The TechAdvantage Experience has gone online for 2021, but NRECA and dozens of its industry partners have spent months refining a program designed to take on the operational challenges facing electric cooperatives.

“Co-ops rely on so much more than just poles and wires to serve their members,” said Mary Ackleson, an NRECA senior program manager. “The TechAdvantage Experience gives co-ops opportunities to learn more about products and services for advanced metering, communications, distribution automation, and emergency preparedness and response.”

Scheduled over four days in two consecutive weeks—Feb. 23–24 and March 2–3—the TechAdvantage Experience will be combined with PowerXchange, NRECA’s 79th annual meeting.

“The global pandemic has raised ongoing safety and health concerns related to large gatherings, so out of an abundance of caution, we’ve created these as virtual events for 2021,” said Tracey Steiner, NRECA’s senior vice president of education, training and events. “We’ve reimagined the annual meeting to be future-focused, with more interactive sessions and a schedule better aligned with TechAdvantage for those who want to explore that event. We’ve designed these online events in tandem to appeal to our traditional attendees and attract new participants from across the cooperative network.”

Both events have overlapping programming and sessions offered for a combined registration fee, making it attractive for co-ops to sign up a broader range of employees and board members. Among the topics tailored for joint presentation are sessions on leadership and team building with an emphasis on resilience and enhancing community ties.

The TechAdvantage Experience will include a virtual expo and presentations on broadband, cybersecurity, data analytics, distribution automation, and vendor management.

“The expo’s core mission is to bring co-ops and suppliers together face to face. The virtual expo will allow us to do that but do it differently,” said Eric Commodore, NRECA’s director of meeting and event planning.

The presentation platform and format for the TechAdvantage Experience has been designed to give exhibitors and co-op decision-makers attending both NRECA events ample time to connect, Commodore added.

“The Expo will allow attendees and exhibitors to interact through virtual booth chats and pre-scheduled meetings, participate in product demonstrations and trainings, and discover the latest innovations in the industry,” he said.

Jake Wood, co-founder and CEO of Team Rubicon, will deliver the keynote address for the TechAdvantage opening general session.

“We’ll also be hearing from leaders within the co-op network on their experiences in successfully serving their communities during the pandemic,” Ackleson added. “They’ll be sharing some of the lessons learned that are likely to help shape co-op responses during future emergencies.”