Business Analytics (Sep 17-18)

Utilities find themselves inundated with a diversity of data across all lines of their business. Business analytics professionals function as a critical link in analyzing and interpreting information to improve systems and operations, maintain organizational health and ultimately improve the bottom line. These professionals gather semi-annually to discuss asset management, business intelligence, key metrics and dashboard insights, enterprise risk management, pricing and rate strategies, and analytics best practices.

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Lee Beran, Business Support Manager, FortisBC

    • Program Location
    • BC Hydro
    • 333 Dunsmuir St
      Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 5R4
    • Who Should Attend
    • Utility professionals with a command over data-related needs such as transforming, storing, mining, analyzing, visualizing and reporting back out to the business.​ Depending on the organizational structure, these professionals come from areas including finance, operations, business planning and customer service.

  • Registration Options
  • Member: $399 USD

    Registration includes access to all Business Analytics agenda items and meeting materials, a networking dinner on Monday night, as well as catered breakfast, lunch, and refreshments at the meeting. Guest tickets are available for $65 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 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 Amy Nye, Program Manager at (503) 688-2794.


Monday, September 17, 2018

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Optional Networking Activity

Arriving early? Join us for a walking tour of downtown Vancouver led by Andy Coupland, author and tour guide. Meet in the lobby of the Four Seasons hotel at 10:00 AM. Highlights of the tour include Georgia Plaza, the Hotel Vancouver, Christ Church Cathedral, the Dal Grauer electricity substation and The Electra, (the former headquarters of BC Hydro), St Paul's Hospital, Burrard Place, Mole Hill, and Nelson Park. We'll end at Robson Street, a couple of blocks from the Four Seasons. Cost is $10 (CAD) cash onsite. 

12:30 PM - 1:00 PM

Registration + Networking

Arrive early to network with peers. Light refreshments will be provided.

1:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Welcome to BC Hydro
Facilitator(s): Ryan Knowles, Manager, Marketing Analytics, BC Hydro, Lee Beran, Business Support Manager, FortisBC
Speaker(s): Chris O'Riley, President & Chief Operating Officer, BC Hydro

BC Hydro's President and Chief Operating Officer will welcome the group to Vancouver. 

1:15 PM - 2:00 PM

Facilitator(s): Lee Beran, Business Support Manager, FortisBC

Get to know your peers with our round-robin attendee introductions. Come prepared to share a success story or challenge from your latest initiatives, along with one question you hope will be answered at the forum.

2:00 PM - 2:15 PM

Networking Break

2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

Customer Analytics
Facilitator(s): Lee Beran, Business Support Manager, FortisBC
Speaker(s): Ryan Knowles, Manager, Marketing Analytics, BC Hydro, Daniel van den Berg, Senior Business Data Analyst, Clark Public Utilities

Hear from two utilities on their recent projects to help improve customer service. BC Hydro is working on a High Bill Email Alert system and using analytics to identify customers likely to call about a high bill. The email alert is intended to help customers understand why they might receive a higher than normal bill and perhaps even take steps to prevent it. Clark PUD is working on a customer preference management system to provide improved service and flexibility based on customer needs.  

3:15 PM - 3:30 PM

Networking Break

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Dashboard Showcase
Speaker(s): Daniel van den Berg, Senior Business Data Analyst, Clark Public Utilities, Ted Peterson, Program Manager, Dominion Energy Utah, Diana Cuesta, Data Engineer, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, John Sohl, Senior Manager, Business Analytics, NW Natural, Mark Forster, DIMP Manager, Southern California Gas Company, Lee Beran, Business Support Manager, FortisBC

This session will feature multiple presentations on effective dashboards currently being used at WEI member utilities.

6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Networking Dinner

Join us for a WEI hosted networking dinner at Rogue Kitchen + Wetbar: 
200 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 3L6

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Networking Breakfast

Breakfast will be provided onsite.

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

DIY: How to Build an Advanced Analytics Team
Facilitator(s): Diana Cuesta, Data Engineer, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Speaker(s): Mario Carrasco, Manager, CAP and Performance Improvement, Pacific Gas and Electric Company

In this session, we will hear about Pacific Gas and Electric's journey to build their Enterprise Corrective Action Program (ECAP) Analytics and Data Science team. The mission of the team is to provide actionable and meaningful insights that support strategic and informed decisions through data science and analytical methods. Despite only being in operation for a few months, they have already learned some valuable lessons and are ready to share insights to help you pave the path in your organization. This interactive presentation will explain what they did, why they did it, and illustrate some of their current work. 

9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Networking Break

9:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Solving Business Problems with Predictive Analytics
Facilitator(s): Lee Beran, Business Support Manager, FortisBC
Speaker(s): Ben Pedret, Data Scientist, Emerge Analytics Ltd.

It's time to move beyond simple data mining and reporting. That branch of analytics deals with “what happened in the past”. Let’s go to where the puck will be as opposed to where it was. This presentation will discuss and demonstrate how to use linear and discrete optimization to forecast and solve practical problems. Many utility-related problems can be solved using this approach, including: scheduling crews, supply-chain decisions, allocating budgets, and optimizing delivery and transportation. Topics covered include: key concepts, introduction to implementing linear programs in spreadsheets, and sample problems with multi-variables and multi-constraints.

10:15 AM - 10:30 AM

Networking Break

10:30 AM - 11:15 AM

Open Roundtable
Facilitator(s): Lee Beran, Business Support Manager, FortisBC

This time is reserved for attendees to return to topics and questions introduced the previous day.

11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Converting Hydrogen Power to Gas
Facilitator(s): Lee Beran, Business Support Manager, FortisBC
Speaker(s): Paul Chernikhowsky, Doug Slater, General Manager, Alternative Energy Services (FAES), FortisBC

In the coming years, a large amount of renewable electricity is expected to come online, and currently, there is no practical large-scale technology capable of storing the excess electricity. Hear from the General Manager of FortisBC's Alternative Energy Services (FAES) on how creating hydrogen using electrolysis powered by renewable electricity and injecting it into their natural gas system would allow them to reduce both GHG emissions associated with burning natural gas and to use their gas system to store electricity. 

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Networking Lunch

Lunch will be provided onsite.

1:00 PM - 1:45 PM

Capital Reporting
Speaker(s): Lee Beran, Business Support Manager, FortisBC, Kasia Karwowski, Energy Products and Services Specialist, FortisBC

FortisBC will demonstrate how they are using PowerBI to enable a deeper analysis on capital spent to connect customers to natural gas, and ease of reporting to the regulator.

1:45 PM - 2:30 PM

Operations Staffing: Planning for Attrition + Retirements
Facilitator(s): Ryan Knowles, Manager, Marketing Analytics, BC Hydro
Speaker(s): Jeff Zaubi, Business Analyst, NW Natural, Nels Wahlman, Business Analyst, NW Natural

Are hiring decisions from the past causing your work force to have less experience? How many people are eligible to retire? Do you have training constraints? NW Natural will share results from their recent staffing analysis project by discussing these topics in detail, along with hiring strategies that have been effective at their utility.

2:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Wrap Up + Spring 2019 Planning

Share your thoughts on the forum as we turn our sights toward the Spring program.

Hotel + Travel

  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (866) 223-9333 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute and use the discount code ‘WEI Business Analytics’ to receive a special rate of $275 CAD/night. You can also book online and use the group code “180916WEI”. This rate is guaranteed until August 31, 2018 or until the WEI room block is full.

Meet The Speakers

Ryan Knowles

BC Hydro

Manager, Marketing Analytics

Mario Carrasco

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Manager, CAP and Performance Improvement
Learn More

Mario Carrasco’s passion for process improvement led him to build the Analytics team supporting PG&E’s Safety & Health organization in 2017. He is currently the Manger of the Public Safety Data Analytics team, whose mission is to provide actionable and meaningful insights from data to support strategic and informed decisions. In his previous roles at PG&E, Mario worked as the Manager of the Corrective Action Program (CAP) supporting Safety & Corporate Services and as the Senior Operations Manager in Supply Chain. Prior to that, he worked as the Regional Production Manager at Scholastic Book Fairs.

Mario studied Industrial Civil Engineering at the Federico Santa Maria University, in Chile, where he is from. Additionally, he holds Project Management Professional (PMP) and Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB) certifications.

Mario lives in Oakland, CA, with his wife and three kids. He enjoys playing soccer, the piano, and skiing with his family.

Lee Beran


Business Support Manager

Ben Pedret

Emerge Analytics Ltd.

Data Scientist
Learn More

Ben Pedret is an independent consultant with more than 20 years of experience developing and deploying data models for a wide range of applications, including: financial analysis, forecasting, investments decisions, and operation research. Ben has worked with many companies, governmental agencies, and scientific and research communities to apply data science and mathematics to solving problems. Some of the industries that worked in include: healthcare, manufacting, retail, e-commerce, transportation, utilities, and agriculture. His specific areas of expertise include, data modeling and algorithm design using a wide varitey of IT platforms and developemement tools including SQL, Oracle, SAP, R, Java, and standard MS Office software. Ben is a Certified Management Consultant who holds an MBA from Simon Fraser University and a PhD in the field of computational science and engineering from Strathclyde University, U.K.

Nels Wahlman

NW Natural

Business Analyst

Jeff Zaubi

NW Natural

Business Analyst

Daniel van den Berg

Clark Public Utilities

Senior Business Data Analyst

Ted Peterson

Dominion Energy Utah

Program Manager

Diana Cuesta

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Data Engineer

Rob Bremault

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Sr. Rate Analyst

Chris O’Riley

BC Hydro

President & Chief Operating Officer
Learn More

Chris leads B.C.’s largest Crown corporation, the fourth largest company in the province as ranked by annual revenue. With a clean energy advantage thanks to a long history of hydroelectric generation, BC Hydro delivers 98% renewable and clean electricity to its 4 million customers. To ensure a reliable supply of this critical product, BC Hydro will spend approximately $2 billion per year over the next 10 years to refurbish and expand its electricity assets. With construction of the Site C Project currently underway, Chris continues to seek opportunities to support clean development in B.C., such as through low carbon electrification.

Chris built his career at BC Hydro, starting as an engineer-in-training fresh out of university in 1990. During his 29-year career, Chris has held positions throughout the organization and across the province, including roles working with customers, leading operations, overseeing capital projects, and working at BC Hydro’s trading subsidiary. He has been a member of BC Hydro’s Executive Team since 2007, and was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer in 2015.

Originally from Nova Scotia, Chris’ family relocated to B.C. in 1974. Why? His dad was inspired by the growth in B.C. and in particular, a Time Magazine article featuring W.A.C. Bennett, the driving force behind BC Hydro as we know it today. With great appreciation for the sense of history and legacy of our province’s crown jewel, Chris feels honoured to be leading the company today.

Chris is a Professional Engineer and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Chris lives in Vancouver with his wife and three children, where he is active in his local community.

Kasia Karwowski


Energy Products and Services Specialist

John Sohl

NW Natural

Senior Manager, Business Analytics

Mark Forster

Southern California Gas Company

DIMP Manager

Doug Slater


General Manager, Alternative Energy Services (FAES)