Customer Connections Conference

Customer Connections Conference Sessions—Tuesday P.M.

Tuesday, November 6

1:30 — 2:45 p.m.

Recommended CEUs .1 / PDHs 1.25 / CPEs 1.5

Customer Service Roundtable: Staffing
Share best practices in hiring, retaining, and developing customer service staff at all levels. Discuss hiring, mentoring, motivating, and leadership skills.

The Rate Race: What Does Your Community Want?
Considerations for rate design are evolving with new technologies, policy changes, changing customer preferences, and community goals — including environmental efforts, distributed generation and energy efficiency. How can your community-owned utility achieve these objectives while setting rates that recover costs, ensure reliability, and are fair to all customers? Learn from the experts and utilities that are ahead in the rate race. 

  • Mark Beauchamp, President, Utility Financial Solutions, LLC, Holland, Michigan
  • Liz Jambor, Manager, Data Analytics and Business Intelligence, Austin Energy, Texas

Key Accounts Panel: When They Expect More
What are key accounts really looking for in utility services? Bring your questions to this panel and gain insight into what your business customers expect as technologies, lifestyles, and ways of work evolve. Explore how to innovate to meet the needs of your key accounts while retaining core public power values of affordability, reliability, and community responsiveness. Define what qualities a key accounts manager needs to keep up with change and help customers stay on the cutting edge.

  • Marc Clinch, Chief Facilities Officer, School District of Osceola County
  • Chuck Dalton, Senior Facilities Engineer, BRIDG – Bridging the Innovation Development Gap
  • James Fisher, Commissioner, City of Kissimmee
  • Steve Gordon, Chief Operations Officer, Osceola Regional Medical Center
  • Michael Renaud, Chief Facilities Operations Engineer, Osceola County Facilities Management & Maintenance
  • Scott Grieves, Account Manager, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida (moderator)
  • Susan Postans, Vice President of Customer Service, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida (moderator)

Five Ways to Up Your Social Media Game

Get tips on how to enhance the quality of your content, conversations, and engagement on social media. Discuss algorithm tips and tactics including live video, stories, boosting and ads, and how to leverage geotags and hashtags.

  • Sam Gonzales, Director, Digital & Social Media, American Public Power Association
  • Joel Alexander, Manager-Communications, City Utilities of Springfield
  • Catherine Cronin, Communications Manager, Vera Water and Power


3:15 — 4:30 p.m.

Recommended CEUs .1 / PDHs 1 / CPEs 1.5

A Spoonful of Engagement Helps the Rate Medicine Go Down
A rate change may not always be good news for customers but they’ll accept it better if they’ve been part of the decision-making. Learn how you can gain support for rate increases through continuous community education and involvement. Plan to seek customer input ahead of time. Hear how utilities can develop public information programs as part of their rate studies to ensure customers are informed, engaged, and supportive of rate increases.

  • Chris Deffenbaugh, Senior Public Involvement Specialist, Burns & McDonnell, Kansas City, Kansas
  • Ted Kelly, Senior Project Manager of Regulatory Services, Burns & McDonnell, Kansas City, Kansas

Getting in Front of Customers Getting Behind the Meter Solutions
Residential and business customers who wish to take renewables into their own hands — or on to their own roofs — are not likely to stop and consult with your utility first. However, you can proactively position your utility as a trusted, impartial energy advisor and educate customers on considerations and best practices in installing behind the meter solutions. Gain insight into the corporate world’s sustainability targets. Hear successful practices for helping customers make the right choices, pick the best vendors, and consider the long-term implications and savings.

  • Steve Chriss, Director, Energy Strategy and Analysis, Walmart Inc., Bentonville, Arkansas
  • Mike Hildebrand, Vice President, Account Management Solutions, E Source, Boulder, Colorado

Start at Home: Initiating New Governance Officials 
Appointed and elected board members, city council representatives, and local and state policymakers can be better advocates for your utility when they truly understand public power’s unique benefits. Discover creative ways to educate them and make them your best ambassadors. Get tips and resources—including Public Power 101 tools and templates from the Association—to get your officials aligned with the message of community ownership and control so they can advocate with power. 

  • Joe Gehrdes, Director, Communications & Public Relations, Huntsville Utilities, Alabama
  • Carolyn Justice-Hinson, Communications & Community Relations Officer, Fayetteville Public Works Commission, North Carolina

Roundtable: Joint Action Agencies & Associations
Meet with your peers from joint action agencies and state and regional associations to discuss hot topics in customer service, energy services, key accounts, and public communications.

  • Carol Brehm, Member Relations Representative, NMPP Energy, Lincoln, Nebraska (moderator)