Annual Meeting (Sep 23-25)

This three-day event brings together the West’s natural gas and electric utility executive community together 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.

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General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Ronald O. Nichols, President, Southern California Edison

    • Program Location
    • Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa
    • 900 Newport Center Drive
      Newport Beach, California 92660
    • Who Should Attend
      • Energy industry executives
      • WEI Board of Directors
      • Executive Planning Committees
      • Service company providers
      • Senior management professionals
  • Registration Options
  • Member: $999 USD

    Registration price increases $100 after August 31, 2018. Registration includes meeting materials, 1 reception, 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 breaks, all presentations and panel discussions, one dinner and admission to the Service Company reception and dinner event. Guest tickets are available for $150 and allow a personal guest (a spouse or partner who does not work in the energy industry) to accompany a registered attendee at the event. Guest registration includes all meals and receptions, and all program materials.

  • General Cancellation Policy
  • Due to contractual obligations, cancellations received 15 business days prior to the program will receive a full refund. Cancellations received 6 to 14 business days prior to the event will receive a refund, less a $100 administrative fee. No shows and last minute cancellations, 5 business days prior to the event or less, will be responsible for the full registration fee. Substitutions from your organization for the same event are always welcome.
  • Participation Policy
  • Western Energy Institute programs and events are open to energy companies (including gas production and electric generation, gas and electric transmission and gas and electric distribution utilities). Select programs and events are open to energy industry product and service suppliers. Programs and events are closed to all media representatives and to the general public.
  • For more information contact Anna Sanger Reed, Director of Customer + Corporate Programs at (503) 688-2795.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

7:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Networking Activities TBD

11:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Women in Leadership

Current Women in Leadership Participants Only

3:30 PM - 4:15 PM

WEI Board Executive Committee Meeting

Open only to committee members.

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Check In + Nametag Pickup

4:30 PM - 5:30 PM

WEI Board of Directors Meeting

Open only to board members.

5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Welcome Reception

7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Board of Directors Dinner - Offsite

Invitation only. Open to board members and invited guests.

Monday, September 24, 2018

7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Registration + Materials Pickup

7:30 AM - 8:30 AM

Breakfast + Opening Remarks
Speaker(s): Ronald O. Nichols, President, Southern California Edison

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Opening Keynote
Speaker(s): Jim Messina, CEO, The Messina Group

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

Networking Break

9:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Climate Change Panel

11:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Networking Break

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Cybersecurity Panel


12:30 AM - 2:30 PM

Lunch + General Session

2:30 PM - 2:45 PM


2:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Gas and Electric Reliability Panel

4:00 PM - 4:15 PM


4:15 PM - 5:30 PM

Concurrent Meetings

Invitation only

CEO + President’s of Utilities Facilitated Roundtable 
Customer Connections Board Committee
Corporate Services Board Committee
Electric Operations Board Committee
Gas Operations Board Committee

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

Platinum/Gold + Service Company Committee Meeting

Open only to committee members.

5:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Service Company Reception and Dinner

Open to all attendees. Join us for a wonderful evening sponsored by WEI service companies.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Breakfast and 2019 Western Energy Institute Theme
Speaker(s): Dennis Vermillion, President, Avista Corp.

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM

Networking Break

9:30 AM - 10:15 AM

Industry Session Breakout 1

9:30 AM - 10:15 AM

Industry Session Breakout 2

10:15 AM - 10:30 AM


10:30 AM - 11:15 AM

Industry Session Breakout 3

10:30 AM - 11:15 AM

Industry Session Breakout 4

11:15 AM - 11:30 AM


11:30 AM - 12:15 AM

Industry Session Breakout 5

11:30 AM - 12:15 PM

Industry Session Breakout 6

12:15 PM - 1:15 PM


1:15 PM - 2:00 PM

Industry Session Breakout 7

1:15 PM - 2:00 PM

Industry Session Breakout 8

2:00 PM - 2:15 PM


2:15 PM - 3:00 PM

Industry Session Breakout 9

3:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Industry Session Breakout 10

3:00 PM - 3:15 PM


5:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Reception, Dinner and Graduation Ceremony for Business Acumen

Open to all attendees

Hotel + Travel

  • Surround yourself in luxury and convenience at Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa. Enjoy easy access to California's most pristine beaches, affluent areas including Corona del Mar, popular attractions such as Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Balboa Island and premier shopping and dining at Fashion Island. Slumber in style in our Newport Beach hotel's spacious guest rooms and suites featuring sweeping Pacific Ocean views, chic decor, plush furnishings and expansive marble bathrooms. Our unique Newport Beach conference venues are ideal for productive meetings and unforgettable weddings. Treat yourself to tranquility at Pure Blu, our full-service spa offering private cabanas, a saltwater lap pool and state-of-the-art fitness center. Savor exquisite dining at Sam & Harry's, our renowned steakhouse serving fresh seafood, prime filets and an extensive wine list. Indulge in a specialty beverage and fresh pastry from our Starbucks. Experience the authentic SoCal lifestyle at Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa.
  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (800) 228-9290 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute to receive a special rate of $209 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until September 21, 2018 or until the WEI room block is full.

Program Sponsors

Platinum Sponsors
ABDD-01Aclara-01-01Booz-01Bridge-01Burns + McDonnell-01Copperleaf-01HDR-01Henkels + McCoy-01Honeywell-01Itron-01-01KPMG-01KS Energy Services-01Landis+Gyr-01Picarro-01Potelco-01Rokstad-01-01SAP-01Sheffield-01Siemens-01

Gold Sponsors:
ActiveTelesource-01AmecFoster-01Acros-01Asplundh-01 Barnard-01Black + Veatch-01Esource-01Energy Care-01HGCA-01IBM-01Nexant-01PrintRicoh-01SEL-01-01     snelson_300dpiTDW-03-01The HDD Company-01Towers Watson-01vertexone logo w-tagline NEWWilson Construction-01

Meet The Speakers

Ronald O. Nichols

Southern California Edison


Dennis Vermillion

Avista Corp.

Learn More

Dennis Vermillion is currently president of Avista Corporation. He also serves as chairman of the board of directors for Avista Corp. subsidiary Alaska Electric Light and Power Company.

Dennis joined Avista in 1985 and has held various staff and management positions. His experience covers a broad range of activities, including leadership, energy trading and marketing, risk management, scheduling, resource operations, power/transmission contracting, resource planning and coordination, regulatory issues and production cost modeling. Previously, Dennis served as senior vice president of Avista Corp. and president of Avista Utilities, vice president of energy resources for Avista Utilities and prior to that, as president and chief operating officer for Avista Energy from February 2001 until its sale in June 2007.

He is a 1985 graduate of Washington State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. He currently serves as a board member for the Spokane County United Way and the Avista Foundation.

Jim Messina

The Messina Group

Learn More

CEO, The Messina Group, Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff and President Barack Obama’s 2012 Campaign Manager

Jim Messina is arguably one of the world’s most successful political advisors. The mastermind behind President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, Jim Messina seized the reins on what Bloomberg Businessweek dubbed “the highest-wattage crash course in executive management ever undertaken”—and succeeded, earning the President another term in the White House. With the guidance of technology’s foremost leaders, Jim abandoned every step of a traditional presidential campaign and merged technology and politics in a way that was both unpredictable and unprecedented.

Jim’s strategies established the modern presidential campaign—Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt called it “the best-run campaign ever.” The American Association of Political Consultants later crowned him the Campaign Strategist of the Year (2013).

Since then he has gone on to advise Presidents and Prime Ministers on five continents including: UK’s Theresa May and David Cameron, Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto, Argentina’s Mauricio Macri, Italy’s Matteo Renzi and in 2016 helped Spain’s President Mariano Rajoy win a surprising re-election margin.

In 2013, Messina launched The Messina Group. In this role, Messina provides strategic consulting to businesses around the world. The firm has been involved in winning public policy campaigns on five continents. Clients include Uber, Airbnb, Google, Delta Air Lines, Hutchison Whampoa, and over 70 others.

Previously, Jim served as Deputy Chief of Staff in President Barack Obama’s White House, where he was integral to the passage of the historic health care bill, the economic stimulus act credited with saving the US economy, and the landmark repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

Messina continues to advise and guide Democratic candidates and organizations at all levels, as well as providing insight on news outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, BBC and others.

Jim serves on the boards of Organizing for Action (OFA), Virgin HyperloopOne, Google’s Advanced Technology Panel,, Pillpack, Patient Safety Movement Foundation, LanzaTech, Hyp3r, the United States Soccer Foundation, and the Montana Land Reliance.