Western Protective Relay Conference 2017

Jonathan Sykes

Jonathan Sykes is the Senior Manager of System Protection at PG&E, headquartered in San Francisco. Jonathan received his academic training from the University of Arizona in 1982 and worked at Salt River Project, in Phoenix for more than 25 years before joining PG&E in 2009. He is a Professionally Licensed Electrical Engineer and Senior member of IEEE. 

Jonathan has helped pave the path to introduction of technology where grid modernization and system reliability reach equilibrium, for more than 16 million customers in Northern California. 

Jonathan believes that knowledge needs to be shared and success is a result of collaboration. In the early 1990s, Jonathan led a team to provide the first integrated protective relay/RTU/SCADA systems in Arizona. In the early 2000s, his team implemented one of the first wide area “GOOSE” systems in the world and his PG&E team is now co-sponsoring the next generation, routable GOOSE (R-GOOSE). 

Today, Jonathan’s teams are developing new techniques and processes as the grid changes to inverter based renewable power production. This requires his team to be engaged in emerging technologies such as synchrophasors, travelling wave and artificial intelligent applications. His team also developed new concepts in the area of Asset Life Cycle Management. Jonathan leads a strong team of internationally recognized experts, Fellows of IEEE and distinguished lecturers, with extensive knowledge in System Protection and advanced power system dynamics.


"The Ever Changing World of Protection and Control"

Our beloved industry is experiencing change more now than any other time except possibly in the beginning when we were deciding between AC or DC power and we were converting the gas lamps of the 1880s to electric, along the streets of our cities. We know that the electric industry was the catalyst for improvement and opportunity across the world and set in motion a series of technological innovations that launched an ever increasing revolution of ideas and inventions. 

The electric industry was built with cautious and deliberate steps over the past 100 plus years but now we find ourselves in a “wild west” where anything goes. We must understand what is driving the change and what this change will do to the wires and transformers, but also the core values of reliability, safety and affordability that were used to create the largest machine in history, the electric grid. We must understand what our customers want, but also provide what they need and therein lies the dilemma. We need new models that can predict how the inverter based power production will impact stability and challenge the traditional techniques we relied on to protect the grid. 

PG&E in California is in the middle of this change and is seeing an impact to our field teams, engineering applications and business models. I am confident that the same fortitude of the people that built the industry will once again step up and bridge the “now” to the “end game” of this change and technology will be our holy grail. It is venues like WPRC that are necessary to share ideas and build collaboration to be successful for we all know, we succeed as a team.