Corporate Communications (Feb 07-08)

Internal and external communication professionals in the utility industry face a variety of challenges in supporting their organizations’ strategic plans, particularly as the utility workforce undergoes significant transformation, communication channels multiply, and utilities face increasing competition. This semiannual forum provides a unique, collaborative space for leaders in corporate communications to discuss these challenges and communications best practices. Recent topics of discussion include executive communications strategy, communicating with employees in the field, crisis communication, branding for employee recruitment and onboarding, environmental stewardship communications, and resource mix communication strategies.

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Joe Ramallo, Asst. General Manager, Communications, Media & Community Affairs, LADWP; Michelle Figueroa, Manager of Corporate Communications, LADWP, Stephanie Spicer, Manager of Community Affairs, LADWP; Ellen Cheng, LADWP

    • Program Location
    • Los Angeles Department of Water & Power
    • 111 North Hope St.
      Los Angeles, CA 90012
    • Who Should Attend
    • Energy company corporate communications senior leadership, including directors and managers.

  • Registration Options
  • Member: $399 USD
    Regular: $399 USD

    Registration prices increase $100 after January 18, 2019. Registration includes lunch and networking dinner on Thursday, breakfast and lunch on Friday, and all meeting materials. Guest tickets are available for $100 and allow for 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 Joshua Baker, Program Manager at (971) 255-4970.


Thursday, February 7, 2019

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM


9:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Introductions + Opening Roundtable

Attendees are encouraged to share their name, company overview, general role within the organization and a recent win or current challenge.

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Networking Break

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

Communicating Strategic Priorities
Speaker(s): Cara Chatfield, Manager, Corporate Communications, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Michelle Figueroa, Manager of Corporate Communications, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

This session will feature two utilities sharing how they have rolled out their strategic plans or priorities.

After Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s difficult rollout of a new customer service billing system, the utility ingrained improved customer experience into their strategic plan to ensure they were rebuilding trust with their customers. The utility will share how they are communicating the customer excellence strategies to all employees.  

Sacramento Municipal Utility District will present on the communications plan and tactics to support roll out of their latest 5-year strategic plan and how they are keeping the new corporate strategy and key strategic priorities at the forefront of internal communications.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


Catered lunch will be provided onsite at LADWP.

1:00 PM - 2:15 PM

Crisis Communications
Speaker(s): Lindsay Hobson, Communications Manager, ENSTAR Natural Gas Company, Brandon Young, Digital Communications Manager, BC Hydro

With a wide variety of crises that utilities may be faced with at any time, it is important to be prepared to effectively respond. This session will start with a case study from ENSTAR Natural Gas Company. In November of 2018, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the Anchorage, Alaska area causing significant damage to infrastructure across a widespread area. Lindsay Hobson will share how her department and the utility prepared for this type of crisis, what the utility response entailed in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake (as they received thousands of calls about potential gas leaks resulting in 1500 service orders), and the ongoing operational and communication strategies deployed to keep employees and customers safe while restoring service.

BC Hydro's Brandon Young will then share their utility response to a December 2018 windstorm that left 750,000 customers without power. 

2:15 PM - 2:30 PM

Networking Break

2:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Stakeholder Engagement for Large Projects and Investments
Panelist(s): Anna Deeley, Communications Manager, Site C, BC Hydro, Stephanie Spicer, Manager of Community Affairs, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, Keri Pravitz, Community Projects Manager, Puget Sound Energy

In this panel conversation, utilities will share the best practices and strategies they have implemented to build support and carry out large infrastructure projects, upgrades, and investments. BC Hydro will discuss the approval and construction of the Site C Clean Energy Project, one of the largest construction projects in western Canada. LADWP will provide an overview of the outreach strategy, challenges and temporary solutions identified in an effort to build a new permanent power distribution station in a community with limited siting options. Puget Sound Energy share the details of their Energize Eastside project, which entails the construction of a new substation and upgrade to approximately 16 miles of transmission lines within a fast-growing corridor. 

5:30 PM - 8:00 PM

WEI Hosted Networking Dinner

Join us for dinner in downtown LA at Café Pinot.

700 W 5th St
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Friday, February 8, 2019

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Networking Breakfast

Continental breakfast will be provided onsite at LADWP.

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Executive-Employee Two-Way Communications
Speaker(s): Alex Abplanalp, Internal Communications Officer, Tacoma Power, Maral Lotfian, Manager, Employee Communications, FortisBC

Tacoma Power and FortisBC will provide an overview of their campaigns to improve executive-employee communications. They will share examples of different initiatives that they have implemented and strategies to increase executive buy-in.

9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Networking Break

9:15 AM - 10:10 AM

Messaging in a Decarbonized or 100% Renewable World

In this roundtable discussion, utilities will share their unique approaches and messaging examples related to the communication of the current and future energy resource portfolios and goals.

10:10 AM - 10:20 AM

Networking Break

10:20 AM - 10:50 AM

Communicating during a Natural Gas Shortage
Speaker(s): Diana Sorace, Corporate Communications Advisor, FortisBC

An October 2018 Enbridge pipeline rupture caused significant disruption to the gas system that serves the Pacific Northwest region, including restricted gas flow into the market and corresponding increases to the market price for available gas supply. FortisBC will provide an update on the strategies and the lessons learned from their experience communicating with customers and stakeholders about the incident and the resulting gas shortage that affected their system.

10:50 AM - 12:00 PM

Hot Topic Roundtable

Attendees will have a chance to ask questions directly to their peers for feedback.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Lunch and Planning for Next Steps

Catered lunch will be provided onsite at LADWP as we discuss the agenda for the next Corporate Communications Forum: September 5-6 in Seattle, Washington.

Hotel + Travel

  • This 1923 beaux arts-inspired grande dame is a 10-minute walk from both the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art, and 2 blocks from the Pershing Square rail station. Refined rooms with plantation shutters offer WiFi (fee), satellite TV and marble baths.
  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (213) 612-1575 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute (WEI) and use the discount code ‘1902ENRGY9’ to receive a special rate of $185 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until January 18, 2019 or until the WEI room block is full.

Meet The Speakers

Lindsay Walker Hobson

ENSTAR Natural Gas Company

Communications Manager
Learn More

I joined ENSTAR in 2015 as the Manager of Communications. In this position, I manage all internal and external company communications. I also provide support to ENSTAR’s legal and regulatory departments. Before joining ENSTAR, I was an oil & gas attorney at a local law firm. I graduated from Southern Oregon University in 2004 with a double major in communications and Spanish. I graduated from Gonzaga Law in 2007. My family moved from Oregon back to Alaska in 2010. My husband and I have an eleven year-old daughter and a 9 year-old son. We are avid Oregon Ducks and Gonzaga Bulldog fans and enjoy skiing, fishing, and camping throughout Alaska.

Cara Chatfield

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Manager, Corporate Communications

Anna Deeley

BC Hydro

Communications Manager, Site C

Stephanie Spicer

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

Manager of Community Affairs

Michelle Figueroa

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

Manager of Corporate Communications

Keri Pravitz

Puget Sound Energy

Community Projects Manager

Brandon Young

BC Hydro

Digital Communications Manager

Alex Abplanalp

Tacoma Power

Internal Communications Officer

Maral Lotfian


Manager, Employee Communications

Diana Sorace


Corporate Communications Advisor