Emergency Response + Assistance Practices (Apr 22-23)

Emergency preparedness and business continuity planning is crucial to a timely response to business disruptions whether they are caused by weather impacts, cyber attacks, or equipment malfunction. This forum provides an open discussion on pressing topics surrounding utility emergency planning and operations. Through this forum leaders develop relationships and insights that prove beneficial in an emergency. The Emergency Response + Assistance Practices program is open to utilities and service providers.

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General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Tracey Latipow, Director, Emergency Preparedness & Response, Strategy and Execution at Pacific Gas and Electric Company

    • Program Location
    • Oakland Marriott City Center
    • 1001 Broadway, Oakland, California 94607
    • Who Should Attend
      • Operations managers
      • Emergency management coordinators
      • Disaster recovery planners
      • Directors of business continuity planning
      • Emergency preparedness supervisors
      • Managers of emergency services
      • Emergency planning and response specialists
      • Safety specialists
      • Parties to the Western Region Mutual Assistance Agreement
      • Service company members
  • Registration Options
  • Member: $649 USD
    Non-Member: $999 USD

    Member registration price increases $100 after March 22, 2024. Registration includes full conference access and digital program materials through the app. Guest tickets are available for $99 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.

    Registration to the Emergency Response + Assistance Practices program provides a $100 discount for registration to the Operations Conference. A discount code will be included in your registration confirmation for ERAP, which you can use when you register for the Operations Conference.

  • 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. Recording is not permitted for any portion of the event.
  • For more information contact Marco Henkel, Program Manager at (971) 393-3250.


Sunday, April 21, 2024

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Pre-Event Social Mixer

Join us for informal gathering and mingle and network in a relaxed atmosphere at the Iron & Oak Restaurant and Bar, conveniently located within Oakland Marriott City Center. Whether you're reconnecting with old friends or making new connections, this social mixer sets the stage for a collaborative event experience. Please note, this is an unsponsored and unhosted gathering, solely for attendees to enjoy each other's company before the main event.

Monday, April 22, 2024

8:00 AM - 4:30 PM


Pick up your name tag and meet the WEI staff. Need to register a colleague? On-site registration will be available. Participants of the optional tour to the HAWC need to check in by 8:15 AM.

8:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Inside HAWC: Tour of the Hazard Awareness & Warning Center (optional)

The Hazard Awareness and Warning Center (HAWC) is PG&E’s hub for collecting and distributing information on hazards in the service territory. Utilizing a variety of tools, resources, and relationships, the HAWC team monitors for hazards 24/7/365. Tools and resources include Satellite detections, Wildfire cameras with AI fire detection, a variety of social media and official data feeds among others. Leveraging the expertise of the HAWC team, Geosciences, Meteorology and field personnel, the HAWC provides situational awareness for PG&E regarding monitored hazards. Transportation provided by PG&E.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Networking Lunch

Join us for a Networking and Welcome Lunch — an opportunity to connect with fellow attendees and kick off our event on a high note. Enjoy a delicious meal while mingling with industry professionals, exchanging ideas, and forging new relationships. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or new to the scene, this relaxed and welcoming atmosphere is the perfect setting to start building valuable connections.

1:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Opening + Welcome Remarks
Speaker(s): Tracey Vardas, Director, Pacific Gas and Electric Company

In the opening remarks, led by PG&E (event chair) and WEI, attendees are warmly welcomed to the Emergency Response Assistance Practices Forum. The focus is on fostering collaboration and sharing best practices in emergency response within the energy industry.

1:15 PM - 2:30 PM

Lessons Learned and Strategic Insights from the Maui Wildfires
Speaker(s): Lydia Mertyris, Manager, Safety and Emergency Planning and Preparedness, Hawaiian Electric Company

The session on the Maui wildfires will discuss the IMT activation and response, highlight insights from the After-Action Report (AAR) and lessons learned process. We’ll also discuss requests through WRMAG, and coordination with FEMA and HI-EMA.

2:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Networking Break

2:45 PM - 4:00 PM

A Journey through Recent Events and Emergency Responses
Facilitator(s): Joanna Stelzig, Public Relations Manager, Tillamook PUD
Speaker(s): Nick Labadie, Sr Field Manager, BC Hydro, Taras M Sandulak, Manager, Emergency Management & Business Continuity, FortisBC, Mark Raimer, Operations Manager, Emerald PUD, Eric Moore, Line Working Foreman, Tillamook PUD

In this session, we explore utility responses to two major natural disasters: the 2023 British Columbia wildfires and the 2024 Pacific Northwest ice storm. From battling wildfires to navigating icy conditions, utilities faced significant challenges in maintaining infrastructure and restoring services. Through case studies and firsthand experiences, we uncover innovative strategies and collaborative efforts employed by utilities to mitigate damage and expedite recovery.

4:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Tabletop Exercise: Process Overview + Player Brief
Speaker(s): Michael Levasseur, Emergency Management Specialist, Pacific Gas and Electric Company

This session will feature a detailed overview of the process of tomorrow's "Major Event Tabletop Exercise" along with thorough briefing for all participants.

4:30 PM - 4:45 PM

WRMAA Update
Speaker(s): Joanna Stelzig, Public Relations Manager, Tillamook PUD

For WRMAA signatory companies only.

4:45 PM - 6:15 PM

Networking Reception

Join us for a hosted networking reception at the end of day one of our event, sponsored by Black&McDonald.
This is the perfect opportunity to unwind, reflect on the day's insights, and connect with fellow attendees. Enjoy drinks and hors d'oeuvres as you engage in lively conversations and forge new relationships. We look forward to seeing you there as we continue to build connections and foster collaboration for a successful day two!

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

7:00 AM - 8:00 AM


Kick off day 2 with a hot breakfast from our breakfast buffet

7:00 AM - 12:00 PM


8:00 AM - 9:30 AM

Strengthening Preparedness: Major Event Tabletop Exercise
Facilitator(s): Andrew Hagen, Emergency Preparedness and Public Safety Manager, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Michael Levasseur, Emergency Management Specialist, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Tracey Vardas, Director, Pacific Gas and Electric Company

We will delve into a comprehensive simulation involving both gas and electric utilities. In this session, participants will navigate through a major event timeline, exploring various responses and mutual assistance strategies. Through realistic scenarios and interactive discussions, attendees will have the opportunity to assess their preparedness, coordination, and communication during catastrophic incidents. This exercise will provide valuable insights into enhancing collaboration between utilities and stakeholders, optimizing response efforts, and leveraging mutual assistance resources effectively.

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Networking Break

Join us for a sponsored networking break courtesy of Storm Services LLC. Revitalize and energize during your morning break by socializing with other participants, savoring some refreshments, and forging valuable connections.

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Strengthening Preparedness: Major Event Tabletop Exercise

Join us for part 2 as we dive deeper into the exercise. Let's pick up where we left off and continue the conversation.

10:45 AM - 11:30 AM

Industry Topic

11:15 AM - 11:30 AM

Exercise Hotwash

Review and analysis session to evaluate performance, identify lessons learned, and enhance future preparedness.

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Networking Lunch

After an engaging morning simulating a major event response, recharge and network over lunch. Share insights, exchange ideas, and connect with fellow participants as you reflect on the morning's exercise and discussions. This is an excellent opportunity to build relationships and expand your professional network in a relaxed and informal setting.

12:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Powering Resilience: Innovations in Utility Emergency Response Technologies
Speaker(s): John Padilla, Emergency Management Program Manager, Salt River Project, Nick Labadie, Sr Field Manager, BC Hydro

Discover how smart meters, drones, and AI are reshaping crisis response and management. We'll showcase BC Hydro's smart meter utilization during storms, SRP and BC Hydro's drone deployments for damage assessment and aid delivery, and SRP's AI-driven wildfire mitigation strategies. Gain insights into these transformative technologies and their role in building a safer, more resilient future.

1:45 PM - 2:15 PM

Networking Break

Join us for a sponsored networking break courtesy of Collective Strategic Resources, part of PowerGrid Services. Refresh and recharge while mingling with fellow attendees, enjoy refreshments and make valuable connections.

2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

Establishing and Managing Emergency Response Strike Teams
Speaker(s): Thomas Jacobus, Principal Manager, Southern California Edison

This session will explore the critical aspects of setting up and effectively managing strike teams for emergency response scenarios. Learn from industry leaders and experts as they share best practices, challenges, and innovative strategies for ensuring swift and efficient responses during crises. Gain valuable insights into team composition, training, communication strategies, and coordination with local authorities. Don't miss this opportunity to exchange ideas and network with peers to enhance your organization's emergency preparedness and response capabilities.

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

Open Roundtable Discussion

We will review the topics discussed during the conference and via a roundtable address any topics that need further discussion. All are encouraged to engage and share experiences, best practices, and solutions.

4:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Wrap Up + Closing Remarks

5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

2024 'Operations Conference' Welcome Reception

Join us for an exclusive opportunity to network at the 2024 Operations Conference Welcome Reception. Open to all ERAP attendees, this reception promises an evening of connection and camaraderie. Enjoy refreshments, mingle with industry professionals, and kickstart valuable conversations in a welcoming atmosphere. Whether you're here for the 'Operations Conference' or simply looking to expand your network, this reception sets the stage for meaningful interactions and collaboration. We look forward to welcoming you!

Hotel + Travel

  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (510) 451-4000 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute (WEI) to receive a special rate of $264 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until March 25, 2024 or until the WEI room block is full.

  • Additional Accommodations
  • Courtyard Oakland Downtown
    988 Broadway
    Oakland, CA 94607
    Phone: (510) 625-8282

    Reservation Instructions
    Make your reservations online or by calling the hotel directly at 510-625-8282. Identify yourself as being with the Western Energy Institute to receive a special rate of $209 USD per night plus state and local taxes. This rate is guaranteed until March 29, 2024 or until the WEI room block is full.

Program Sponsors

Thank you to our program sponsors!


Meet The Speakers

Lydia Mertyris

Hawaiian Electric Company

Manager, Safety and Emergency Planning and Preparedness

Joanna Stelzig

Tillamook PUD

Public Relations Manager

John Padilla

Salt River Project

Emergency Management Program Manager

Nick Labadie

BC Hydro

Sr Field Manager

TM Sandulak


Manager, Emergency Management & Business Continuity

Tracey Vardas

Pacific Gas and Electric Company


Michael Levasseur

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Emergency Management Specialist

Andrew Hagen

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Emergency Preparedness and Public Safety Manager

Thomas Jacobus

Southern California Edison

Principal Manager

Mark Raimer

Emerald PUD

Operations Manager

Eric Moore

Tillamook PUD

Line Working Foreman