Board of Directors (Jan 27-28)

This one and a half day event provides a full-day educational session, a business meeting and the opportunity to network with the West’s natural gas and electric utility executive community. The agenda is developed by the WEI President and Board Chair to deliver provocative discussions and identifies strategic drivers that influence energy utilities in Western North America and is driven by the yearly theme. Each year the Board of Directors convene twice, once in January/February, and the second coincides with the WEI Annual Meeting to evaluate WEI as a whole. At this meeting, the Board of Directors convene a business session to evaluate WEI’s accomplishments and determine the direction of the association.

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Dennis Vermillion, President, Avista Corp.

    • Program Location
    • Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
    • 1107 Jamboree Rd.
      Newport Beach, CA 92660
    • Who Should Attend
      • WEI Board of Directors members
      • Select invitees
  • Registration Options
  • This meeting is invitation only. Current WEI Board of Directors are welcome to attend free of charge along with a personal guest, (a spouse or partner who does not work in the energy industry).

    Attendee (Special Invite): $599 USD
    This registration is for attendees who are not currently serving on the board but have been invited to attend. This includes Platinum representatives who would like to attend the full agenda on Monday. Registration includes all meal events, education sessions, and meeting materials. Does not include the two Business Sessions.

  • 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, Executive Director of Programs at (503) 688-2795.


Sunday, January 27, 2019

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Executive Committee - Business Session

Committee members only

6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Welcome Reception + Dinner

Sponsored by Burns & McDonnell

Monday, January 28, 2019

7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Buffet Breakfast

8:00 AM - 9:30 AM

Shaping the Digital Utility
Moderator(s): Andy Stulbarg, Vice President, West, SAP
Panelist(s): Margaret Hopkins, VP & Chief Information Officer, Puget Sound Energy, Kevin Chase, SVP, Chief Information and Digital Officer, San Diego Gas & Electric Company and Southern California Gas Company, Todd Inlander, Sr. Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Southern California Edison

A moderated dialogue between CIOs will explore how utilities are changing the way business is done to leverage new opportunities in technology, analytics and automation. Hear how companies are transforming the way work is being done through a variety of initiatives and new approaches.

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM


10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Decarbonization Pathways: Keys to the Best Solutions for Our Customers
Moderator(s): William Kemp, Partner, Enovation Partners
Panelist(s): Todd Strauss, Sr. Director, Strategy & Analytics, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Michael Backstrom, Managing Director, Energy & Environmental Policy, Southern California Edison, Greg Caldwell, Director, Development & Innovation, ATCO Pipelines, Sharon Tomkins, Vice President, Customer Solutions and Strategy, Southern California Gas Company

Technological advances provide exciting new opportunities in low-carbon energy supply from electricity or natural gas, but perspectives vary across companies and regions when determining which technology to integrate on what timeline. Utility leaders need to gain a better understanding of the feasibility and costs of alternative electric and gas pathways to achieving GHG emissions and reduction goals. This panel will bring together different perspectives on how companies can address decarbonization requirements while weighing cost and reliability. Through the discussion, the panel will highlight broad policy principles or messages that both electric and natural gas utilities can support when engaging the public, customers, and regulators.

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM


12:30 PM - 4:00 PM

The Future of Electrification and Implications for your Organization
Facilitator(s): Pam Henderson, Founder and CEO, NewEdge Inc., Christian Diamond, Opportunity Analyst, NewEdge, Inc

NewEdge and its CEO Pam Henderson will explore the future of electrification and the role of natural gas using an applied scenario approach that will help build an understanding of what the future holds in the next 10 to 20 years. Facilitators will create engagement through exercises that bring unique perspectives together and will drive impact well beyond the future proofing session. 
We will look at electrification using a holistic approach that encompasses a diverse trend set, including categories such as: Sociocultural, Competitive, Economic, Natural, Advancements in Technology and Business Models, Regulatory, International, and Organizational.  Combined with that approach, NewEdge uses a range of insights and data to create a fairy and scary tale of what the future could hold, specific to WEI. 
Pam Henderson previously served on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University and later worked with the national laboratory system to commercialize early stage technologies. She is known for bringing new thinking and perspective on how to capture and harness opportunity. Participants will receive a copy of Pam Henderson’s book, “You can kill an idea, you can’t kill an opportunity”.

4:15 PM - 5:30 PM

Board of Directors - Business Session

Board members only

5:30 PM - 6:00 PM


6:00 PM - 8:30 PM


Sponsored by Henkels & McCoy, Inc.

Hotel + Travel

  • The Hyatt Regency Newport Beach is the perfect place to work, play, relax, meet, dine, and simply be yourself. Superb services and amenities, including a self-serve Mac Station, gift shop, same day laundry services and public Wi-Fi add up to an unforgettable stay. Travelers on the go appreciate "grab & go" food options in Lobby Lounge, Mobile Check-in and the E-Concierge. Our convenient hotel offers complimentary shuttle service to and from John Wayne Airport, Fashion Island and Balboa Island, and we have a Hertz Rental Car right at the hotel to simplify your travels.
  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (800) 233-1234 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with WEI Board of Directors to receive a special rate of $175 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until January 11, 2019 or until the WEI room block is full.

Program Sponsors

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

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

Session Sponsors
Henkels + McCoy-01


Meet The Speakers

Margaret Hopkins

Puget Sound Energy

VP & Chief Information Officer
Learn More

Margaret Hopkins is Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Washington-based Puget Sound Energy, the utility subsidiary of Puget Energy, Inc.
As VP and CIO, Margaret is responsible for leading PSE’s technology and cyber security strategy and delivering solutions that enable business process improvement.

Margaret’s previous positions include technology and leadership roles at Philip Morris, The Chubb Corporation, and Safeco Insurance.

Margaret is dedicated to developing future leaders in the community and workplace. She has been an executive mentor to the Executive Development Institute of Seattle’s Puget Sound Region, where she provided professional coaching and mentoring services to mid-senior-level leaders.

She holds a degree from The Pennsylvania State University, with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics.

Kevin Chase

San Diego Gas & Electric Company and Southern California Gas Company

SVP, Chief Information and Digital Officer

Todd Inlander

Southern California Edison

Sr. Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Learn More

Todd Inlander is senior vice president and chief information officer (CIO) for Southern California Edison (SCE), responsible for managing the company’s information technology infrastructure and applications.

He is responsible for a diverse portfolio of technology assets, including the company’s expansive fiber network, support for its SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) Systems, as well as the cybersecurity organization. Inlander is keenly focused on operational excellence, as he seeks to streamline the IT organization and leverage strategic partners to deliver cost-effective technology solutions.

Inlander and his team are focused on delivering a broad array of capabilities, from upgrading and enhancing grid technologies, delivering mobile solutions, enhancing the customer experience through an improved digital experience and increasing the company’s cybersecurity defenses.

Prior to joining SCE, Inlander was vice president and CIO for Edison Mission Group (EMG), at the time a subsidiary of Edison International. In this role, he had responsibility for managing and improving technology capabilities to support the trading, generation and enterprise business requirements.

Before joining EMG in 2008, Inlander served as CIO of the homebuilding subsidiary of Lennar Homes, responsible for delivering technology solutions to support the needs of homebuilding and land operations. He was also senior vice president and CIO for Fleetwood Enterprises, where he drove enterprise resource planning and customer- relationship management initiatives to standardize common applications.

Inlander began his career as an aerospace engineer working for the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

He earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Rutgers University College of Engineering.

Gregory Caldwell

ATCO Pipelines

Director, Development & Innovation
Learn More

Greg was educated as an Engineer at the University of Alberta, specializing in Petroleum Engineering.
Greg’s professional experience consists of Engineering, Accounting, and Regulatory work in the Utility and Oil Field Industries.

His recent focus (since 2012) has been in the areas of Business Technology, Utility Regulation, and Innovation. Greg has extensive professional experience
dealing in Regulatory and financial matters, which when combined with his technical background provides a unique skillset to help understand and analyze problems holistically from an engineering, financial, and regulatory perspective. He currently participates on national committees with the Canadian Gas Association in partnership with multiple levels of government with goal of funding and testing of emerging technologies to combat climate change, promoting energy security, and alternative ways for Canadians to provide for their energy needs. Greg also participates as the Canadian representative for the International Gas Union Innovation committee.
Greg is married and has two children aged three and six. When not spending time with his family he enjoys playing hockey, travelling, and learning about new technologies and strategies to solve the challenges facing industry and society.

Sharon Tomkins

Southern California Gas Company

Vice President, Customer Solutions and Strategy
Learn More

Sharon Tomkins is vice president of strategy and engagement for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), a Sempra Energy regulated California utility. She is responsible for developing and delivering the information, that meets customers’ energy needs and supports state environmental and social policy objectives.
Tomkins leads the company’s energy policy and strategy, which includes issues management for balanced energy, energy choice, affordability and reliability.
Tomkins joined SoCalGas in 2010 as regulatory assistant general counsel. Prior to this, she was a partner at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where she was a founding member of the firm’s Energy, Natural Resources & Environmental Practice and represented clients in a variety of litigation, regulatory and appellate proceedings. Tomkins’ energy focus began during her representation of various clients, including Sempra, during the California energy crisis. She also developed and taught the law school class, Energy Law, Policy & Climate Change, at UCLA law school. After graduating from law school, Tomkins clerked in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, for the Honorable Danny J. Boggs.
Tomkins is chair of the board of directors of the California Minority Counsel Program. She also serves on the board of directors of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and Constitutional Rights Foundation, as well as the advisory board of the U.C. Davis Energy Efficiency Institute. She is a member of the University of California, Irvine Chief Executive Roundtable.

Tomkins graduated Order of the Coif from the USC Gould School of Law and received her undergraduate degree in English, with High Distinction, from Pennsylvania State University.

William Kemp

Enovation Partners

Learn More

Bill Kemp serves as U.S. Partner for the Energy & Utilities industry practice of Roland Berger LLC. Roland Berger is one of the top five global corporate strategy consultancies, with 3000 professionals in Europe, Asia and North America.. He leads the firm’s services in the US on decarbonization strategies and strategy implementation. Bill helps clients to develop strategies that leverage effectively their real competitive advantages, and then to focus and align their organizations around achieving the ultimate test of successful strategy: results. He previously co-founded Enovation Partners, led the Strategy consulting practice for Black & Veatch Management Consulting, and before that ran the Asia-Pacific-Africa energy industry practice of Deloitte Consulting,

Bill has served in various leadership positions in the International Association for Energy Economics, and speaks frequently before industry groups such as the Edison Electric Institute, the Western Energy Institute, American Gas Association and others. He earned a B.A. magna cum laude from Harvard University and a Master of Public Policy from U.C.-Berkeley. Bill first started coming to meetings of WEI or its predecessors in 1986 (!).

Pam Henderson

NewEdge Inc.

Founder and CEO
Learn More

Pam Henderson, Ph.D., is CEO of NewEdge, Inc., a growth, strategy and design firm that advises companies across every industry including over 75 Fortune 500 and 50 startups and non-profits. Pam pioneered Opportunity Thinking™ principles, a new approach to innovation that helps organizations create sustainable growth. Organizations are adopting Opportunity Thinking™ as their corporate innovation strategy for long term growth.

Formerly on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, Pam later worked with the national laboratory system and Washington State University to commercialize early stage technologies. Pam speaks internationally and has published widely on market insight, business and innovation strategy, and design and has received recognition in the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, and NPR.

Pam is also the author of a new book on Opportunity Thinking, titled You Can Kill An Idea, But You Can’t Kill An Opportunity! How to Discover News Sources of Growth for Your Organization, now in its fourth publishing by Wiley, a trademark of John Wiley & Sons.

Michael Backstrom

Southern California Edison

Managing Director, Energy & Environmental Policy

Todd Strauss

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Sr. Director, Strategy & Analytics

Andy Stulbarg


Vice President, West

Christian Diamond

NewEdge, Inc

Opportunity Analyst