Operations Conference – Virtual (Mar 23)

The WEI Operations Conference brings together hundreds of 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; Operational Leadership, Workforce Development, Safety + Health, Safety Management Systems, Asset Management, Damage Prevention, Natural Gas Green Future, Natural Gas Emergency Response + Restoration, Natural Gas Integrity Management, Natural Gas Operational Excellence, Grid Resilience, Electric Distribution, Grid of the Future, Electric Substation, and Electric Transmission. This conference is a must for any professional in the energy business.

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General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Lora Anguay, Director, Distribution Operations & Maintenance, Sacramento Municipal Utility District

    • Program Location
    • Virtual Event
    • No travel required. All agenda times are in Pacific time. Instructions to access the virtual event will be provided to the attendee before the program.
    • 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
  • Registration Options
  • Member: $199 USD
    Regular: $299 USD

    Registration includes virtual access to all agenda items and digital program materials presented on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. If you are planning to attend the in-person conference on April 19-22, 2022, please register here. In-person registration includes access to this virtual 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.
  • For more information contact Beverly Woolf, Program Manager at (503) 688-2790.


All session times are listed in Pacific time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

Virtual Help Desk + Technology Check

The room will open early with optional time for participants to get familiar with the virtual platform, test their audio and webcam, or ask questions about the agenda before we begin.

9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Welcome + Opening Remarks

9:15 AM - 10:30 AM

Breakout Sessions #1

Electric Substation Track: DERs Are Coming. Are We Ready?
Dawid Lizak, Manager, Infrastructure Advisory, METSCO Energy Solutions Inc.; Nataliya Kazakova, Senior Manager, Asset Management and System Planning, EPCOR Distribution and Transmission Inc.; Doug Houseman, Senior Management Consultant, 1898 & Co.
This panel will explore the emergence of distributed energy resources and their impact on substations. We will hear perspectives from developers and utilities. What are some of these new technologies? What are their risks and impacts to our substations and what do we need to do to prepare and plan accordingly?

Grid of the Future Track: Climate Change and Its Impacts on Utilities
Evidence of Climate Change can be seen all over the world with an increased frequency of flooding, wildfires, and other natural disasters. Join us for a discussion on how utilities are combating the effects of climate change at present, how greenhouse gas reduction targets are impacting the ability to serve peak load, and wildfire mitigation strategies.

Natural Gas Emergency Response + Restoration Track: The Mobile Command Post, Establishment and Utilization
Dallas Neville Jr., Senior Emergency Readiness Program Advisor, San Diego Gas & Electric Company; Timothy Stuber, Senior Emergency Readiness Program Advisor, San Diego Gas & Electric Company
The effective establishment of a command post for natural gas emergencies is a critical part of response, safety, and restoration. This session will cover how to effectively establish and utilize a mobile command post including location, command vehicles, and technology.

Natural Gas Operational Excellence Track: Make the 1st Move: Kick Off your Management of Change
Greyson Brenk, Senior Engineer of Integrity Management, Dominion Energy Utah; Courtney Chamness, Management of Change Coordinator, MDU Utilities Group
In an industry where pipeline safety is the forefront of each day, properly implementing technical, physical, procedural or organization changes – whether minor or major – can make or break the day. This session will encourage you to Make the 1st Move toward bettering your company's pipeline safety by implementing a Management of Change program. Showing you that whether you're taking a simplistic or an intricate approach to kicking off an MOC program, it can be a highly benefitting move to make!

Safety Management Systems Track: How Technology Is Supporting Safety Management Systems
Steve Allen, Executive Director of Pipeline Safety, ENERGY worldnet, Inc.
This session will explore the various ways that today’s technologies support the elements of a Safety Management System.  Technologies from Mobile Applications covering things such as training, communications, notifications, documentation, audit checklists, etc. to sophisticated Risk Modeling software applications enable organizations to manage and operate their companies in ways that were only dreamed of ten years ago.
Examples of discussion items for this session may include:

  • Dashboards
  • Barcodes
  • GIS
  • Project Management
  • Analytics and Data Visualization
  • Damage Prevention applications such as digital mapping and white lining
  • Advanced database design that enables the mapping of relationships between different data points or sources

The session may also explore cutting edge technologies that are being explored.

Workforce Development Track: The Dynamic Normal: Sharing Experiences Around Growth of a Hybrid Workplace
Before the global COVID-19 pandemic, many utilities required office and field employees to spend most, if not all, of their time working onsite. Many of those utilities are now working to implement a hybrid model. Salt River Project (SRP), Tacoma Power/Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU), and BC Hydro have embraced the workplace of the future and have been developing policies, procedures and content to prepare leaders and employees to be successful in a hybrid workplace. Learn about SRP’s Leadership Essentials for the Hybrid Workplace program, how TPU is working to better understand and respond to their changing culture and mitigate the growing divide between “Boots and Suits" staff, and how BC Hydro transitioned their workforce to a flexible work model after realizing the benefits of remote working.

10:30 AM - 11:00 AM


11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Breakout Sessions #2

Asset Management Track: Asset Management by the People (and For the People)
Hear about the journey of asset management in two different companies from a people-focused perspective. Learn who and what triggered the creation of the asset management department, how teams were selected and integrated as part of the company and how asset programs continue to stay relevant as the department has matured. 

Electric Distribution Track: Problems and Solutions for Making the Grid of the Future a Reality
Distributed energy resources, virtual power plants, microgrids, energy storage – many have predicted these technologies will be key to the future power grid. Utilities face many challenges as they seek to make this future a reality. In this session, you will hear from utilities carrying out cutting-edge projects, the challenges they have encountered and overcome, and how they are working to mitigate these technologies’ potential negative impacts on the grid and the utility enterprise.

Electric Transmission Track: Challenges and Choices: Transmission Project Review
Stanislav Dekic, Principal Engineer, San Diego Gas & Electric Company; Scott Ekeland, Project Engineering Manager – Transmission, Black & Veatch; Paul Mostella, Project Engineering Manager – Substation, Black & Veatch
A review of several projects where unique challenges were overcome through creative solutions from engineering, supply chain and construction personnel.

Low Carbon Fuels Track: Decarbonization: Overview of the Options
Michael Goff, Technology Manager, Black & Veatch
This session will provide an overview of technologies that are being considered by gas utilities to address decarbonization. We will hear from both utilities and engineering firms on the decarbonization technologies being considered including hydrogen, RNG, carbon capture, etc.

Natural Gas Integrity Management Track: Putting the Data Into Action: Improving the Quality & Usefulness of IM Data
Jackie Smith, Principal, Integrity Management Systems, Rosen Swiss AG; Brian Patrick, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Integration of new ILI results with previous ILI results and Pipeline records, such as GIS, offer more in-depth understanding of pipeline integrity threats.  Integrating and aligning multiple integrity datasets gives operators more information and spatial awareness so the integrity of pipeline assets can be better understood, managed, and analyzed for making informed decisions.  Inline inspection technologies have allowed ILI tools to capture data that aids in identifying specific pipeline characteristics for comparing with GIS pipeline records and to aid in defining populations, reducing the burden of the material verification process.  The adoption of Pipeline Data Standards, like PODS,  provides a stable system of record for an operator's assets, this allows for more efficient collection and exchange of pipeline information between relevant stakeholders and integrating with ILI results for more effective Integrity Management overall.  Integrating ILI data from the inspection tools with the Operators pipeline records enables valuable insight and should be part of an Operator's Integrity Management Plans.
Leak/rupture boundary model for cracks and cracklike defects:  PG&E implemented method to use integrity management data and fracture mechanics principals to delineate the line between a leak and a rupture (beyond just using operating pressure < 30% SMYS).  Data is used to inform and prioritize upcoming integrity management driven projects.  Emphasis on managing axial cracking related threats (i.e. manufacturing, selective seam weld corrosion, and axial-SCC).

Safety + Health Track: COVID: A State of Constant Change
Come join us for a chance to discuss the impact COVID has had on the health and safety of our workforce. This global pandemic has manifested profound changes in our daily life and routines. The constant changes in policies, mandates and even our work locations have left workers feeling upended, confused and frustrated. In this session, you will broaden your understanding by hearing three distinct perspectives on how COVID changes have impacted workers’ mental and physical health as well as the impact these changes have had on workers’ ability to safely continue to perform their work.

12:15 PM - 12:45 PM


12:45 PM - 2:00 PM

Breakout Sessions #3

Damage Prevention Track: Identifying High Risk Tickets
Ryan Dove, Program Manager, Damage Prevention Strategies, Southern California Gas Company; Michael Kaminski, Administrator/Damage Prevention, Southwest Gas Corporation
Southwest Gas and SoCalGas present how they each implemented 811 ticket risk scoring technology differently to quickly identify high risk excavation sites.  Learn the differences between Southwest Gas’s deployment of a vendor provided ticket risk scoring solution vs SoCalGas’s in-house developed solution and how both Companies are leveraging the risk scoring technologies to reduce excavation damages.

Grid Resilience Track: The Old, the Best, and the Risky
In this session we will discuss how utilities are approaching the aging infrastructure problem in prioritizing replacement. This includes how to be more proactive versus reactive with potential infrastructure failures, how to prioritize and balance spending on grid hardening versus grid resilience, and how to apply analysis techniques to quantify and equitably understand risk for differing options for system improvement.

Operational Leadership TrackNavigating Virtual/Remote Working After Pandemic
Lora Anguay, Chief Zero Carbon Officer, Sacramento Municipal Utility District; Steve Bullum, Power Engineering Manager, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power
A guideline for success in keeping teams together during Covid and maintaining productivity; including strategies for adapting to remote work technology and transforming office culture within a virtual environment.