Secondary Network – Virtual (Sep 23-24)

Secondary networks are vital to systems that support power needs in urban areas. These interconnected pathways improve reliability, but are also complex to inspect and maintain. This annual forum addresses the reliability, safety and protection challenges of spot networks and grid systems that comprise the secondary network. Designed as an open forum, attendees are encouraged to bring their challenges and opportunities for discussion and to share best practices. Attendees also get the chance to tour the local vaults of the host organization.

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General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Ryan Bradeen, Avista

    • 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
    • Utility professionals involved with power distribution reliability planning, engineering, operation, standardization, protection & control, and power quality analysis of secondary spot network and grid systems will gain valuable insights and networking from attending this annual program. In addition, service company professionals who offer support to any aspect of the secondary network system are welcome to attend. 

  • Registration Options
  • Member: $199 USD
    Regular: $299 USD

    Registration provides access to all Virtual Secondary Network agenda sessions.

  • 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 2020. 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.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Welcome and Introductions

Join us as Heather Rosentrater opens the 2020 Virtual Secondary Network Conference.

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Confined Space and Vault Rescue
Speaker(s): Clinton Sharp, Sr. Safety Specialist, Avista Corp.

Confined space fundamentals with a focus on vault entry procedures, rescue requirements, and a key element often missed in the process…Emergency Response and their role in rescue.

9:30 AM - 9:40 AM

Stretch Break

9:40 AM - 10:40 AM

Infrastructure failures and warning signs
Facilitator(s): Jessie Paul, Customer Project Coordinator, Avista Utilities
Speaker(s): Landen Grant, Project Manager, Avista Corp., Shane Powell, Disribution Support Manager - Network, Alabama Power Company, Brian Read, Line Crew Leader ll, Eugene Water & Electric Board

Many network systems date back 130 years and they were built with brick and mortar. Some network systems are taking an aggressive approach to proactive replacements of manholes, vaults, and duct banks. In network systems, it can be difficult at best to build new or rebuild in place. This has not stopped some utilities in the downtown cores. Civil engineers like Landen Grant from Avista, or utilities like Eugene Water and Electric and Alabama Power are taking action. Their enthusiasm and ability to think outside the box is invigorating while replacing the tired old infrastructure. These perspectives are some of the best in regard to network systems and how to build infrastructure while keeping the lights on in the city. Join us and see in this unique and informative three-way presentation.

10:40 AM - 11:40 AM

Helicopters to the rescue
Facilitator(s): Chris Steusloff, Cable /Supervisor, Xcel Energy Inc.
Speaker(s): Richard Kernan, Foreman, Denver Underground, Xcel Energy Inc.

Join Rick Kernan, a Network specialist with Xcel Energy, as he reviews how Colorado was able to be strategic and think outside the box for solutions during a recent network protector replacement project. Xcel has taken a stance against safety and is on a path of destruction to replace all live front breakers with dead front designs. This is a heavy task given that much of the network system is built into the design of the downtown Denver high rises and are many stories off the ground. Learn how network crews recently replaced several network protectors with the help of helicopters and their ingenuity. The project was a perfect safety success and set a high standard for coordination and replacements in the future.

11:40 AM - 11:50 AM

Stretch Break

11:50 AM - 12:00 PM

Vendor’s Platform

Each vendor will have 2-3 minutes to introduce their company and share any new products or services they would like to highlight.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Roundtable: Impacts of COVID-19 Outbreak on the Electric Utility System
Panelist(s): Chris Steusloff, Cable /Supervisor, Xcel Energy Inc., Ryan Bradeen, Manager Electric OPS - Downtown Network, Avista Utilities, Daniel Honeyfield, Manager, T&D Maintenance Planning, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Clement Ting, Engineer, Network, EPCOR Distribution and Transmission Inc.
Speaker(s): Shane Powell, Disribution Support Manager - Network, Alabama Power Company

We will be discussing how the COVID-19 Corona Virus outbreak affected the Electric Utility System and our employees.  The group will discuss varies issues around preparedness, how it affected emergency response, how work was staged or put off, how it affected employees, meeting locations, and even budgets.  The panel will consist of leaders from across the United States in various regions to see how similarly and how differently we dealt with the same pandemic response.
Sponsored by Hitachi ABB Power Grids and Richards Manufacturing.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Network Protector Communications Integrations
Speaker(s): Brian Chain, SR Network Engineer, Avista Utilities

This presentation will walk you through the building of a two-decade long project. Downtown Network vaults pose several unique safety challenges to Avista’s downtown operations. Crew members entering these confined spaces are exposed to fault duties in excess of that which can be protected by typical FR-rated clothing. Extracting injured crewmen from vaults is difficult at best and impossible at worst, after catastrophic equipment failures. Vault entries by our crews will be reduced after the implementation of this project, due to the ability to monitor network protector relays remotely. Advances in network protector relaying over the last two decades have added protective features which help to limit incident energy available during a fault, which is the primary danger to our crewmen inside a vault. Brian Chain, the Avista downtown Network engineer will provide the journey of implementing vault integration into the heart of downtown Spokane and Avista’s most high-profile service territory.

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Outage restoration for network system
Facilitator(s): Shane Powell, Disribution Support Manager - Network, Alabama Power Company
Speaker(s): Lucas Coffey, Engineer, Alabama Power Company

What happens when you have a vault fire on a secondary network grid?
In 2018, Alabama Power experience a secondary grid fire at multiple locations. We will walk you through the response, who all was affected, how customers and media responded, and how repairs were made. We will dive into root cause analysis, key take away, and how we plan to be more prepared for such an event in the future.

10:00 AM - 10:20 AM

Stretch Break

10:20 AM - 11:30 AM

COVID-19 Roundtable discussion/ Open roundtable

Sponsored by Hitachi ABB Power Grids and Richards Manufacturing.

11:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Wrap Up

Discussion on future agenda, topics, and locations.


Thank you to our session sponsors!

Meet The Speakers

Heather Rosentrater

Avista Utilities

Senior Vice President, Energy Delivery and Shared Services

Landen Grant

Avista Corp.

Project Manager

Richard Kernan

Xcel Energy Inc.

Foreman, Denver Underground

Jessie Paul

Avista Utilities

Customer Project Coordinator

Shane Powell

Alabama Power Company

Disribution Support Manager - Network

Christopher Steusloff

Xcel Energy Inc.

Cable /Supervisor
Learn More

Denver Electric Underground Network Group

Ryan Bradeen

Avista Utilities

Manager Electric OPS - Downtown Network

Daniel Honeyfield

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Manager, T&D Maintenance Planning

Lucas Coffey

Alabama Power Company


Brian Chain

Avista Utilities

SR Network Engineer
Learn More

Brian is presently serving as Avista’s Downtown Network Area Engineer in Spokane, Washington. Brian’s first day as a design engineer started with a crew that had already been on-site for three months and still didn’t have any drawings. Fifteen years later, Brian has personally led nearly $90M in substation and distribution capital projects, often while also performing as the primary design resource. Brian has developed a focus on bringing varied stakeholders together to create common understanding about standards, processes, and goals.

Brian Read

Eugene Water & Electric Board

Line Crew Leader ll

Clinton Sharp

Avista Corp.

Sr. Safety Specialist