Overhead Underground Electric Distribution – Virtual (Sep 28-30)

Electric utility professionals meet to discuss current standards, materials and maintenance for mainly distribution operations. Agendas feature extensive roundtable discussion so that each delegate has an opportunity to submit questions and receive feedback from their peers. Presentations focus on new technologies, applications, and specifications available for designing, building and maintaining overhead and underground lines. Case studies highlight best practices and lessons learned, and attendees leave with the practical knowledge to improve efficiency, safety and reduce costs. Participants also have the opportunity to preview vendor products and services. Vendors are encouraged to display.

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General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Jeff Budke, Senior Standards Engineer, Avista Corp

    • Program Location
    • Virtual Event
    • No travel required. All agenda times are in Pacific time. Instructions to access the virtual event will be provided before the program.
    • Who Should Attend
      • Standards engineers
      • Design engineers
      • Line technicians and engineers
      • Reliability and quality testers
      • T&D supervisors and suppliers
      • Operations and maintenance managers
      • Suppliers of distribution and substation products and services
  • Registration Options
  • Member: $199 USD
    Regular: $299 USD

    Registration includes attendance to all presentations, roundtable sessions, vendor area, comprehensive meeting materials and all food events.

  • General Cancellation Policy
  • To best serve WEI members and program participants during the COVID-19 pandemic, WEI will be waiving its standard cancellation policy for this program and all virtual programs through July 2021. Registrants can now receive a full refund should they need to cancel their registration up to the day before the program begins. This applies to both new and existing registrations for virtual programs.
  • 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 Traci Pepper, Program Manager at (971) 303-1004.


All session times are listed in Pacific time.

Monday, September 28, 2020

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Happy Hour

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Welcome & Introductions

Conference Chair will welcome everyone to the opening of the confrence and introduce keynote speaker

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

LED Lighting
Speaker(s): Richard Stark, Senior Engineer, Idaho Power Company

Hear about basic lighting design concepts, common terms in the lighting industry and LED light fixture specifications. Also hear about the implementation of LED street and area lighting at Idaho Power and lessons learned.

9:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Switchgear Insulation Comparison
Speaker(s): Craig Befus, BC Utility Sales Manager, Eaton Corp.

Craig Befus will provide an overview of vault and pad-mounted medium voltage dead front switchgear designs using SF6, oil and solid dielectric insulation. We will briefly review available options and configurations from the various manufacturers, and IEEE standards covering the design and testing requirements. We will also talk about options and trade-offs to be evaluated to meet specific utility application requirements including automation and SCADA control.

10:30 AM - 10:40 AM

Stretch Break

10:40 AM - 12:00 PM

Underground/Overhead Practices, Product, and Safety Roundtable

Submit your roundtable questions to be included in the Practices, Product + Safety Roundtable discussions. Your questions will be compiled by area of interest and presented at the roundtable sessions, which includes supporting information or documentation necessary. Questions can be emailed directly to Rick Stark at

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

8:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Wildfire Mitigation Strategies Utilizing Existing and Emerging Technologies
Speaker(s): John Lauletta, CEO, Exacter, Inc., Brett Efaw, Statistician, Idaho Power Company

Electrical system owners and operators worldwide are exploring strategies and emerging technologies to improve distribution system resiliency for wildfire prevention and mitigation. This panel session will explore three specific opportunities that utilities can utilize to successfully reduce total ignition events and ignition events per fault occurrence as a way of enhancing public safety and improving system performance:
1. Optimizing existing distribution system equipment, operational technology and protection strategies (sometimes at the expense of reliability and customer satisfaction).
2. Utilizing Data Analytics to adjust operational settings, develop equipment deployment methodologies and evaluate system performance.
3. Incorporating new and advanced technologies to further improve fault detection, reduce fault clearing times, and help prevent additional faults.
The panel will also explore the question “Do we need quantitative resiliency metrics to measure system resiliency going forward similarly to how electrical distribution system reliability is now measured?”

9:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Underground/ Overhead Practices, Product, and Safety Roundtable

10:15 AM - 10:20 AM

Stretch Break

10:20 AM - 11:20 AM

Crypto Currency
Speaker(s): Andy Wendell, Director of Customer Service and Stakeholder Outreach, Chelan County PUD

This presentation will cover cryptocurrency mining relative to utility: rates, policies, operations, engineering, etc. Please join us for a presentation that will be a blend of information covering all utility business units and a healthy Q&A session to bring attendee’s real-life situations to the team.

11:20 AM - 11:30 AM

Planning Future Topics

Group discussion on future topics

11:30 AM - 12:00 PM

OH/UG Wrap Up and Planning Meeting

Program Development Team Wrap Up Meeting – For Program Development Team members only and those interested in planning the spring meeting.

Meet The Speakers

Andy Wendell

Chelan County PUD

Director of Customer Service and Stakeholder Outreach

Craig Befus

Eaton Corp.

BC Utility Sales Manager

Richard Stark

Idaho Power Company

Senior Engineer

John Lauletta

Exacter, Inc.


John Lauletta

Exacter, Inc.

Learn More

John Lauletta has been involved in electric utility measurement technology since 1975. John’s career includes ten years with American Electric Power as Measurements Manager, 14 years as VP Scientific Columbus and since 2006 as CEO/CTO of Exacter, Inc.
John holds electrical engineering degrees from The Ohio State University and Purdue University and is the Past Chair of the Central Ohio Power and Energy Society Chapter of IEEE. John holds several patents in predictive failure technologies. John manages several research programs for IIoT sensor development for electric utility applications as Visiting Scientist at the University of Akron. John is the recipient of the 2018 PES Chapter Outstanding Engineer Award.
Exacter, Inc. is a developer of predictive technologies for electric utility reliability, grid conditions-based assessment, grid preventive maintenance, and Smart Grid network performance.

Brett Efaw

Idaho Power Company

Learn More

Brett Efaw is a Statistician at Idaho Power Company, where he provides data reporting and analytics support for various groups across the T&D Planning, Maintenance and Operations Departments. He has extensive experience and knowledge of data structures and related business applications for a variety of utility systems such as OMS, GIS and DMS. His areas of expertise include data processing and architecture for analytics purposes, data visualization and statistical modeling. He is the current chair of the Distribution Resiliency Working Group within the IEEE PES T&D Committee, Distribution Subcommittee, whose goal is to define and quantify resilience for electric distribution systems in a way that is useful and accessible to operating utilities and regulators.

Gary Huffman

Burns & McDonnell

Business Development Manager - Distribution Services
Learn More

Mr. Huffman has 30+ years of utility, electrical construction and consulting management experience and currently serves as Business Development Line Lead for Burns & McDonnell’s Distribution Modernization business line. He is the Vice Chair of the EEI Distribution Reliability Working Group, Vice Chair of the IEEE Distribution Resiliency Working Group and an active member of the IEEE Distribution and Grid Modernization Working Groups. Before joining Burns & McDonnell Mr. Huffman spent 23 years with Southern California Edison (SCE). During his tenure at SCE he successfully and safely managed utility operations, maintenance, and capital project teams in the Generation and T&D divisions. He has testified before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California Air Resources Board (CARB), and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) as an expert witness and has managed many large Transmission, Distribution and Substation planning and construction projects and programs including construction and commissioning of the Devers – Palo Verde 500kV line in Southern California. Mr. Huffman served as Program Manager for FirstEnergy’s $600M annual “Energizing the Future” transmission infrastructure program and has experience with T&D planning, design, construction, operations, regulatory policy and cost of service development and rate recovery initiatives

Jeff Budke

Avista Corp.

Senior Standards Engineer

Jeff Budke

Avista Corp.

Senior Standards Engineer

Jeff Budke

Avista Corp.

Senior Standards Engineer