energy Transition Case Studies: City of Fairfield (CT, US) and Camuy Hatillo (Puerto Rico) (30 min)
    Jesus Enrique Vargas, Energy Automation Solution Architect, Schneider Electric
  • Q/A Panel Discussion Moderated by Ahsan Upal (30 min)


Speaker Biographies

Ahsan Upal, P.Eng. PMP

Industry Session Coordinator, EPEC 2019
IEEE Industry Chair and Business Development Manager
Burns & McDonnell

Biography: Ahsan is the national business development leader with Burns & McDonnell, an EPC engineering firm specializing in all aspects of power generation, transmission and distribution, storage and renewables as well as in aviation, water and pipelines with 50 offices globally including in Calgary and Toronto.

Ahsan has 19 years of experience in Canada/US in engineering and projects leadership roles with an electrical transformer manufacturer, major electric and oil/gas pipeline utilities and consulting firms executing major infrastructure projects in power, pipelines and utility telecommunication networks. Ahsan worked with AltaLink managing transmission projects in northern Alberta, with Enbridge leading development and execution of Canadian pipeline expansion projects and then consulted to the AESO on the 500kV Fort McMurray West Transmission project before joining Burns & McDonnell nearly five years ago.

Ahsan is an electrical systems engineer and serves as board chair at Fruty Cup, a new concept Calgary ice cream parlor and previously served on boards at The Alex Community Health and IPCAA in Calgary and is the national chair of Industry at IEEE Canada. Ahsan is an active member of the Canadian Electricity Association, Ontario and Calgary Chambers and IPPSA where is active.


Sal Gill, P. Eng.

Manager, Global Business Development at ABB

Biography: Sal Gill heads global business development for ABB Power Consulting, advising utility companies globally on how to adapt to the continuously evolving energy ecosystem transformation. Through providing holistic consulting services, Sal has developed strategies to help clients optimize capital investment plans and decision-making frameworks, targeting the digitalization, decarbonization, and decentralization domains of the industry.

As concepts such as IoT, artificial intelligence, and advanced analytics evolve into endless business capabilities, Sal proactively assists clients to utilize these monumental shifts to reduce gaps between energy and utility companies and their customers. His most recent innovations in the digitalization space have garnered significant funding grants by major government agencies in North America and Europe, studying applications in utility networks in partnership with major investor owned electric utilities. 

Prior to joining ABB, Sal was with S&C Electric Company as its Manager of Strategic Planning, reporting to its Executive Chairman and CEO. Prior to S&C, Sal lead the regional sales management organization in Canada with Hubbell Power Systems. Sal received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has an MBA with a focus in Strategy & Finance from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. He has authored several technical papers in the utility industry and is a licensed professional engineer in the province of Ontario, Canada.


Kaliyur Sridharan, Senior Director – Growth Programs

Schneider Electric Canada

Biography: Kaliyur Sridharan is the Senior Director – Growth Programs at Schneider Electric. He is a senior industry professional with deep insights to strategically plan, direct, and convert company products and solutions portfolio into rapid commercialization for global adoption in Utility and Industrial Automation segment.  Prior to joining Schneider Electric, Kaliyur had led cross functional team globally and has decades of global experience working at ABB and GE.

Kaliyur has undergraduate degrees in physics and electrical engineering and a graduate degree in Process Control and Instrumentation.  He is a certified six-sigma green belt and a registered professional engineer.


Jesus Enrique Vargas

Energy Automation Solution Architect, Schneider Electric

Biography: Jesus Vargas is presently Energy Automation Solution Architect for Schneider Electric Canada. Jesus has over 19 years’ experience in electrical automation.

He received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and joined Alstom T&D’s Protection and Control team under an expertise program in Lattes, France.

Later, supported different stages of electrical protection and control projects in multiple regions (Europe, South America and North America) from conception to commissioning, serving various segments like Electrical Utilities, O&G, MMM, IPPs, Hospitals, etc.

In 2010 joined Schneider Electric Canada’s Energy Automation Center to manage the tendering activity to serve Canada, US and Mexico’s.

Most recently has been supporting the implementation of Smart Grid technologies for microgrids on Electrical Utilities, electro-intensive and electro-sensitive facilities.