Annual Meeting (Sep 18-20)

This three-day event brings together the West’s natural gas and electric utility executive community to encourage discussion and foster new opportunities. Learn from subject matter experts regarding imminent opportunities and the challenges pressing utilities to adapt and flex in uncharted territories for best-in-class utility management. Topics covered in recent years include customer relations, global economic insights, new business models for utilities in a carbon constrained world, opportunities and challenges of big data, energy supply and demand forecasting, and visions for the utility of the future. This meeting coincides with the semi-annual WEI Board Meeting and the Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders team presentations.

General Details

Program Chair
Greg Reimer
BC Hydro

Program Location
Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver
900 Canada Place Way
Vancouver, BC V6C 3L5

Who Should Attend
• Energy industry executives
• WEI Board of Directors
• Executive Planning Committees
• Service company providers
• Senior management professionals

For more information contact Anna Sanger Reed at 503.688.2795.

Registration Options
Member: $999 USD
Regular: $1,899 USD
Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders Program Participant: No cost

Registration prices increase $100 USD after August 19. Registration includes meeting materials, 1 reception, 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 breaks, Business Acumen final presentations (Session 5), and dinner on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Guest passes are available for $299 USD and includes 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 breaks, Business Acumen final presentations (Session 5), and dinner on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders Program Participant registration is limited to participants of the 2016 Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders Course. Registration includes comprehensive meeting materials, all Annual Meeting sessions, and receptions and meals each day, including the reception and dinner sponsored by the WEI Service Companies on Monday. Guest passes are available for $299 USD and includes 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 breaks, Business Acumen final presentations (Session 5), and dinner on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.


Sunday, September 18

7:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Optional Networking
Golf, Brewery Tour and Granville Island Tour

3:30 PM – 4:15 PM
Executive Committee Meeting
Committee members only

4:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Board Meeting
Committee members only

5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Annual Meeting Welcome Reception
Sponsored by:
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Annual Meeting Welcome Dinner
Open to all attendees. Dinner will be onsite after welcome reception (This dinner is separate from the Board of Directors private dinner).
Sponsored by:
7:00 PM
WEI Board of Directors Dinner
Transportation provided at 6:45 PM.
By invitation only. Sponsored by:
Burns + McDonnell-01

Monday, September 19

8:00 AM – 8:30 AM
Annual Meeting Opening + Breakfast
Speaker: Greg Reimer, EVP, Transmission, Distribution & Customer Service, BC Hydro

8:30 AM – 9:30 AM
Keynote Address Presentation
Speaker: Nick Bilton, Special Correspondent at Vanity Fair, Former Lead Technology Writer for the New York Times and Acclaimed Author
WEI’s members have been assessing disruptive technologies and the consequences to their business model for several years. Each acknowledges that customer expectations are changing rapidly as technologies evolve.  Mr. Bilton has been analyzing the effects of changing technology and has been recognized for his views and predictions.   Mr. Bilton will provide his contemporary thoughts and will challenge us to think about what is next.

9:30 AM – 9:45 AM

9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
Western Energy Market Panel
Moderator: Deborah Affonsa, Vice President, Customer Service, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Panelists: Steve Berberich, President & CEO, California ISO
Ron Nichols, President, Southern California Edison
Pat Reiten, President and Chief Executive Officer, PacifiCorp Transmission
Kevin Yates, President, Energy Management Division, Siemens
Building on a newly formed imbalance market now operating across multiple states in the west, a broad collection of stakeholders are now discussing the market design and governance of an expanded integrated system operator which would administer hour and day ahead markets.  The panel will discuss the issues and prospects surrounding PacifiCorp and the California ISO’s proposed market integration and what it means for reliability, emissions, the integration of renewable generation, and efficient generation management for customers in the West for near term and long term.

10:45 AM – 11:00 AM

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Forecast of Canadian and US Economy
Speaker: Dr. Sherry Cooper, Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
A hotly debated issue in the 2016 presidential election has been the US and world economy. Stock and bond markets have been volatile for some time.  Dr. Cooper will provide her thoughts on both the US and Canadian economies and her projections for the future.

12:00 PM – 1:45 PM
Lunch – Who’s Going to Win the U.S. Election
Speaker: Steve Schmidt, Vice Chairman of Public Affairs, Edelman
The 2016 political campaign for president has been different than any campaign in recent history. Steve has been involved in analyzing and commenting on this election from the beginning. Steve will share his views on the process and his forecast of the outcome.
Lunch sponsored by:
1:45 PM – 2:00 PM

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Market Insights Affecting Our Businesses
Moderator: Robert Rowe, President and CEO, NorthWestern Energy
Panelists: Tim Porter, Utilities Strategy Managing Director, Accenture
Brian Poth, Power & Utilities Partner, PWC
Andy Steinhubl, Energy and Chemicals Strategy Leader, KPMG
Hear market insights from our panelists to help you better understand the changing energy landscape and its effect on our businesses. Panelists will share their vision of the principal forces shaping the natural gas and electric utility sector including evolving customer behaviors and regulatory policies and the potential impacts these trends will have on the future of the industry.

3:00 PM – 3:15 PM

3:15 PM – 4:15 PM
Cyber/Physical Security
Speaker: Admiral Thad Allen, Executive Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton
Drawing from his career in the U.S. Coast Guard and his service under President Obama as the National Incident Commander, Mr. Allen will share lessons learned from first-hand experiences resulting from recovery work from major events such as Katrina and Super Storm Sandy. Known for his expertise in bringing together government and non-government entities to address major challenges in a “whole of government” approach designed to achieve a unity of effort, he will relate these experiences to major risk and recovery issues facing energy companies and specifically discuss the important issues of cyber and physical security.

4:30 PM – 5:15 PM
Concurrent Committee Meetings
Service Company Committee
Electric Operations Board Committee
Gas Operations Board Committee

5:30 PM – 9:00 PM
Reception and Dinner hosted by the WEI Service Companies
Located across the street at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Exit Fairmont from the lobby and follow signs. Reception on the pool deck at 5:30 PM. Sit down dinner in the Crystal Pavilion Ballroom at 6:30 PM.

Tuesday, September 20

7:00 AM – 7:45 AM
Concurrent Committee Meetings
Customer Connections Board Committee
Corporate Services Board Committee

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Breakfast and 2017 Western Energy Institute Theme
Speaker: Dave Hutchens, UNS Energy Corp.
The WEI theme for 2017 is “Transforming the Utility Industry:  Finding Value in Customer-Focused Opportunities”. Our theme is reflective of the Influences on our industry and our changing business model, along with influences from constant change in technologies, changing workforce, evolving customer’s desires for instant information and ease of interactions.

9:00 AM – 9:30 AM

9:30 AM – 10:15 AM
Big Data: Is it TMI?
Sarah Kist, Arizona Public Service
Dana T. Steph, P.E., Burns & McDonnell
Joelle Lamontagne, FortisAlberta
Sungly Chiu, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power
Antoine M Tilmon, NV Energy
Tobin Davilla, NW Natural
Utilities have been collecting data from traditional sources for decades, but technology advances are now expanding the amount and variety of available information by an exponential factor. Determining how utilities manage and utilize this data is key in ensuring they are prepared to meet the increasing expectations of the customer, while considering business needs and the workforce of the future.

9:30 AM – 10:15 AM
Gone Phishing: Navigating the Deep “C” of Cybersecurity
Shana Kuhn, Bonneville Power Administration
Jake Perryman, Idaho Power Company
Hollie Bierman, San Diego Gas & Electric
Jason Zyskowski, Snohomish County PUD
Michelle Dandridge, Southern California Gas Company
Lonnie Lozano, TransCanada
A recent cybersecurity attack in Ukraine in late 2015 disabled electric service to over 200,000 customers, forcing systems to be operated manually.  This should be a stern wake-up call to all energy companies about the security of their network. We often hear of cyberattacks on banks and retail outlets, but cyberattacks on energy infrastructure are rapidly accelerating, and could endanger the physical safety of our consumers and the stability of the power grid.  Energy companies need to continuously analyze their existing systems and procedures to protect their facilities, employees, customers and the public. Only after looking in the mirror can the energy industry confront these threats and ultimately respond to them.

10:30 AM – 11:15 AM
Are your utility customers singing “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”
Rosemarie Climaco-Bardelas, ENMAX Corporation
Shawn Kendall, Idaho Power Company
Jamie Chesler, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Bill Messner, Portland General Electric
Rhonda Forde, Questar Gas Company
As innovative technology, new regulatory policy and increased competition changes the existing utility landscape, is your utility prepared for the new reality? Every day, new market entrants like Google, Comcast and Solar City set their sights on our customers. In this presentation, we will examine the current drivers for change as it relates to customer loyalty and how utilities can turn near term challenges into long term opportunities.

10:30 AM – 11:15 AM
Plugging in Millennials – Energy Customers of the Future
Danielle Stoddard, Avista Corporation
Janet Green, FortisBC
Noah Davis, NorthWestern Energy
Jeff Brigger, NV Energy
Kit Seulean , Portland General Electric
Tim Kelley, Sacramento Municipal Utility District
What if you had a choice of energy providers? New market entrants are providing alternatives that are appealing to the next generation energy consumer.  Energy companies today need to shift their focus towards the growing customer segment – Millennials. Offering additional enhanced services that meet the energy needs and align with the values of this group will keep the utility relevant in a changing market – becoming the energy partner of choice.

11:30 AM – 12:15 PM
Unleashing the Power of Customer Experience
Kristie Cocco, Arizona Public Service
Matt Mullineaux, Avista
Steven G. Lins, Sacramento Municipal Utility District
Matt Lovelady, Salt River Project
Sarah G. Peluso-Martinez, Southwest Gas Corporation
Joseph Wilson, Tacoma Power
Historically the utility business has been slow to embrace a customer service approach that centered around meeting the customer’s needs and desires. As the industry begins to recognize the need to change its business model and create more customer engagement, there are several technology solutions that are being considered. It is important to recognize technology is only part of the answer. What utilities need to do is develop a culture that focuses on customer experience. The team will describe what a positive customer experience looks like, why it’s good business and provide examples of tools to help create a quality customer experience.

11:30 AM – 12:15 PM
Bridging the Knowledge Gap with Technology
Jeff Groff, Clark Public Utilities
Patrick Winkel, Consumers Energy
Greg Conlin, ENMAX Corporation
Matt Sanders, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Jennifer Boyer, Puget Sound Energy
Mary A Parker, Southern California Edison
Utility companies are facing an unprecedented challenge related to knowledge transfer. The issue is compounded by the fact that many energy providers have up to 40% of their workforce currently eligible for retirement. Technology may provide an opportunity to bridge the knowledge gap between the more-experienced employees and the newer generations of employees. By presenting current and future technologies, we will demonstrate potential solutions for bridging this knowledge gap.

12:15 PM – 1:15 PM

1:15 PM – 2:00 PM
It Takes Two to Tango: Lowering Operating Costs through Partnerships
D. Jim Papadoulis, BC Hydro
Ryan Privratsky, Cascade Natural Gas Corp.
Roland van Zanten, Henkels & McCoy, Inc.
Elaine A. Vesco, NorthWestern Energy
Debbie Vaske, Salt River Project
Juan Argueta, Southern California Edison
Many North American utilities are striving to improve efficiency with a particular focus on reducing operating costs. Utilities are facing increased cost pressures which challenge their ability to deliver safe, effective work programs and provide a reasonable return on investments for their shareholders. Historically, when a company faced cost pressures, staff is reduced, the scope of work was reduced or work is deferred. These reductions and deferrals increased the risk of system reliability and safety and pushed the challenge into future years. In this presentation, we will explore partnerships through internal work coordination, contractors and vendors, and with other utilities, in order to help utilities achieve their goals while facing these financial challenges.

1:15 PM – 2:00 PM
Energy Storage: As Goes California, So Goes the Nation
Rick Oliver, NPL Construction Company Inc.
Justin Withers, Questar Gas Company
Robert Vertefeuille, Salt River Project
Uzma Siddiqi, Seattle City Light
Michael Chase, Southwest Gas Corporation
Alice Massara, Tacoma Power
California has mandated investor-owned utilities to have 1,325 MW of electric grid energy storage in operation by 2024.  The team will briefly explain the drivers for and regulatory framework of the California mandate and present a high-level overview of possible energy storage options with an emphasis on grid benefits and economic viability of the technologies.  The team will also present a forward-looking view of energy storage for other western utilities.

2:15 PM – 3:00 PM
Agility Ability – Is it in our DNA?
Randy Grove, Central Lincoln PUD
Jonathon Young, ColumbiaGrid
Mandy Assi, FortisBC
Michael Marcus, Puget Sound Energy
Jana Elliott, Seattle City Light
Aaron Bell, Southern California Gas Company
In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven and dynamic market place, expectations on utilities are at an all-time high. Utilities must identify agility in their DNA, and no longer move at their traditional pace if they are to remain relevant to customers and key stakeholders. To thrive in this changing environment and develop greater agility in its business and operating models we recommend: monitoring and reacting to transformational forces, driving an agile workforce culture, and enhancing customer engagement.  Successful energy providers will embrace the challenges and opportunities ahead.

2:15 PM – 3:00 PM
Utility Innovation Reinvented: Presented to a Shark Tank
Alan Rose, Intel Corporation
Kari Chester, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Lance Elroy, Intermountain Gas Company
Michael Barkhuff, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power
Travis Renk, ENSTAR Natural Gas Company
The case for making innovation part of the utility culture as presented to a panel of “Sharks” on stage.  A guest panel of utility executives will listen to the team’s pitch that utilities need to drive innovation best practices into everyday work. What’s at stake? An effort to survive the onslaught of technology that is introducing new competitive forces on the industry.  Guest panelists will take on the role of “Sharks”, asking the team tough questions and providing their own insights and experiences in a presentation you won’t want to miss.

3:15 PM – 4:00 PM
Business Acumen Wrap Up (Students and Mentors only)
An intensive training for high potential managers and supervisors through exposure to broad perspectives of the utility business, its interrelationships and successful leadership strategies. This program is designed by a utility-driven Curriculum Development Team, and directed by facilitators, and executive and alumni mentors. Program sessions are hosted by member utilities and topics are presented by executives, subject matter experts and formal instructors. The first four sessions focus on leadership development, industry perspectives, customer connections, communications and strategic planning. The program includes a capstone project which is delivered to industry leaders at the WEI Annual Meeting. Participants build a broad peer network that continues well into their future careers.

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Women in Leadership (Participants only)
Women in Leadership program participants will meet up for a roundtable on development goal progress, lessons learned, and experience sharing.  We will also welcome a guest speaker to focus on development of essential skills to navigate the rapidly changing industry.

5:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Reception and Dinner
Sponsored by:
Burns + McDonnell-01
7:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders Graduation Ceremony
Open to all attendees


All networking events take place on Sunday, September 18.

City Tour
9:45 AM – 2:30 PM
Registration: $75.00 USD per person

Come discover Vancouver, British Columbia! Vancouver is bursting with iconic experiences that characterize this multifaceted city. This tour provides you the opportunity as a group of WEI attendees to learn about six unique areas of this great city. The tour will include a visit to Stanley Park, English Bay, Gastown on the shores of Burrard Inlet, Chinatown, Canada Place, Vancouver Harbour and Granville Island. Experience stunning city views, snowcapped mountain backdrops, salty smell of the Pacific Ocean, visit where Vancouver’s foundation started and end with a hotbed for good food and great art before returning to the hotel for the day.

Includes transportation, fully escorted private tour, fun and informative Tour Guide and water. On the last stop on Granville Island, you will have time to shop, browse and eat lunch. Lunch is not included in the price of this tour, but does include tax and gratuity for the tour.

Cancellation Policy: No refunds after August 19. Substitutions are welcomed.

Vancouver Brewery Tour
12:00 PM – 3:45 PM
Registration: $110.00 USD per person

Come experience the behind the scenes of Vancouver’s flourishing breweries. We will visit three distinct breweries which include the process from grain to glass, we’ll walk you through the brewing process with an easy to understand and approachable presentation (note: the level of beer geek is up to you). Each brewery will show you something different and unique while you learn about the company’s history, operations and the people who started the brewery. Oh, did we mention the generous amount of beer samples you’ll be enjoying?

Includes transportation, private brewery tours and tastings, snacks and water. Tour will be split between two vans and will meet up on the third brewery for some substantial snacks. Fee does include tax and gratuity for the tour.

Cancellation Policy: No refunds after August 19. Substitutions are welcomed.

Northland Golf Networking Event
6:45 AM – 1:30 PM
Registration: $170.00 USD per person

Discover one of Western Canada’s most incredible golf experiences! Enjoy the day outside with nature for a friendly round of golf at Northlands Golf Course. The course has a mix of challenging holes, friendly scenic downhill vistas and strategically located natural hazards. Greens are large and without severe undulations and water comes into play on the back nine on several holes, which are environmentally sensitive. Throughout the design and construction, there was emphasis on retaining the naturalness of this forested mountainside site.

Includes transportation, greens fee, cart, bottled water and boxed lunch. There is no driving range at this course, but a short-game practice area is available. Individual tee times will start at 8:00 AM.

Cancellation Policy: No refunds after August 19.  Substitutions are welcomed.

Hotel + Travel

Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver
900 Canada Place Way
Vancouver, BC V6C 3L5
Phone: 604.691.1820

Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver
645 Howe St.
Vancouver, BC V6C 2Y9
Phone: 800.667.2300

As of August 31, both WEI room blocks at the Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver and the Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver are full.  We recommend researching nearby hotels for availability.

A discounted rate of $359 CAD plus tax is available at the nearby Wedgewood Hotel & Spa. This discount will be available until September 8th or until the discount block is full. Reserve your room by calling 604.608.5314 (or 604.689.7777 after hours or during weekends,) and specify “Western Energy Institute (WEI) Annual Meeting” Group to receive the discount. Please note that a full deposit of all room nights and taxes will be taken upon booking. Cancellations can be made up to 72 hours before check in.

Wedgewood Hotel & Spa
845 Hornby Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1V1

Program Sponsors

Thank You Program Sponsors

Platinum Members:
Accenture-01Aclara-01Booz-01Burns + McDonnell-01Copperleaf-01EY-01Henkels + McCoy-01Itron-01-01KPMG-01KS Energy Services-01Landis+Gyr-01Mosaic-01-01NPL-01Par Electric-01Picarro-01Potelco-01PWC-01Rokstad-01SAP-01Sheffield-01Siemens-01TDW-01Tendril-01

Gold Members:

ABDD-01 ActiveTelesource-01 Asplundh-01 Barnard-01Black + Veatch-01Davies-01-01 Esource-01Energy Care-01EnergyOttawa-01HDR-01  Honeywell-01IBM-01Intel-01Intren-01    Leidos-01Lyall-01 Mears-01 Michels-01Milwaukee-01 Nexant-01Ricoh-01 SEL-01-01 snelson_300dpi The HDD Company-01 Towers Watson-01  Trimble-01Underground Construction-01Vertical Bridge-01