Operations Business Strategies (Oct 18-19)

Designed for electric utility executives, participants engage in best practice roundtables to address electric distribution system and substation reliability and safety. Members share benchmarking and performance study results spanning safety, workforce management, infrastructure improvements and overall performance excellence. The small size of this program provides a unique environment for collaborative thinking, open discourse and building long-term relationships.

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Mansur Bitar, Director, Distribution for EPCOR Distribution and Transmission Inc.

    • Program Location
    • Rancho Bernardo Inn
    • 17550 Bernardo Oak Drive
      San Diego, CA 92128
    • Who Should Attend
    • Participation is restricted to senior leaders of WEI energy member companies. This strategic forum is designed for vice presidents, directors of electric operations and general managers responsible for maintaining system reliability.

  • Registration Options
  • Member: $699 USD

    Registration price goes up $100 after October 4, 2017. Registration includes comprehensive meeting materials and all food events. 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.

  • 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.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

12:30 PM - 1:00 PM


1:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Welcome and Introductions
Speaker(s): Mansur Bitar, Director, Distribution, EPCOR Distribution and Transmission Inc.

1:15 PM - 2:45 PM

Current Challenges and Opportunities Roundtable
Facilitator(s): Mansur Bitar, Director, Distribution, EPCOR Distribution and Transmission Inc.

What challenges and successes are at the forefront of Operations for your company?

2:45 PM - 3:00 PM


3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Safety presentations and roundtable
Facilitator(s): John Sullivan, Director of Smart Meter Deployment Project, Portland General Electric
Speaker(s): Manny Albert, Director, Safety & Environment, FortisAlberta

5:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Welcome Reception and Dinner

Thursday, October 19, 2017

7:00 AM - 8:00 AM


8:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Performance Metrics Presentations/Survey
Speaker(s): David Lebeter, Vice President, Field & Grid Operations, BC Hydro, Mike Schmit, General Manager - Construction, NorthWestern Energy

9:15 AM - 10:00 AM

Outage Notification Presentation
Speaker(s): David Howell, Director, Electric Operations, Avista Corp.

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM


10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Cable Replacement Strategies
Speaker(s): Wayne Wisdom, Sr. Director, Distribution Grid Services, Salt River Project, David Lamb, General Manager, Distribution Line Operations, Portland General Electric

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


1:00 PM - 2:45 PM

Operations Roundtable and Presentations
Facilitator(s): David Lamb, General Manager, Distribution Line Operations, Portland General Electric

2:45 PM - 3:00 PM


3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Infrastructure Roundtable
Facilitator(s): Ben Hendry, Cynthia Garcia, Senior Director Transmission & Distribution Operations, TEP

4:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Brainstorm Topics for Spring Meeting
Facilitator(s): Mansur Bitar, Director, Distribution, EPCOR Distribution and Transmission Inc.

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Reception (dinner on your own)

Hotel + Travel

  • Rancho Bernardo Inn is a place that is as warm and welcoming as home – but better! Every element, each experience and all of the details have been thought out to perfection. Our resort in San Diego is a place to play, to relax, to unwind, to reconnect, to enjoy and to rejuvenate. Other Rancho Bernardo hotels just can’t compete.
  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (800) 542-6096 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 October 3, 2017 or until the WEI room block is full.

Meet The Speakers

Mansur Bitar

EPCOR Distribution and Transmission Inc.

Director, Distribution

David Lebeter

BC Hydro

Vice President, Field & Grid Operations
Learn More

Graduating from UBC in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Forest Engineering David spent the first 23 years of his career in the Forest Industry. In 1986 he moved into lumber manufacturing, working and living in several communities in British Columbia. During this time David progressed through mill management culminating as Mill Manager. As Mill Manager he was responsible for all aspects of operation including safety, profitability, customer and product selection. Returning to Vancouver in 1991 David joined the Executive Masters of Business Administration program at SFU, graduating in 1994.

In 2003, on behalf of International Forest Products, David started a wholly owned subsidiary in the People’s Republic of China. The enterprise engaged in manufacturing engineered lumber products for the Japanese and Chinese markets.

In January 2005 David joined BC Hydro as General Manager, Peace River Generation. Over the next two and a half years he held positions of increasing responsibility within Generation. Midway through 2007 he assumed responsibility for Generation Operations. This department was responsible for the safe and efficient operation of BC Hydro’s generation stations, Dam Safety, Asset Management, Environmental & Social Issues and Resource Management.

In November 2010 David joined Transmission & Distribution as the Vice President of Field Operations & Safety. FO maintains, operates, and restores approximately 18,000 kilometres of transmission line and 57,000 kilometers of distribution line in BC Hydro’s service area. As Vice President, David oversees a scope of work that includes distribution service connections, meeting the needs of customers, building new infrastructure, restoring outages, maintaining and operating the distribution and transmission system, including non-integrated areas, and more.

Michael Schmit

NorthWestern Energy

General Manager - Construction

David Lamb

Portland General Electric

General Manager, Distribution Line Operations

Wayne Wisdom

Salt River Project

Sr. Director, Distribution Grid Services
Learn More

Wayne Wisdom is the Senior Director of Distribution Grid Services for the Salt River Project (SRP). His area is responsible for performing Maintenance and Reliability Improvement functions and providing Support Services for SRP’s Electric Distribution System.

Wayne joined SRP in 1986 and has served in a variety of engineering and management positions in transmission and distribution.

Wayne holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Arizona and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Arizona.

David Howell

Avista Corp.

Director, Electric Operations

John Sullivan

Portland General Electric

Director of Smart Meter Deployment Project
Learn More

John has over 30 years of experience in power plant construction, operation and maintenance as well as electrical transmission and distribution system design. He currently heads up PGE’s AMI/Smart Meter Project, where he is responsible for the deployment of the company’s 827K Smart Meters and the Sensus Flexnet 2 way communication system. The Smart Meter Project is a two year $155M capital Project. John also was the Director of the Cascade Crossing Transmission Project; 210 mile double circuit 500kV line. Previous positions include design engineer, construction engineer and project engineer, as well as various engineering management and consultant positions at companies such as Pacific Gas and Electric, Westinghouse, Pacific Engineering, WPPSS, TVA and Ontario Hydro.

John is the Past Chair and served on the Executive Board of the Oregon Joint Use Association (OJUA). He also chaired the Dispute Resolution Committee. John has served on the Planning Committee for the Western Energy Institute Joint Use Conf. He has represented the Joint Use Industry in both legal and regulatory proceedings in the State of Oregon. He served on both the LineSoft and ITRON users group Boards representing joint use interests in the development of engineering software applications. He has attended the University of Idaho Public Utility Executive Course, Willamette University Utility Management Certificate Program, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and has an under graduate degree from Washington State University and a graduate degree from University of Oregon. John is also involved in the community and has served as a volunteer in the Portland Public Schools and the Oregon Food Bank, as well as a past Board member of the Dougy Center for grieving children.

Manny Albert


Director, Safety & Environment

Cynthia Garcia


Senior Director Transmission & Distribution Operations