Customer Connections Conference

Customer Connections Conference Sessions—Tuesday A.M.

Tuesday, November 6


8:30 — 10 a.m.

Recommended CEUs .2 / PDHs 1.5 / CPEs 1.8

Protecting Customer Data: Lessons from Hacks
Data breaches and hacks have been in the news in relation to large corporations. But your utility can be a victim, too! How can you protect your customer, employee, and utility data from hacks? How do you respond if your data is compromised? Hear lessons learned from other utilities and organizations — how they handled the issue and what steps are they taking to prevent recurrence in the future.

  • Doug Westlund, Senior Vice President, AESI, Milton, Ontario

Two Sides of the Same Bitcoin
Bitcoin mining can create significant load growth overnight and miners are drawn to public power territories given the low electricity rates. But Bitcoin’s transitory nature makes it difficult for utilities to plan for a load that, literally, might be here one day and gone the next. Learn from public power utilities that have welcomed bitcoin miners, and those considering moratoriums while they grapple with how to handle this new load and the impact on all customers.

  • Ben Jones, Manager, Economic Development, City Utilities of Springfield, Missouri
  • Andy Wendell, Director of Customer Service, Chelan County PUD, Wenatchee, Washington

Weathering the Storm: Opportunity in Adversity
Back to back Category 4 hurricanes in 2017 presented unprecedented challenges for public power. Hear from communicators who weathered a media storm along with the devastation of the electric grid. Learn how they kept open lines of communication against all odds, coordinated with national associations and state and federal government, tackled tough situations, and helped the public focus on the positive stories of mutual aid and recovery. See examples of traditional and social media activity and get tips for how to handle your next major event.

  • Julio Torrado, Director of Human Resources & Communications, Keys Energy Services, Key West, Florida
  • Amy Zubaly, Executive Director, Florida Municipal Electric Association


10:30 — Noon

Recommended CEUs .2 / PDHs 1.5 / CPEs 1.8

Modeling Customer Service in Your Leadership Style
Ensuring that all utility employees subscribe to a culture of excellence in customer service requires leadership skills and strategies, mentoring, training, and fostering a culture of customer service leadership throughout the organization. Learn how to tap into your leadership skills to foster this culture to embrace and deliver on the customer service ethic and inspire excellence throughout your organization. 

  • Patricia Cruz, Vice President of Consulting & Training, Hometown Connections, Round Rock, Texas 
  • Steve VanderMeer, Senior Vice President of Planning & Marketing, Hometown Connections, Fort Collins, Colorado

EV Charging: To Own or Not to Own
Transportation is the future of electricity. But what are best practices in preparing for growth in electric vehicles? Should utilities be providing charging infrastructure? Some utilities are investing in charging stations while others are stepping back their efforts. And some are forging innovative partnerships and collaborating with other entities to encourage growth in EV adoption. Understand the pros and cons of different approaches and see what’s right for your community. Learn about a new toolkit that can help you design an EV program that works for you.

  • Bill Boyce, Manager, Electric Transportation, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, California
  • Barry Rutherford, Energy Efficiency Engineer, Holland Board of Public Works, Michigan
  • Patricia Taylor, Manager, Regulatory Policy and Business Programs, American Public Power Association, Arlington, Virginia

National Accounts: The Struggle is Real
Public power utilities may face challenges getting in the door to meet with a national account’s corporate energy management team. Hear from both sides of the aisle on what national accounts want, and what your utility can offer. Explore why national accounts are using energy service providers instead of utility key account managers. Hear successful case studies and take away a plan for working with your national accounts. 

  • Steve Chriss, Director, Energy Strategy and Analysis, Walmart Inc., Bentonville, Arkansas
  • Cody Graves, President, Automated Energy, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Public Communications Roundtable
Gather with your utility communications peers for a lively networking session and discussion of the latest and most pressing public communications challenges.