Western Region Mutual Assistance Agreement (WRMAA) Annual Meeting (Nov 01-03)

Nearly 15 years ago the Western Region Mutual Assistance Agreement was adopted by many gas and electric utilities throughout Western North America to support one another in the event of emergencies affecting generation, transmission, distribution, or other business operations. Parties involved in the WRMAA twice annually to share best practices, discuss key emergency response issues, and in the fall, review the agreement itself and name the annual custodian.

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Nancy Sacré, Emergency Management Program Manager, Southern California Edison

    • Program Location
    • The Westin San Diego
    • 400 West Broadway
      San Diego, California 92101
    • Who Should Attend
      • Parties to the Western Region Mutual Assistance Agreement
      • Emergency management coordinators
      • Disaster recovery planners
      • Directors of business continuity planning
      • Managers of emergency preparedness and response
      • Safety specialists
  • Registration Options
  • Member: $629 USD
    Regular: $1,259 USD

    Member registration price increases $100 after October 17, 2017. Regular registration price increases $200. Registration includes all meals and receptions, and all program materials. Guest tickets are available for $99 and allow for 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 Eric Christenson, Senior Program Manager at (971) 303-2118.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Welcome Reception at the Hotel

Thursday, November 2, 2017

7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Registration and Breakfast

Served in Opal Foyer

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Welcome to SDG&E
Speaker(s): Katie Speirs, Vice President, Electric System Operations, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, Randy Clark

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Introductions + Current Issues Roundtable
Facilitator(s): Nancy Sacré, Emergency Management Program Manager, Southern California Edison

Please come prepared ready to share recent successes and challenges. Learn what others are facing and where we can work collaboratively to resolve common issues and leverage each others' experiences.

9:15 AM - 9:30 AM


9:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Lessons Learned from Hurricane Irma and the Northern California Wildfires
Moderator(s): Barron Kelley, Manager - Gas Operations, Dominion Energy Utah
Panelist(s): Thomas Jacobus, Principal Manager, Southern California Edison, Jeff Briggs, Emergency Preparedness Program Manager, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Mark Oens, Senior Manager, Regional Design & Construction Services, Snohomish County PUD

We will have a panel discussion with utilities from the West that were involved in the coordination and provision of restoration personnel to Florida after Hurricane Irma and the recent support for PG&E's response from the wildfires.. We will learn the tactics and lessons from their experiences.

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM


11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Damage Modeling Program
Speaker(s): Cecile Pinto, Manager, All Hazards Planning, and Response Support, Pacific Gas and Electric Company

PG&E leads a discussion on outage models, presenting their own Damage Following Program.  We also share and discuss results from a recent EEI survey of operating companies on how they use damage prediction models to prepare for weather events.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Catered Lunch

Served in Opal Foyer

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Critical Lifelines Discussion
Speaker(s): Daniel Stevens, Training & Exercise Program Manager, Southern California Edison

Discussion on utility integration into the public sector emergency management and interdependent lifelines.

2:00 PM - 2:15 PM


2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

Southern California Edison's Fire Management Programs
Speaker(s): Scott Brown, Technical Specialist/Scientist 4, Southern California Edison

Southern California Edison's fire management officers present information about their program, fire season and the electrical safety training they just rebooted, and how they use internal field craft to supplement monitoring fires and how they may threaten the system.

3:15 PM - 3:30 PM


3:30 PM - 4:00 PM

RAMP-UP Tool Demonstration
Speaker(s): Jason Singer, Director, Resource Management, ARCOS LLC

RAMP-UP is the tool that EEI now requires for their members. As we continue to explore the opportunity to provide all WRMAA Members access to the tool, we provide a demonstration of the tool to all. Mr. Singer will cover an introduction on what RAMP-UP, including:

  • Signing in and Entering Requests & Responses
  • The Allocation Calculation
  • Matching & the Match Log
  • Reports and Future Enhancements

4:00 PM - 4:15 PM

All Hazards Consortium Fleet Working Group Update
Speaker(s): Jim Nowak, Director of Utility Services, ARCOS LLC

The Multi-State Fleet Response Working Group (FRWG) is a private sector guided, public/private working group focused on supporting any efforts and organizations that can help expedite the movement of private sector repair and supply chain fleets and resources across multiple state borders in response to disasters. Followers and Members of this working group include both private and public sector individuals who volunteer their time to engage  in  the important efforts to expedite the restoration of power, supply chains and other critical infrastructures.

4:15 PM - 4:30 PM

Day 1 Close
Speaker(s): Nancy Sacré, Emergency Management Program Manager, Southern California Edison

Friday, November 3, 2017

7:00 AM - 8:00 AM


8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Annual Business for the Western Region Mutual Assistance Agreement
Facilitator(s): Thomas Jacobus, Principal Manager, Southern California Edison

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

WRMAA Activation Exercise Part 1
Speaker(s): Erin Swearingen, Senior Program Manager, Enterprise Business Continuity, Avista Corp., Nancy Sacré, Emergency Management Program Manager, Southern California Edison, James Nowak, Director of Utility Services, ARCOS LLC

We will walk through all the steps in a formal WRMAA activation request, including the process and technology that is used. We will also look for ways to improve the process so that Members know what to do when help is needed.

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Break for Hotel Checkout

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

WRMAA Activation Exercise Part 2

Part 2 of the Activation Exercise will be an open discussion for process improvements.

11:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Day 2 Close

Hotel + Travel

  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (888) 627-9033 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute to receive a special rate of $199 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until October 17, 2017 or until the WEI room block is full.

    Please note that there is a $20 resort fee per night in addition to the room rate. This fee includes the following amenities: airport shuttle service, guestroom internet access and access to the Westin Snack Hour every day from 5PM – 6PM.

Meet The Speakers

James Nowak


Director of Utility Services
Learn More

James D. Nowak, Sr. Director of Operations, Product and Services joined ARCOS in July 2014 after retiring from American Electric Power (AEP) after 37 years.

Nowak capped his career with AEP by directing their utility’s distribution emergency restoration planning group. Nowak held various positions within AEP including Dist. Engineering Supervisor, Dist. Line Supervisor, Dist. Records Superintendent, Region Operations Manager, Region Dispatching Manager and Dist. Dispatch Support Manager.
As Sr Director of Operations, Product and Services Nowak manages ARCOS Product Management initiatives by working closely with our customers and all internal employees. He also helps with implementing projects that benefit our customers and the electric and gas industries in the areas of day-to-day and emergency operations and services.

Presently a member of the All Hazard Consortium (AHC) Fleet Response Working Group (FRWG) on the movement of resources during restoration efforts and sits on their steering committee. He previously held positions as Southeastern Electric Exchange’s (SEE) chair for their Mutual Assistance Committee and Distribution Council and vice chair of their Smart Grid Task Force. Jim was one of the original Co-Chair’s for Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI) Mutual Assistance Committee and National Mutual Assistance Resource Team and a member of EEI’s National Response Event (NRE) governance and exercise sub-committees. Jim was also a co-founder of the Great Lakes Mutual Assistance Group and active member and leader in the Midwest Mutual Assistance Group and the Texas Mutual Assistance Group and represented AEP on the Business Round Table Disaster Relief Committee.

Jason Singer


Director, Resource Management
Learn More

Jason Singer is currently the Director of Resource Management Services at ARCOS LLC. Previously, Jason was Macrosoft’s Director of Utilities Practice where he managed all aspects of their utility portfolio including Resources on-Demand, Assessments on-Demand, Outage Central, and Mine-Weather. Jason works closely with dozens of major utility clients to delivery technology solutions that solve emergency restoration challenges. Jason earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University.

Daniel Stevens

Southern California Edison

Training & Exercise Program Manager

Cecile Pinto

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Manager, All Hazards Planning, and Response Support

Nancy Sacré

Southern California Edison

Emergency Management Program Manager

Scott Brown

Southern California Edison

Technical Specialist/Scientist 4

Erin Swearingen

Avista Corp.

Senior Program Manager, Enterprise Business Continuity
Learn More

Erin Swearingen is a Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) with 20 years of experience in business continuity, disaster recovery and emergency preparedness and management. Erin has designed and implemented business continuity programs for various industries including the financial industry.

Erin has been with Avista for over 5 years and has implemented the Enterprise Business Continuity program which includes business continuity, disaster recovery and emergency operations response.

She has also developed and implemented emergency response and life safety programs, promoting employee safety, personal preparedness and preparedness education.

Thomas Jacobus

Southern California Edison

Principal Manager

Barron Kelley

Dominion Energy Utah

Manager - Gas Operations
Learn More

Barron began his career in Operations working as a dispatcher in the Operation’s Dispatch Department. During that time he became involved with developing the first of a series of applications for managing field service work in a mobile workforce environment. After working in that area for 6 years, he spent 10 years as a business consultant supporting the telecommunications for QGC that included the QGC Call Center, Dispatch applications, Radios, and field service’s applications in the vehicle. Barron also spent 5 years in the IT Department as a network analyst where he implemented and supported WANs/LANs, Firewalls, Web filtering services, and implemented VPNs to support a mobile workforce.

After finishing his MBA, Barron took a position in QGC Operations managing the Dispatch and scheduling Operations for Dominion Energy West Gas Operations, formerly Questar Gas, and is currently managing and supporting that group and other assigned IT projects that involve Operations.

Katie Speirs

San Diego Gas & Electric Company

Vice President, Electric System Operations
Learn More

Speirs holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from San Diego State University, bachelor’s degrees in English and history from the College of William & Mary, and a master’s degree in African studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. She serves on the Advisory Board for the BE WiSE (Better Education for Women in Science and Engineering) organization, which is affiliated with the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center.

Jeff Briggs

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Emergency Preparedness Program Manager

Mark Oens

Snohomish County PUD

Senior Manager, Regional Design & Construction Services