Project Management (Sep 25-27)

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.

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Mikel Milton, IT Delivery Services Manager, Puget Sound Energy

    • Program Location
    • Hyatt Regency Bellevue
    • 900 Bellevue Way NE
      Bellevue, WA 98004
    • 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: $499 USD
    Regular: $799 USD

    Registration prices increase $100 after September 4, 2019. Registration includes full conference access and materials. Guest tickets are available for $100 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. Guest registration includes all meals and receptions, and all program materials.

  • 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 Kris Taylor, Program Manager at (971) 255-4969.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

12:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Tour of Puget Sound Energy's Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Project

Arrive early to join us for a tour of Puget Sound Energy's Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Project. Built in the late 1890s east of Seattle, this one of the Pacific Northwest's oldest hydropower facilities, home to the world's first hydroelectric plant built completely underground, and one of the most picturesque locations in the Pacific Northwest. Transportation will be provided, departing from the hotel. After registering for the Forum please email to claim your seat, as space is limited.

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Welcome Reception (Hosted offsite)

Join us in downtown Bellevue to catch-up with colleagues from across the West and meet fellow Forum attendees. Sponsored by Burns & McDonnell.

Taven Hall
505 Bellevue Square
Bellevue, Washington 98004

Thursday, September 26, 2019

7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Registration and Breakfast

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Conference Welcome
Speaker(s): Margaret Hopkins, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Puget Sound Energy, Mikel Milton, IT Delivery Manager, Puget Sound Energy

Puget Sound Energy welcomes the group to Bellevue and the 2019 Project Management Forum.

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Amazon's Approach to Project Management
Speaker(s): David Berrier, Senior Program Manager, Amazon Projects PMO, Amazon

David Berrier, a leader in Amazon Projects PMO, will share with us an outside perspective of how their company and subsidiaries have approached setting up and running over 800 PMOs around the world that have over 24,000 employees.

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM


9:45 AM - 10:45 AM

Breakout Sessions #1

PMO Leadership Track:

Building an Enterprise Project Management Organization Roundtable
Facilitator(s): Janette Cruz, Sr. Enterprise Performance Planning Coordinator, Sacramento Municipal Utility District
What does an effective enterprise project management organization look like? Benefit from the wealth of knowledge and experience in the room as we explore topics including staffing roles, PMO maturity models, and centralized vs. departmental organization. 

Practitioners – Construction Focus Track:

Project Controls & Change Management
Speaker(s): Krag Filius, Project Manager, NorthWestern Energy; Alan McBroom, Senior Project Controls Specialist, Burns & McDonnell    

How is change management represented in project controls and what are the tools that companies use? Get the answers to these questions and more. 

Practitioners – IT Focus Track:

A Practical Guide to Creating a Robust Business Case for Digital Transformation

Speaker(s): Ross Smith, Partner, PA Consulting 
As Utilities transform into more data-centric, technology-enabled and customer-focused organizations, they are taking on a significant number of IT-enabled business transformation projects. These projects require solid planning, execution and a relentless focus on benefits realization – and the first step is the development of a robust and realistic business case. This session will focus on process, tools and insights required to create compelling business cases – specifically covering strategic planning, capex/opex budgeting, practical tools for benefits modeling, project delivery models, benefits delivery roadmaps and benefits realization models.

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM


11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Breakout Sessions #2

PMO Leadership Track
Attend Construction or IT Focus Track

Practitioners – Construction Focus Track:
Managing Infrastructure Projects in the Age of Social Media Fabrication & Media Sensationalism
Speaker(s):  Daniel McArdle-Jaimes, Senior Communications Consultant, Portland General Electric
With disasters occurring more frequently than ever before—including hotter summers to multi-day blizzards, from hurricanes to fires—our ability to maintain the grid is more challenging than ever before. 
However, even our well-intentioned efforts spark negative online and in-person reactions ranging from one’s dissatisfaction of a road closures to a temporary, planned outage that result in a phone call to a reporter or elected official.  Given all of these external challenges, how can energy companies proactively prepare staff, communities and customers for construction and understand that these one-time construction inconveniences result in a lifetime of benefits?

Practitioners – IT Focus Track:
Lessons Learned from Implementing Large Scale Agile at PSE IT
Speaker(s): Gerritt Rosa, Manager IT Business Analysis, Puget Sound Energy
Hear about Puget Sound Energy’s Agile Center of Excellence including benefits and lessons learned from implementing agile methodology for IT. 

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Networking Lunch


1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Breakout Sessions #3

PMO Leadership Track:
Developing a Value & Prioritization Framework
Speaker(s): Yusup Hojanepesov, Manager, PMO, EPCOR Distribution and Transmission Inc., Peter Nearing, Consultant, METSCO
Owners of distribution, transmission and generation systems must balance a number of competing factors under intense regulatory scrutiny: some of the major considerations include rate impacts, reliability impacts, capacity to connect new load and generation, environmental impacts, and public and employee safety risks. Introducing a value framework allows utilities to balance these factors through the prioritization of critical investments within the distribution system. This presentation highlights PMO’s recent journey in developing a value and prioritization framework, including benchmarking with best industry practices and leveraging complex numerical algorithms in order to ensure that benefits and costs are balanced appropriately and that the most prudent and justifiable investments can be prioritized accordingly.

Practitioners – Construction Focus Track:
AACE: What is it and how can Project Managers utilize it in their practice?
Speaker(s): Phil Larson, Program Manager, Seattle Sound Transit
Guest speaker Phil Larson, past President of AACEi, will provide an overview of the organization and their guiding principles.  He will answer your “What is it?”, “What started it?”,  “How does it apply to Project Managers?”, and “How can I utilize in my business?”.   

Practitioners – IT Focus Track:
The Psychology of DevOps
Speaker(s): Ryan Whitman-Morales, Consultant, North Highland, and Fady El-Rukby, Director, North Highland
Why it works, why it doesn't, and how it will change your entire organization.

2:30 PM - 2:45 PM


2:45 PM - 3:45 PM

Breakout Sessions #4

PMO Leadership Track:
Prudent Investment and How the PMO can Show Value
Facilitator(s): Niecie Weatherby, Manager, Project Management, Puget Sound Energy
What data are you using to show the value your PMO is bringing to the organization?  How are you showing the structure and oversight is helping?  How are you driving effectiveness, efficiency, and consistency via your PMO? Bring your own questions and lessons learned to share with your peers. 

Practitioners – Construction Focus Track:
Are your Contractors on the same page as you? They should be.
Speaker(s): Anne Langmaid, Project Portfolio Manager, Transmission & Distribution, Wood Canada Limited, Thomas Hanson, Sr. Construction Manager, BC Hydro
Thomas Hanson will share BC Hydro's perspective on their journey in Onboarding Contractors, managing Contracts and Negotiations and their road ahead. Anne Langmaid will share Wood's experience as BC Hydro's partner and Contractor. Join them for this interactive session where we discuss how you can maximize the benefits of your Contractor relationships.


3:45 PM - 4:00 PM


4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Seattle City Light's Denny Substation Program
Speaker(s): Phil Ambrose, Program Manager, Denny Substation Program, Seattle City Light

As Seattle became of the fastest growing cities in North America over the past decade, the neighborhoods of South Lake Union and Denny Triangle grew particularly fast. To meet the accelerating power needs of current and anticipated consumers in the area, Seattle City Light decided to construct a new electrical substation. The substation, the first and largest of its kind in 30 years, included an underground distribution network and transmission line. Prior to construction, the utility conducted a two-year design process that included numerous public meetings, close engagement with stakeholders, and dozens of briefings to neighborhood groups and organizations. This session will explore how the utility successfully carried out this project, including discussing how they utility designed and carried out the stakeholder engagement process before and during construction and how the project management team assembled and managed the groups working on the multi-year program.

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Hosted Networking Reception

Dinner on your own.

Friday, September 27, 2019

7:00 AM - 8:00 AM


8:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Breakout Sessions #5

PMO Leadership Track:
Change Management 
Speaker(s): Kirsten Glesne, Senior EPC Project Manager, Burns & McDonnell
Change is almost inevitable in the life cycle of a project. How you manage the change can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful project.  This session will explore all facets of project change and change management including types of changes, change management processes and systems, pricing change, impacts of change on productivity, cost and schedule and how to avoid change.  Change management will be reviewed at all FEP stages of a project and from both the owner and contractors side to give them full picture of project change management.

Practitioners – Construction Focus Track:
Risk Management: How it enables successful Project and Portfolio Delivery
Speaker(s): Yi Bao, Projects Risk Specialist, BC Hydro
Robust Risk Management is critical to achieving utilities’ capital project delivery objectives. It adds value to both project and portfolio management by better communicating, forecasting and managing uncertainties. BC Hydro has successfully leveraged risk management as part of its PPM (Project and Portfolio Management) practice to enable on-time, on-budget delivery of capital projects. This session will explore the utility’s holistic approach in below areas: 

  • Project risk management processes and artifacts including structured risk register, Bow Tie analysis, and standard Risk Workshop guideline
  • Portfolio risk adjustment (for capital expenditure forecasts) determined via Monte Carlo simulation to reflect schedule and cost uncertainties at a portfolio level
  • Risk and project performance dashboard using advanced visualization tools

9:15 AM - 9:45 AM

Break + Hotel Checkout

9:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Breakout Sessions #6

PMO Leadership Track:
Developing Soft Skills for PMO Roles
Facilitator(s): Jacob Reidt, Sr Manager Project Delivery, Avista Corp
What soft skills are needed to support the future needs of PMOs? How are we building these or hiring for these? 

Practitioners – Construction Focus Track:
Case Study: Edmonton’s Riverview Feeders Project
Speaker(s): Merdan Hojanepesov, Manager, Distribution Projects & Contracts, EPCOR Distribution and Transmission Inc. Many organizations facing natural barriers or obstacles in their mission to deliver the power to end customers. These obstacles range from natural areas, ravines, and rivers to name a few. One of the projects within EPCOR Distribution, tasked to deliver power from new substation to end customers, faced a natural barrier – North Saskatchewan River. The project team was challenged to design an optimum solution to cross the North Saskatchewan River by horizontal directional drilling under the river. EPCOR will share experience and lessons learned on this Riverview feeders project: feasibility study, engineering design, approval and permit considerations from various government levels.

11:00 AM - 11:15 AM


11:15 AM - 12:15 PM

Justification of Costs
Moderator(s): Karen Schuh, Manager of Regulatory Afffairs, Avista Corp.
Panelist(s): Ed Croft, IT Program Manager, Puget Sound Energy, Tony Pagano, Supervisor, Infrastructure Project Management, Puget Sound Energy

Whether you work for an investor-owned utility or a publicly-owned utility, project teams must ensure that they are able to provide documentation and answers to questions and request from state commissions, boards, interveners, and other groups. The amount of project documentation needed is increasing in most jurisdictions, as is the overhead. In this session, our panel will discuss why regulators are making these requests and what utilities can do get their projects rate case ready, better anticipate new questions and requests, and build an even body of evidence across their organization.

12:15 PM - 1:00 PM

Wrap Up Meeting and Planning for Next Year

Open to all attendees, especially those interested in helping to plan next year's Forum.

Hotel + Travel

  • Hyatt Regency Bellevue
  • 900 Bellevue Way NE
  • Bellevue, Washington 98004
  • Phone: 425-462-1234

  • Click here to make your reservation now.
  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (800) 233-1234 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute to receive a special rate of $225 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until September 4, 2019 or until the WEI room block is full.

Meet The Speakers

Phil Ambrose

Seattle City Light

Program Manager, Denny Substation Program

Margaret Hopkins

Puget Sound Energy

Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Mikel Milton

Puget Sound Energy

IT Delivery Manager
Learn More

Mikel Milton is the IT Delivery Manager for Puget Sound Energy (PSE) where she oversees the program management, project management, business analysis, quality assurance test engineers and the IT capital portfolio. With 20 years in IT, Mikel’s experience combines a background of utility, high tech, call center and channel reseller organizations. Prior to PSE Mikel ran the PMO at a local security company and the call center operations team at an international computer reseller. Mikel holds a BA from the University of Washington. She is married and owns an adorable corgi named Leeloo.

David Berrier


Senior Program Manager, Amazon Projects PMO

Daniel McArdle-Jaimes

Portland General Electric

Senior Communications Consultant

Phil Larson

Seattle Sound Transit

Program Manager

Kirsten Glesne

Burns & McDonnell

Senior EPC Project Manager

Merdan Hojanepesov

EPCOR Distribution and Transmission Inc.

Manager, Distribution Projects

Krag Filius

NorthWestern Energy

Project Manager

Alan McBroom

Burns & McDonnell

Senior Project Controls Specialist

Yi Bao

BC Hydro

Projects Risk Specialist

Ed Croft

Puget Sound Energy

IT Program Manager
Learn More

Ed has worked at PSE for almost 20 years, holding various roles in IT, Legal, and Finance. During this time, he’s built and supported IT systems, managed IT projects, helped build out the initial IT Security practice, implemented PSE’s NERC CIP compliance program, led NERC audits, and helped build out the Enterprise Project Performance group. Ed currently works on the Get To Zero program, a multi-year effort to transform how PSE interacts with its customers through the implementation of new technology.

Tony Pagano

Puget Sound Energy

Supervisor, Infrastructure Project Management
Learn More

Tony spent 8 years in the commercial construction industry before starting with PSE in 2009. During his time at PSE, he has worked in Substation Operations and now is part of the Infrastructure PMO, also known as Major Projects. He oversees Project Managers and Construction Managers of electric infrastructure projects which primarily consist of transmission line and substation related projects. He currently is the Operations testimony coordinator for PSE’s 2019 General Rate Case.

Karen Schuh

Avista Corp.

Manager of Regulatory Afffairs
Learn More

Karen has worked for Avista for 13 years, 10 of which have been in the regulatory affairs department. During her time in regulatory affairs she has been responsible for capital recovery in Washington, Idaho and Oregon and worked with all areas of Avista to gather documentation and support for capital projects submitted in a general rate case.

Craig Rintoul

PA Consulting

Director of Customer Experience

Gerritt Rosa

Puget Sound Energy

Manager IT Business Analysis

Yusup Hojanepesov

EPCOR Distribution and Transmission Inc.

Manager, PMO

Peter Nearing

METSCO Energy Solutions Inc.


Alex Bakulev

METSCO Energy Solutions Inc.

Chief Executive Officer