Utility Pole + Overhead Systems (Sep 11-12)

This biennial program pairs informative educational sessions presented by industry experts with a trade show. More than 14 sessions are offered over two days to highlight new technologies, best practices and address challenges found with utility pole structures and related overhead systems. Engineers, operations and purchasing personnel from utilities and service companies from throughout Western North America have the opportunity to network at the interactive trade show open throughout the conference. The trade show features more than 40 vendors offering hands-on demonstrations of the latest pole products and innovations in the industry. Vendors encouraged to display.

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Doug Thomas, Engineer, Cowlitz PUD

    • Program Location
    • Embassy Suites Hotel Portland-Airport
    • 7900 Northeast 82nd Avenue
      Portland, OR 97220
    • Who Should Attend
      • Engineering professionals
      • Operations managers
      • Purchasing professionals
      • Materials managers
      • Environmental professionals
      • Utility pole program and project managers
      • Service companies providing pole and overhead structure materials, treatments, or related products.
  • Registration Options
  • Conference Registration: $449 USD

    Registration prices increase $100 after August 20, 2019. Registration includes meeting materials, breakfasts, lunches, and networking reception.

    For vendor registration options, please see the Vendor Displays tab.

  • 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 11, 2019

7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Registration and Breakfast

8:00 AM - 8:15 AM

Welcome and Conference Overview
Speaker(s): Doug Thomas, Senior Engineer, Cowlitz County PUD

8:15 AM - 9:00 AM

Speaker(s): Lisa Fix, Director of Customer Service, Clark Public Utilities

9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

Poles Structures Part I - Wood, Steel, Fiberglass
Speaker(s): Butch Bernhardt, Sr. Program Manager, Western Wood Preservers Institute, Jesse Saunders, Director of Operations, FRP Transmission Innovations, William Reisdorff Jr., Vice President of Engineering - Global Utility, Valmont Utility

Utility pole specialists will explain the advantages of each pole material as we explore the differences between the materials and discuss when to use each to its best advantage.

9:45 AM - 10:15 AM

Break with Vendor Displays

In the Exhibit Hall in the Pines & Spruce room.

10:15 AM - 11:15 AM

Poles Structures Part II - Ductile Iron, Concrete, Q&A
Speaker(s): Warren Stewart, Managing Director, McWane Poles, Ron Barnett, Director of Concrete, Valmont Utility, Aaron Loosli, Western Regional Sales Manager, McWane Poles

Utility pole specialists will explain the advantages of each pole material as we explore the differences between the materials and discuss when to use each to its best advantage.

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM

Managing Vast Overhead Asset Data for Decision Making
Speaker(s): Dan Nunez, Civil Engineer, Bonneville Power Administration, Erin Kees, Program Manager, Xcel Energy Inc.

Many utilities are gathering vast amounts of asset data, but how do they use that data to make decisions about their system? Collecting the data necessary to maintain a condition-based, predictive maintenance program which maximizes the life of wood pole assets is challenging over time, and more so with each additional variable, such as multiple decay zones and contractors. Xcel Energy will present their experience with developing key requirements for well-defined inspection data specifications with systems designed to provide consistency and accuracy of data. Bonneville Power Administration will present their experience with the development of Criticality, Health and Risk scores and their application to prioritizing work on the transmission system.

12:15 PM - 1:30 PM

Lunch with Vendor Displays

1:30 PM - 2:15 PM

Pole Replacement Panel: Asset Management Approaches West of the Cascades
Speaker(s): Jerry Donovan, Senior Project Manager, Portland General Electric, Kevin Gowan, T&D Asset Management Supervisor, Puget Sound Energy

This session will consist of a panel of Asset Management specialists from several utilities West of the Cascades. Each utility will present on their Asset Management strategies with respect to pole replacements followed by a Q&A. Attend this session to learn about different techniques used for life extension of existing assets, the development of effective asset management practices, and other maintenance strategies to reduce life-cycle cost while maintaining transmission system performance.

2:15 PM - 3:00 PM

Steel Structure Corrosion Program Development – Designing Against Corrosion
Speaker(s): Kevin Niles, Product Manager, Corrosion Engineer, Osmose Utilities Services, Inc.

This presentation will cover corrosion basics, mitigation options, restoration techniques and other key points of corrosion control programs. During the course of their service-life steel structures are subjected to significant environmental exposure. This exposure can have a detrimental impact on the service life of steel structure foundations. Foundations are critical components of all steel structure support systems and are therefore crucial to the national power grid as a whole. Advances in assessment methods and technologies can provide accurate assessment of the current condition of in-service foundations without the need for extensive excavation. Deterioration found on these structures can be categorized to allow utilities to better manage their response through a varied regimen of mitigation and restoration options. The development and management of systematic corrosion control programs can both conserve current costs and help avoid future costs.

3:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Break with Vendor Displays

3:15 PM - 4:00 PM

Pole Replacement Panel: Asset Management Approaches East of the Cascades
Speaker(s): Mark Gabert, Wood Pole Management Program Manager, Avista Utilities, Steve Hess, Operations Manager, Midstate Electric Cooperative

This session will consist of a panel of Asset Management specialists from several utilities East of the Cascades. Each utility will present on their Asset Management strategies with respect to pole replacements followed by a Q&A. Attend this session to learn about different techniques used for life extension of existing assets, the development of effective asset management practices, and other maintenance strategies to reduce life-cycle cost while maintaining transmission system performance.

4:00 PM - 4:45 PM

Pole Remediation in Dry Climates
Speaker(s): Matt Konkler, Faculty Research Assistant, Oregon State University, Jed Cappellazzi, Faculty Research Assistant, Oregon State University

4:45 PM - 6:45 PM

Reception with Vendor Displays

Thursday, September 12, 2019

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM


8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Small Cell - Working Together to Achieve a Successful Deployment
Speaker(s): Jaime Breckenridge, Utility Joint Use Coordinator, Eugene Water & Electric Board, Scott Ziska, Wireless Project Manager, Portland General Electric

This session will discuss the details of the coordination necessary for utilities and telecom to work together to install, inspect, and maintain joint assets on individual poles. The presentation will be given jointly by the EWEB and PGE joint use coordinators. Topics covered include: EWEB and PGE standards – their similarities and differences, JU application process, make-ready timelines, should you use contractors or line crews to install, what training is needed/provided by utilities, what challenge is coming next, self-service options for carriers, (e.g. access to GIS pole database), pole top vs. comm space mounts candidate selection, and lessons learned to date.

9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

What does the Joint Use Specialist consider that you don't?
Speaker(s): Maureen Nave, Manager Joint Use and Permits, Snohomish County PUD

This session will be an overview to discuss the growing challenges that are associated with multiple companies wanting to attach to utility poles.

9:45 AM - 10:15 AM

Break with Vendor Displays + Hotel Checkout

10:15 AM - 11:00 AM

Above Ground Pole Management
Speaker(s): Jerry Donovan, Senior Project Manager, Portland General Electric, Patrick Simons, Senior Engineer, Idaho Power Company, Jeff Morrell, Director, National Centre for Timber Durability & Design Life, University of the Sunshine Coast

Effective internal and external remedial treatments provide tools for arresting decay at groundline where it is most prevalent. Extending the service life of poles at groundline has resulted in older poles more likely to develop durability issues above the ground, especially near the pole top.   In this session, speakers from Portland General Electric and Idaho Power will discuss how they manage these above ground issues in the wet area West of the Cascades and the drier inland regions.

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Training for the Utility Pole Inspector
Speaker(s): Joel Rowe, Senior Director - Operations Support, Osmose Utilities Services, Inc.

Inspecting the nation’s electrical and telecom infrastructure is challenging work for sure, but the impact on system safety, reliability and resiliency makes it a noble pursuit. Identifying perfectly good or obviously bad poles can be relatively easy, but everything in between requires substantially more technical expertise than most people would assume. In this presentation, Joel will discuss the important ingredients in the selection of a pole inspection candidate and the knowledge that makes them proficient. Whether you need to train one or a dozen pole inspectors, you will benefit from this information.

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Lunch with Vendor Displays

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Upcoming Changes in Fire and Vegetation Management
Speaker(s): Shane Vosberg, Sr. Corporate Safety Trainer, Asplundh Construction, LLC

Asplundh Construction maintains more miles of ROW in the utility industry than any other contractor. Listen to their overview of how vegetation management best practices are changing as North American wildfires occur more frequently and in greater intensity than ever before.

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Case Study in Corrosion - SnoPUD/Exo
Speaker(s): Gordon Hayslip, Manager, Transmission Engineering & Standards, Snohomish County PUD, Grant Leaverton, VP Business Development, Exo Inc.

3:30 PM - 3:45 PM

Closing Comments
Speaker(s): Doug Thomas, Senior Engineer, Cowlitz County PUD

3:45 PM - 4:15 PM

Conference Wrap Up

Those wishing to serve on the next planning committee are welcome to attend

Hotel + Travel

  • Embassy Suites Hotel Portland-Airport
  • 7900 Northeast 82nd Avenue
  • Portland, Oregon 97220
  • Phone: 503-460-3000

  • Click here to make your reservation now.
  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (503) 460-3000 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute and use the group code ‘WEI’ to receive a special rate of $179 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until August 20, 2019 or until the WEI room block is full.

Vendor Displays

Registration Options
Member (WEI or NWPPA) Attendee + Vendor Display Table: $649 USD
Regular Attendee + Vendor Display Table: $1,599 USD

Registration prices increase $100 after August 20, 2019. Registration includes meeting materials, breakfasts, lunches, and networking reception, and a vendor booth in the exhibit hall. If you are a current member of NWPPA but do not see the Member rate, please call 503.231.1994 and we can process your registration over the phone.

Vendor Display Assistant tickets are available for $299 and include exhibit hall, lunches, and networking reception. This ticket does not include meeting materials or session attendance.

Shipping Information
Embassy Suites Portland Airport
Attn: Receiving
7900 Northeast 82nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97220

Packages should arrive no earlier than three days prior to the conference start date. All packages should include: WEI Utility Pole + Overhead Systems Conference, September 11-12, 2019, and the Number of Boxes.

Vendor Display Schedule
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Set Up: 7:00 AM – 9:45 AM
Display Times: 9:45 AM – 6:45 PM

9:45 AM – 10:15 AM – Break with Vendors
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM – Lunch with Vendors
2:45 PM – 3:15 PM – Break With Vendors
4:45 PM – 6:45 PM – Reception with Vendors

Thursday, September 12, 2019
Display Times: 9:45 AM – 1:30 PM
Tear Down: 1:30 PM

9:45 AM – 10:15 AM – Break with Vendors
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM – Lunch with Vendors

Vendor Display Map

Meet The Speakers

Butch Bernhardt

Western Wood Preservers Institute

Sr. Program Manager
Learn More

Butch Bernhardt is the Senior Program Manager for the Western Wood Preservers Institute. His responsibilities include product education, technical publications, standards, distance learning and digital design tools for preserved wood products.

Bernhardt has extensive experience in wood promotion, providing product support, user education and international market development for nearly three decades in positions with Western Wood Products Association, Softwood Export Council and Western Red Cedar Lumber Association.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University and is the third generation in his family to work in the wood products industry.

Western Wood Preservers Institute, headquartered in Vancouver, Wash., represents preservative treated wood product producers, chemical manufacturers and others serving the industry throughout western North America. For more than 60 years, WWPI has provided regulatory and market outreach services aimed at sustaining a viable western North America preserved wood industry.

Jesse Saunders

FRP Transmission Innovations

Director of Operations
Learn More

Jesse Saunders has been the Director of Operations for FRP Transmission Innovations for the past two years. He has worked within the T&D industry for 18 years both within the Supply Chain and Finance sides of the business mainly for transmission and distribution hardware distributors.

Douglas Thomas

Cowlitz County PUD

Senior Engineer

Kevin Niles

Osmose Utilities Services, Inc.

Product Manager, Corrosion Engineer
Learn More

Kevin Niles is a Corrosion Engineer, NACE Senior Corrosion Technologist and Product Manager with over twenty-five years of electric utility experience with Osmose Utilities Services, Inc.

He is a member of NACE, IEEE and ASTM and currently serves as vice-chair of a NACE group dedicated to developing standards specific to self-weathering (corten) steel.

Joel Rowe

Osmose Utilities Services, Inc.

Senior Director - Operations Support
Learn More

Joel holds a B.S. in Park Administration from Arkansas Tech University and is a Senior Director of Operations Support at Osmose Utilities Services which inspects approximately six million wood and steel structures annually. Joel has served for over 30 years at Osmose and is currently responsible for recruiting, training and development of the Osmose field operations organization. In 2019, Joel’s team will instruct over 700 students in Foreman Training which includes detailed pole inspection techniques and processes. Prior to his current role, he served in numerous operational positions from Foreman to VP-North American Operations. Joel and his wife Becky have four children and live in Newnan, Georgia.

Matt Konkler

Oregon State University

Faculty Research Assistant
Learn More

Matthew Konkler is a Senior Faculty Research Assistant in the Wood Science and Engineering Department at Oregon State University where he co-manages the Utility Pole Research Cooperative and Wood Biodeterioration and Preservation Lab with Mr. Jed Cappellazzi. Matt is originally from Columbus Ohio, holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and a M.S. in Trace Metal Biogeochemistry. For 6-years at OSU, Matt has specialized in Analytical Chemistry and Wood Preservation. Matt enjoys Fishing for fun.

Jed Cappellazzi

Oregon State University

Faculty Research Assistant
Learn More

Jed Cappellazzi is a Senior Faculty Research Assistant in the Wood Science and Engineering Department at Oregon State University, where he co-manages the Utility Pole Research Cooperative and Wood Biodeterioration and Preservation Lab with Mr. Matthew Konkler. Jed is originally from New York, N.Y. and has a B.S. in Forest Biology and a dual major M.S. in Soil Science and Forest Ecosystems. For over 5-years at OSU, Jed has specialized in Wood Preservation, Wood Decay, and Fungal Ecology. Jed enjoys Mushroom Hunting for fun.

Jaime Breckenridge

Eugene Water & Electric Board

Utility Joint Use Coordinator
Learn More

Jaime Breckenridge is the Utility Joint Use Specialist at Eugene Water & Electric Board. From day one, it was clear to her that joint use is more than code; there is a common goal and that is to provide a service to [the same] people. She makes it a top priority to build relationships with each agency she works with, including local governments, telephone, cable, fiber and more recently wireless companies. Jaime approaches her cross-functional work with collaboration and understanding, which enables utilities across all disciplines to build safe and reliable systems and achieve the shared goal of providing quality service to everyone.

Chris Evans

Valmont Utility

Marketing Services

Dan Nunez

Bonneville Power Administration

Civil Engineer
Learn More

Dan Nunez graduated from Cal Poly in 2010 with a degree in Civil Engineering. Dan transitioned into Transmission Line Design & Project Management at Bonneville Power Administration which lead to standing up a Federal Internal Controls program for Reliability Standards. Moving from asset delivery Dan transitioned to Asset Management Strategy & Risk Management standing up enterprise and business line asset risk and health capabilities to make decisions on the investments that are leveraging Institute of Asset Management (IAM) frameworks. Dan joined Portland General Electric in 2021 after previously standing up a Wildfire Mitigation Program to lead the PGE wildfire planning & strategy organization. This Includes developing Capital/Maintenance plans as well as managing PGE’s wildfire risk mitigation strategy and targets.

Mark Gabert

Avista Utilities

Wood Pole Management Program Manager
Learn More

Mark Gabert is the Wood Pole Management Program Manager at Avista Utilities, an Eastern Washington IOU. Mark’s experience includes pole inspection Foreman, Utility Vegetation Management, Wood Pole Management, and currently expediting a Steel Pole Management plan. Avista has approximately 240,000 distribution poles and 36,000 transmission poles in its system.

Jerry Donovan

Portland General Electric

Senior Project Manager
Learn More

Jerry Donovan is Senior Project Manager – Utility Asset Management at Portland General Electric. Prior to his current role he was the Program Manager for PGE’s Overhead and Underground Inspection/Correction Programs. Jerry joined PGE in 1978 and serves as PGE’s representative on the OSU Utility Pole Research Cooperative Advisory Committee. Jerry is an avid outdoorsman and has served his community many years as a youth sports coach. He makes his home in Columbia City, Oregon where he and his wife Susan raised their four children.

Patrick Simons

Idaho Power Company

Senior Engineer
Learn More

Pat Simons has been with Idaho Power for 20 years. During that time has has worked as a Transmission Design Engineer, a Substations Design Engineer, a Substations Design Leader, and since 2009 a Transmission Maintenance Engineer. Prior to Idaho Power, Pat worked as an ironworker for 20 plus years, receiving his engineering degree from the University of Kansas late in life (at 40 years old), and worked as a project manager on construction projects for 3 years.

Shane Vosberg

Asplundh Construction, LLC

Sr. Corporate Safety Trainer
Learn More

Shane Vosberg has been with Asplundh Tree Expert Co. for nine years and with their Corporate Safety Department for six years where he serves as the Corporate Safety Consultant and EHS Specialist for a number of regions in the Western US. Prior to joining Asplundh, he spent 11 years working as a Certified Arborist on the residential side in South Dakota and Colorado, and was also involved in supervisory and safety management roles. Shane has a Bachelor’s Degree in Park Management and a Master’s Degree in Industrial Management with an emphasis in Arboricultural Safety from South Dakota State University. Shane is a Certified Arborist and a Certified Treecare Safety Professional.

Kevin Gowan

Puget Sound Energy

T&D Asset Management Supervisor
Learn More

Kevin Gowan is the supervisor of electric system asset management for Puget Sound Energy located in the Washington State. He has enjoyed the past 8 years at PSE. He has received his PE in Electrical Engineering. In addition to his present role, Kevin has also worked as a substation field engineer, electric distribution system planning engineer, been majorly involved with storm restoration, managed special projects, implemented a custom Storm Damage Assessment App and interned at a wind energy facility. Kevin has a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Washington State University, has received certifications in Electrical Engineering and is in process of getting his masters in Engineering Management. In addition to his enthusiasm for the electric system, Kevin enjoys spending time in the mountains, climbing to the top of things, traveling to other countries (especially those in South America), and a good cup of coffee.

Steve Hess

Midstate Electric Cooperative

Operations Manager
Learn More

Steve Hess is the Operations/Engineering Manager at Midstate Electric Cooperative (MEC), a Central Oregon electric co-op that serves 19,500 meters and expands into four counties covering 5,600 square miles. Steve manages and oversees the co-op’s electrical system maintenance and operations and is responsible for oversight of power restoration as well as fleet maintenance for all MEC service vehicles. Steve’s career with MEC began in 1979 when he was hired as a Groundman. He advanced through the ranks from Apprentice Lineman, Journeyman Lineman, Foreman and Superintendent to his current position which he has held since 2015. Community activities include Supervisory Committee member of Mid-Oregon Credit Union and making sure equipment and manpower are available for local community festivities including parades, fairs, career days and high voltage electric trailer safety demonstrations. Steve and his wife Tami live in La Pine and have two daughters.

Scott Ziska

Portland General Electric

Wireless Project Manager
Learn More

Scott Ziska is a Wireless Program Manager with Portland General Electric. His primary focus is facilitating Small Cell installations, helping establish Small Cell construction standards, and staying abreast of best known industry practices.

Maureen Nave

Snohomish County PUD

Manager Joint Use and Permits
Learn More

Maureen “Moe” Nave has been with Snohomish County Public Utility District for 28 years. She joined as a flagger and worked several positions before joining the Joint Use department in 2004 as a Joint Use Coordinator. She is now the Manager, Joint Use and Permits. She and her team manage all third-party attachments including wireless antennas, which includes over 50 separate Pole Attachment and Master License agreements. In addition, they handle all billings and correspondence associated with pole attachment/wireless applications and approvals, ROW permits and Joint Pole Notifications and are responsible for posting all attachments in GIS. She loves spending time with friends and family, which includes her 4 grandchildren and has been quilting for over 30 years.

Warren Stewart

McWane Poles

Managing Director

Erin Kees

Xcel Energy Inc.

Program Manager
Learn More

Erin Kees joined Xcel Energy in 2012 as Program Manager for the Pole Integrity group, which manages Xcel’s wood pole assess & treat program. Prior to Xcel Energy, Erin worked as a senior field team lead collecting & processing lidar and digital image data. Erin has a master’s degree in GIS and is a certified Project Management Professional.

Jeffrey Morrell

University of the Sunshine Coast

Director, National Centre for Timber Durability & Design Life
Learn More

Jeff Morrell is a Professor Emeritus at Oregon State University where he had worked since 1983.Taking a hint from his former Department Head, he retired from OSU and moved to become Director of the National Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life in Brisbane Australia. He works on issues related to wood deterioration and its prevention. When he is not working on Labor Day, he enjoys running and other outdoor activities.

Gordon Hayslip

Snohomish County PUD

Manager, Transmission Engineering & Standards

Grant Leaverton

Exo Inc.

VP Business Development
Learn More

Grant Leaverton is a senior Manager for Exo. He has worked in the Utility and Energy Infrastructure space for 10 years. His focus has been on the design, fabrication, inspection and remediation of tubular steel towers with T&D and substation applications. Grant also leads the UAV inspection services initiative for Exo. We are excited to hear Grant’s perspective on life extension solutions for transmission assets and how they were applied to SNOPUD’s project.

Lisa Fix

Clark Public Utilities

Director of Customer Service
Learn More

For more than five years, Lisa has served as the Director of Customer Service for Clark Public Utilities. In her role she nurtures an award-winning, customer-centric culture and leads two contact centers to meet the needs of 194,000 electric and 34,000 water utility customers. Prior to her work with Clark Public Utilities, Lisa spent 25 years with Marriott Hotels, serving in roles related to finance, customer services and executive leadership. Lisa holds an MBA from Washington State University-Vancouver, and a degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Wisconsin – Stout. Outside of work, she tends to a small ranch in the north part of Clark County where she rides her horses and enjoys the country lifestyle.

Bill Reisdorff

Valmont Utility

Vice President of Engineering - Global Utility
Learn More

William Reisdorff, Jr. is the Vice President of Engineering for Valmont Industries Utility division. He has 33 years of experience in the utility industry, all with Valmont, and has worked with many utilities and on many interesting structures over those years. Bill is a graduate of the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. In addition, he is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Nebraska. Also, Bill is a member of the ASCE 48 committee and the NESC sub-committee 5.

Ron Barnett

Valmont Utility

Director of Concrete