Project Management + Utilities – Virtual (Sep 20-22)

WEI’s Project Management Forum brings together gas and electric utility project, program and portfolio management leadership and practitioners to discuss the latest industry trends and best practices. The diverse mix of presentations, Q&A panels, roundtable discussions and networking allow attendees to share their experiences and develop contacts in the similar roles throughout the utility industry. Expect to gain applicable insights on methodologies, techniques, tools, and change and risk management best practices related to project management. This program is an excellent professional development and organizational team-building opportunity.

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General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Jacob Reidt, Sr Manager Generation Project Delivery, 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 to the attendee before the program.
    • Who Should Attend
      • Project Management Office/Enterprise Project Office Leadership
      • Portfolio Directors and Managers
      • Project and Program Managers
      • Project Coordinators, Schedulers, Planners and Controllers
      • Service Company Project Management Leaders and Consultants
  • Registration Options
  • Member: $199 USD
    Regular: $299 USD
    Member Promotion: $149 USD (see details below)

    Registration includes virtual access to all agenda items and digital program materials.

    WEI Member Promotion
    WEI members can receive a rate of $149 each when registering 3 or more from the same company on the same order if registered on or before Tuesday, August 31, 2021. Learn more and register your group today.

  • 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 virtual program. Registrants can receive a full refund should they need to cancel their registration up to the day before the program begins. Member Promotion Cancellation Policy The promotional registration rate of $149 per person for three or more from the same company is non-refundable, but registrations can be transferred to another person from within the company up to the day before the program begins.
  • 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 Kris Taylor, Senior Program + Service Company Manager at (971) 255-4969.


All session times are listed in Pacific time.

Monday, September 20, 2021

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

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.

2:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Global Construction Survey
Speaker(s): Clay Gilge, Principal, KPMG LLP

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Networking Activities

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

7:00 AM - 8:00 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.

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Welcome + Virtual Orientation

The conference chair welcomes the attendees to the 2021 Project Management + Utilities Forum.

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Megatrends Driving the 2021 Utility Initiatives

COVID-19 has made power, water, natural gas and telecommunications more essential than ever. The ability of countless businesses, municipalities, schools, healthcare facilities and more to continue to operate in the face of lockdowns and social distancing demonstrated the flexibility found in these infrastructure systems. However, the recent proliferation of catastrophic natural wildfires, hurricanes, and late season storms underscored the growing impacts of climate change and the fragility of many infrastructure systems. This year, Black & Veatch identified three megatrends that have revealed notable shifts in trajectories and focus: 1. Customers Driving Sustainability in the C-Suite, 2. Next-Level Reliability Through Resilience, and 3. Turning Data into Action. Come listen to Black & Veatch discuss the details of their findings.

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM


10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Breakout Sessions #1

PMO Leadership Track: Project Prioritization + Portfolio Management
Speaker: Jason Adams, Seattle City Light
Faced with reduced budgets and fluctuating industry trends, organizations are increasingly challenged to select the right mix of projects for their portfolio. In this session, you will hear about the challenges and approach to project prioritization and portfolio decision-making at Seattle City Light and SMUD. Come share your portfolio management and project prioritization questions and ideas.

Construction Track: Technology at the Project Site
Speakers: Jon Malmberg, PE, Construction Manager, Bonneville Power Administration
Tyler Parker, Business Optimization Manager, Global Renewable Energy, Black & Veatch
Technology is revolutionizing how we collect and use data. Learn more about two software solutions that make utility construction projects simpler and more organized. BPA will share how they implemented their Procore roll-out. Procore is a construction management platform that helps take control of your construction projects, providing visibility every step of the way. Black & Veatch will reveal how they automate construction equipment using Built Robotics software, which upgrades heavy equipment utilizing AI guidance systems to enable machines to operate fully autonomously.

IT Track: Customer Technology Ecosystem: Creating Data Lakes to Make Decisions
Customer engagement is a critical focus for utilities which requires integrations across a diverse IT landscape.
Business transformation with a customer centric approach allows you to make important decisions that best serve your utility customers. Focusing on technology architecture designs specific to utilities, this session will present a holistic view of the IT landscape across the enterprise. Providing best practices in architecture design, integrations, and customizations, discover the key roles that IT systems play in customer engagement and the necessary integrations between those systems.

11:00 AM - 11:30 AM


11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Breakout Sessions #2

PMO Leadership Track: Long-Term Goals + Strategic Plans
Speaker: Kip Jackson, Director, Engineering & Project Management, NV Energy
To keep up with changes in our industry, PMO has had to pivot to equip PMs with different skillsets, execution approach as well as tools and processes. We will discuss PMO’s role in supporting long-term goal setting and strategic plan of the organization; and how these needs will continue to influence the evolution of PMO.

Construction Track: COVID + The Next 6-12 Months: Roundtable Discussion
What do the next 6-12 months look like at construction sites? What will the new safety protocols be going forward, as they relate to COVID? This session will be shaped in early September, using the most recent and up to date information available. Recognizing the past as one of our great educators, we will also look back so that we are better equipped to look forward.

IT Track: Modernize the Front Office: Provide a 360 View of the Customer Through SAP's Customer Experience Solutions
Speakers: Chad Leonard, Global Account Director, SAP
LaBaron Hartfield, Manager of IT Project Integration and Strategy, SMUD
Are data silos, standalone, archaic systems and manual processes standing in your way of delivering a best in class customer experience?  If so, come learn how SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) delivered a modernized platform to their front office staff and personalized Marketing campaigns across multiple channels by implementing SAP's Customer Experience solutions.  This session will provide an overview of quick wins and early benefits achieved through strategic partnerships, lessons learned along the project journey and preparation for a larger ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) transformation with SAP S/4HANA.

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Lunch Break

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Breakout Sessions #3

PMO Leadership Track: PM Teams + Culture: Roundtable Discussion
Facilitator: Jacob Reidt, Sr Manager Generation Project Delivery, Avista Corp.
Are your PMs bogged down?  Is the team feeling overwhelmed?  Let’s review some PM and PMO culture ideas on how to address this.  Our peers will share their thoughts and successes.  It might mean some more help, or different help than before.

IT Track: Cloud Products + Lessons Learned: Roundtable Discussion
Speakers: Diane Perry, Senior Manager Operations Systems, Puget Sound Energy
Phillip Virnoche, Cloud Security Engineer, Avista
Rosie Sordo, Senior IT Business Analyst, Puget Sound Energy
Trevor Lamb, Business Tech Program Manager, Sacramento Municipal Utility District
Has being in the cloud left you in a fog? You're now living in the cloud, what have you learned? This is an open discussion of what utilities have modified in their daily practices. We have a panel to get the conversation started, covering these components: contracts & licensing, overall project changes, security, and financial.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Breakout Sessions #4

PMO Leadership Track: Measuring Impacts
Speaker: Blain Nichols, Director, Project Management, NorthWestern Energy
How do you measure and show success on a PMO basis for corporate initiatives or programs? This session will showcase a couple of different approaches at different utilities and their approach to this.

Construction Track: Emergency Response + Secondary Effects
Emergency response capabilities are at the core of utility operations. In this session, hear from utility leaders on how they structure and manage emergency response programs to deal with the increasing frequency and severity of emergencies, many weather-related, to the utility system. Presenters will share their utility’s journeys and how they’ve evolved their program to deal with recent events.

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM


10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Breakout Sessions #5

Construction Track: Project Showcase
Hear from a handful of members as they highlight a recently completed project that showcases innovation and added value, while speaking to a risk that they overcame. Presentations will be selected by the Program Development Team. To submit a project for consideration: please email, by June 21, 2021, a brief description of your project with any supporting documents/links to

IT Track: Portfolio Tool Implementations: Lessons Learned
Speakers: Blain Nichols, Director, Project Management, NorthWestern Energy
Christina Kemmler, Enterprise Performance Planning Coordinator, SMUD
Karen Schuh, Manager, Enterprise Technology Project Management Office, Avista
Project and portfolio management (PPM) continues to evolve within our organizations. In this moderated session, with ample time set aside for Q & A, hear from two member companies about their experiences with implementing new PPM processes leveraging enterprise level systems. This session will focus on the operational efficiencies gained by eliminating spreadsheets, multiple SharePoint sites, Access databases and chasing down signatures by having a single location for intake, prioritization, project management, automated workflows, dashboards and reports with ServiceNow PPM. Find out how BrightWork, used by Amazon PMs and other organizations, helps manage a large volume of projects and programs.

11:00 AM - 11:30 AM


11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

The New Carbon Paradigm: How Utilities are Adapting with New Initiatives Panel

Bring your lunch to learn how a variety of utilities, both gas and electric, are creating and implementing low to zero carbon initiatives. 

1:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Closing Comments

Meet The Speakers

Chad Leonard


Customer Engagement Account Executive
Learn More

Chad Leonard is a Global Account Director with SAP and has spent nearly 20 years working with North American utilities who are undergoing technology transformations of various types. His areas of focus include Customer Information Systems, Marketing, Commerce and Customer Self Service. His is currently responsible for SAP’s Strategic Customer Program where he leads Solutions, Services and Support to create long term and value driven relationships for utilities. He is based in Phoenix, AZ.

LaBaron Hartfield

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Manager of IT Project Integration and Strategy
Learn More

LaBaron Hartfield is an experienced thought-leader with over 24 years of proven results in managing, developing, and delivering enterprise-level business solutions that achieve operational and financial efficiencies, drive strategic initiatives, and promote business and technical innovation. Currently SMUD’s Manager of IT Project Integration and Strategy, he is committed to provide opportunities that create or expose possibilities that may have not been present before to support SMUD’s ambitious 2030 Zero Carbon Plan. Balancing technical design with business strategy he collaborates with C-Suite executives, Senior Leadership, and Technical and Business stakeholders to align on shared goals. He is able to enroll the Organization to take actions that are consistent with achieving those goals driven by:
– innovating/working with new technologies.
– evangelizing/promoting/sharing innovation knowledge that provides value for others.
– building/architecting solutions on a solid foundation of technical, financial, and business sense.
– partnering/contributing with others to achieve the possibilities.
Mr. Hartfield received his Master in Business Administration from Purdue University and Bachelor of Arts from Occidental College.

Trevor Lamb

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Business Tech Program Manager

Diane Perry

Puget Sound Energy

Senior Manager Operations Systems

Phillip Virnoche

Avista Corp.

Karen Schuh

Avista Corp.

Manager, Enterprise Technology Project Management Office

Christina Kemmler

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Enterprise Performance Planning Coordinator

Blain Nicholls

NorthWestern Energy

Director, Project Management

Kip Jackson

NV Energy

Director, Engineering & Project Management

Jacob Reidt

Avista Corp.

Sr Manager Generation Project Delivery

Jon Malmberg

Bonneville Power Administration

PE, Construction Manager

Rosie Sordo

Puget Sound Energy

IT Business Analyst

Janette Cruz

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Sr. Enterprise Performance Planning Coordinator

Clay Gilge