Operations Conference – Virtual (Apr 15-16)

The WEI Operations Conference brings together over 600 electric and natural gas energy operations senior leaders, managers, supervisors, and front-line employees for three days of education and networking, with breakout discussions for specific operations functions, including: (1) Damage Prevention; (2) Operational Leadership; (3) Workforce Development; (4) Safety + Health; (5) Safety Management Systems; (6) Asset Management; (7) NG D&T Construction + Maintenance; (8) NG D&T Emergency Response + Restoration; (9) NG D&T Integrity Management; (10) NG Green Future; (11) NG Operational Excellence; (12) Evolving Grid Operations; (13) Electric Distribution; (14) Electric Substation; (15) Electric Transmission; (16) Wildfire. The breakout sessions are complemented by thought-provoking general sessions by industry leaders and professional keynote speakers. This conference is a must for any professional in the energy business. Limited vendor display booth registrations and sponsorship opportunities are available.

Register Now

General Details

Western Energy Institute takes the health and safety of our employees and members very seriously. With safety as our top priority, this program is being offered in a virtual format. No hotel or travel is required. If you have any questions, please contact the Program Manager directly.

Program Chair
Lance Elroy, Director, Process Improvement and Operations Technology, MDU Utilities Group

Who Should Attend
Electric and Natural Gas Energy Operations:
• Vice Presidents
• Directors
• Managers
• Supervisors
• Front line employees
• Control professionals
• Engineering professionals
• Planning personnel
• Substation professionals
• Electric transmission professionals
• Asset Management professionals
• Renewable Gas engineering and policy leaders
• Electric personnel responsible for wildfire mitigation, planning, and response

WEI Operations Virtual 2020 Speaker FAQ

Registration Options
Attendee: $299 USD
Registration provides full access to conference sessions, meeting materials, and roster (through conference app).

General Cancellation Policy
WEI will be waiving the standard cancellation policy for this program and other programs occurring in March, April, May, and June 2020. Registrants can receive a full refund of their fee if requested up to the day before the program occurs for increased flexibility due to the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation. This applies both to new and existing registrations. This also applies to any registration fees paid for virtual program formats.

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 Eric Christenson, Director of Program Curriculum + Analytics at (971) 303-2118.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM (PT)
Welcome + Virtual Conference Guide
Speaker: Lance Elroy, Director, Operations Systems and Continuous Improvement, MDU Utilities Group

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM (PT)
Concurrent Track Sessions – 1-A
Operational Leadership – Effective Leadership: Leadership Lessons for First-timers or Seasoned Veterans
Electric Transmission – Innovative Tools
Evolving Grid Operations – What to do with a DER?
Asset Management – Roadmap for AI-Enabled Asset Management Decision-Making
Safety + Health – Partnering to Grow Safety
Damage Prevention – Using Predictive Analytics to Identify High-Risk Excavations and Prevent Damage
NG D&T Emergency Response + Restoration – Broken and Blowing
NG D&T Integrity Management – Mitigation Tactics for an Aging Pipeline Infrastructure

10:30 AM – 12:00 PM (PT)
Concurrent Track Sessions – 1-B
Workforce Development – Digital Transformation
Wildfire – The Burning Question – How to Quantify Wildfire Risk
Electric Distribution – Cool Tools
Electric Substation – Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) and Switchgear Cubicle Safety
Safety Management Systems (SMS) – Managing by Influence
NG Operational Excellence – GPS Referencing – Assets Traceability and Tracking
NG D&T Construction + Maintenance – Recruiting, Training, Developing and Retaining Great Employees in Construction
NG Green Future – Renewable Natural Gas 101

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM (PT)
Lunchtime Keynote: Working and Leading a Remote Workforce
Speaker: Beth Ziesenis, Author, Speaker, Nerd
In the spring of 2020, we are all looking at each other at work and saying, “What just happened?!” The changes in the workplace today are prompting teams to learn how to work remotely.

Beth Z, Your Nerdy Best Friend and our upcoming keynote speaker, will share her expertise on how to work remotely successfully and lead your teams. She will provide tech tips and insights into the apps that make remote work fun and productive. And, of course, the session will be remote as well!

Keynote speaker sponsored by:

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM (PT)
Concurrent Track Sessions – 2-A
Operational Leadership – Swimming Lessons for Leadership: Staying afloat, whether you’ve jumped off the deep end or stuck on the shore of leadership
Electric Transmission – How Utilities Address Wildfires Proactively Through Transmission Line Design
Evolving Grid Operations – DER/DERMS – The Race to Manage DERs Before They Create Operational Havoc
Asset Management – Risk-Based Asset Management
Safety + Health – Hidden Hazards: Wildfire Smoke, Legionnaires, and Indoor Heat
Damage Prevention – How GPS and Process Improvements are Improving Map Accuracy and Reducing Damages
NG D&T Emergency Response + Restoration – AC/DC Live: The Assault on Natural Gas
NG D&T Integrity Management – Back to the Future of Non-Destructive Examination

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM (PT)
Concurrent Track Sessions – 2-B
Workforce Development – Breaking the Sound Barrier to Competency
Wildfire – Take Action! – Best Practices for Wildfire Mitigation
Electric Distribution – Service Provider Alignment: The SPA Treatment
Electric Substation – Substation Security: Cyber and Physical Security Threats
Safety Management Systems (SMS) – Creating a Cultural Shift – Socializing SMS and Process Safety
NG Operational Excellence – Your Playbook for Winning the Talent Game
NG D&T Construction + Maintenance – Gas Capture, Cross Compression, Flaring and Blowdowns
NG Green Future – Hydrogen – The Key to Unlocking Methane’s Renewable Potential

Thursday, April 16, 2020

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM (PT)
Day Two Open and Keynote

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM (PT)
Concurrent Track Sessions – 3-A
Operational Leadership – Building Your Leadership Bench Strength, with Insight from the Coach’s Corner
Electric Transmission – What is EPC: A Panel on the Pros, the Cons, and Everything In-Between
Evolving Grid Operations – Achieving Situational Awareness in the Electric Grid: Why should enhanced situation awareness be a priority for your utility?
Asset Management – Battle of the X’s
Safety + Health – How to Apply Human Performance Best Practices to Your Business
Damage Prevention – Partnering with Excavators to Reduce Damages
NG D&T Emergency Response + Restoration – Mutual Aid – The Merrimack Valley Incident
NG D&T Integrity Management – RNG – Public Perception, Policy and System Integrity

10:30 AM – 12:00 PM (PT)
Concurrent Track Sessions – 3-B
Workforce Development – Workforce Development from Hire to Retire
Wildfire – PSPS – De-Energization of Electric Circuits for Fire Prevention
Electric Distribution – Reliability and Aging Infrastructure
Electric Substation – Distributed Energy Resource Impacts on Substation Operations
Safety Management Systems (SMS) – MOC Case Studies
NG Operational Excellence – Innovative Gas Leak Investigation/Mitigation Approach
NG D&T Construction + Maintenance – To Permit or Not to Permit
NG Green Future – Methane Emission Reductions: Goals, Commitments, and Strategies

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM (PT)
Lunch Break

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM (PT)
Concurrent Track Sessions – 4-A
Operational Leadership – Getting Rid of Them: Using Change Management to Work Across Silos and Get Buy-In
Electric Transmission – Mega-Projects Overview; Challenges and Lessons Learned
Evolving Grid Operations – System Operator of the Future
Asset Management – Utilizing Innovation and Technology to Manage Infrastructure
Safety + Health – The Silent Near Miss
Damage Prevention – Navigating Behaviors
NG D&T Emergency Response + Restoration – Natural Disasters – Up the Creek Without a Paddle
NG D&T Integrity Management – Corrosion Integrity Management

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM (PT)
Concurrent Track Sessions – 4-B
Workforce Development – Flexibility for the Modern Workforce
Wildfire – Emergency Response – Utility Integration during Fire Events
Electric Distribution – Managing Emerging Customer Connections
Electric Substation – Cultivating the Growth of Substation Personnel
Safety Management Systems (SMS) – Preventing Unplanned Events – Establishing Leading Performance Indicators
NG Operational Excellence – Look Forward Technology: What is the next cutting-edge device?
NG D&T Construction + Maintenance – Don’t Feel the Pressure
NG Green Future – Design and Operation of RNG Interconnect Stations

4:00 PM – 4:30 PM (PT)
Conference Close – PDT Appreciation + 2021 Planning


This event will now be held in a virtual format. Hotel and travel arrangements will not be required to attend.

If you previously made hotel reservations for this event and need to cancel them, we’ve included the contact information for the hotel below for your convenience. If you have additional questions about this event, please contact the Program Manager directly.

Hyatt Place
1024 W. Bannock St
Boise, ID 83702
Phone: 208.991.5275

Hampton Inn and Suites
495 S. Capitol Blvd
Boise, ID 83702
Phone: 208.331.1900

Residence Inn
400 S. Capitol Blvd
Boise, ID 83702
Phone: 208.424.9999

The Grove
245 S. Capitol Blvd
Boise, ID 83702
Phone: 208.333.8000

Hotel 43
981 West Grove Street
Boise, ID 83702
Phone: 208.342.4622


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

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

Meet The Speakers

Beth Ziesenis

Your Nerdy Best Friend

Author, Speaker, Nerd
Learn More

Beth is a technology expert who speaks to 60-plus groups a year all over the country about the best free and bargain apps and online resources that will help you Release YOUR Inner Nerd to become more organized, efficient and awesome at work and home. Her books, including the latest title, Release Your Inner Nerd, are available on Amazon.com.

Since her first Commodore 64 computer, Beth has made a verb out of the word “nerd,” and is almost as obsessed with gadgets and doodads as she is with cupcakes.

Lance Elroy

MDU Utilities Group

Director, Operations Systems and Continuous Improvement
Learn More

Lance Elroy is the Director of Process Improvement and Operations Technology for MDU Utilities Group. His 23+ years of experience includes leadership and management roles in corporate operations, consulting, marketing, industrial services, district management and utility technology. Lance has an MBA from Idaho State University and BA in Business from the College of Idaho. He currently resides in Boise, Idaho with his wife Beth and two sons, Jared and Lucas.

Alejandro Toyofusa Komai

Southern California Edison

Predictive Analytics/Data Science, Advisor
Learn More

Alejandro Toyofusa Komai, Ph.D. is a statistical data scientist at Southern California Edison. He has applied machine learning algorithms to predict asset failure, to help set annual goals, and to provide prioritized scoping of covered conductor to reduce wildfire risk. In his previous role at Edison, he developed the company’s residential solar adoption forecast and the community choice aggregation forecast. After completing his doctorate in economics from UC Irvine in 2015, Alejandro joined Edison directly from graduate school. He also holds a masters in economics from UCLA, a bachelors in economics from UC Irvine, and a bachelors in mathematics from UC Irvine. He really liked Irvine.