National Conference

National Conference Preconference Seminars

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Designed to help you develop skill sets and dive deeper into complex subject matters, preconference seminars offer longer class times, smaller class sizes, interactive formats and experienced instructors. Seminars require separate registration and fees (in addition to the main conference registration).

Back to the National Conference Agenda

Preconference Seminars - Saturday, June 8

  • Electric Utility Industry Overview: Strategic Challenges & Trends (full day)
  • Distributed Energy Resources: Overview of Financial Risk and Opportunities (morning)
  • Achieving Community Objectives with Strategic Rate Design (afternoon)
  • Talent Wars: Are You Ready for the Next Generation? (afternoon) FREE

Preconference Seminars - Sunday, June 9

  • Governance 101: Basics for Board and Council Members (morning)
  • Wireless Pole Attachments: What's in Store? (morning)
  • The Soup to Nuts of Future-Proofing Your Utility (morning)
  • Strategic Planning Live: A Simulated Immersion (morning)
  • Measuring for Success: Performance Monitoring and Accountability for Boards (afternoon)
  • Crisis Communications: What Every Leader Must Know (afternoon)
  • Integrating New Technologies into Your Distribution System (afternoon)
  • Understanding Cyber Threats: Practical Techniques to Secure Your Utility (afternoon)

Registration fees:

  • Half day preconference seminar: Members - $350 (each) / Nonmembers - $700 (each)
  • Full day preconference seminar: Members - $450 / Nonmembers - $900

Note: Registration fees will increase by $50 after May 10.




Saturday, June 8

Electric Utility Industry Overview: Strategic Challenges & Trends
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8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .7 / PDHs 6.5 / CPEs 7.5

Get a non-technical overview of the local public power utility and how it’s run. Discuss the unique advantages of public power and the value it brings to the community. Learn about the electricity infrastructure from the power grid to the meter. Understand the impacts of regulation and electricity markets. Discuss industry trends and issues that are impacting utilities and challenging the traditional public power business model. Take home a free copy of the American Public Power Association’s Electric Utility Basics handbook. 


Topics include:

  • Electric utility industry regulation and market restructuring
  • Developments in generation and regional transmission
  • Developments in local transmission and distribution infrastructure
  • Strategic issues and trends for electric utilities
  • The public power business model
  • How changes in the industry are affecting local public power systems

Instructor: R. John Miner, P.E., President, Collaborative Learning, Inc., Austin, Texas

Distributed Energy Resources: Overview of Financial Risks & Opportunities
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8:30 a.m. - Noon
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8, Specialized Knowledge

Advances in distributed energy resources present several opportunities as well as risks to your utility. Load management and cost recovery challenges loom large. How can you manage the growth in behind-the-meter technologies and maintain customer relationships? Examine case studies to see how “business as usual” analytical methods can be improved to identify and manage risks. Discuss the effects of integrating distributed energy resource technologies on your utility’s load, operations, resource management, and financial planning. Understand how you can you mitigate financial risk through strategic rate design.

  • Utility operations: Peak load and load shape forecasting and resource planning
  • Financial planning: Estimating cost and revenue impacts on financial performance
  • Rate design strategy: Mitigating financial risk through strategic rate design

Instructors: Scott Burnham, Executive Consultant, Tony Georgis, President, Energy Practice, and Andy Reger, Senior Consultant, NewGen Strategies & Solutions, LLC, Denver, Colorado

Achieving Community Objectives with Strategic Rate Design
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1:30 - 5 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8

Rate setting in community-owned public power utilities must promote revenue stability while reflecting the community’s needs and goals, which may include environmental sustainability, economic development, fairness to customers, and rate stability. Rate designs to achieve one objective often conflict with others. Learn to develop rates that balance all needs and objectives of your utility. Catch up on industry rate trends and discover how other utilities are identifying and implementing strategies to promote energy efficiency, electric vehicles, solar generation, and customer satisfaction. 
Topics include:

  • Aligning rate designs with community objectives and potential pros and cons of different approaches
  • How to control and monitor conflicting rate design objectives
  • Types of rates that promote energy efficiency, electric vehicles, green rates, etc.
  • Rate structures to promote fairness to customers, economic development and provide customers greater control over rates, etc.
  • How more accurate rate structures can achieve the utilities strategic objectives
  • Identify transition strategies used by utilities around the nation


Mark Beauchamp, CPA, CMA, MBA, President, Utility Financial Solutions, Holland, Michigan

Talent Wars: Are You Ready for the Next Generation?  FREE!
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1:30 - 5 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8

Free seminar, offered as part of the Association's Supporting Workforce Development strategic initiative

Can public power attract and retain the millennial troops with the digital talent to power our smart world? See how others are building the energy workplace of the future and closing the gaps in diversity and inclusion. Understand generational differences in career expectations and workplace behaviors. Prepare for increased Baby Boomer retirement, manage the forgotten Gen Xers, and engage the millennials. Build a comprehensive plan of action to take on the increasing industry competition for new talent. 


Topics include:

  • Renewables, Microgrids, DSM, Internet of Things aren’t the only critical issues: the changing skills needed for the digital grid; workforce composition by 2025; the war for talent: public power vs. private power vs. service providers vs. broad industry demand
  • When Millennials Take Over: Generational differences (career expectations and workplace behaviors); millennial demographics vs. industry demographics; power industry perception
  • The Millennial Tax: Millennial 5 forces analysis and downstream consequences (why your assumptions are wrong); the real impact of Baby Boomer retirement; Gen X managers (the unseen jeopardy); “don’t know, don’t care and not cool, not coming” – Millennial industry perceptions; the real cost of attraction, attrition and retention to capital expenses and return on investment
  • Winning the Talent War: The employee experience workplace (what, why, and ROI); the employee experience (technical, physical and cultural environment); 2020-2025 game plan to attract and retain talent


Instructor: Janet Kieffer, Principal, INFLUENCE, Austin, Texas



Sunday, June 9

Governance 101: Basics for Board and Council Members
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8:30 a.m. - Noon
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8

Bring your board or city council members, especially the new appointees, to this seminar for a comprehensive overview of public power and their duties, responsibilities, and legal obligations. Review the nuts and bolts of governance requirements such as open meetings and records, fiduciary responsibilities, charters and bylaws, conflicts of interest, and interaction with regulatory agencies. Understand the mechanics of a good board meeting and effective communication between board members, staff, and stakeholders. 


Topics include:

  • Growing importance of governance in public power
  • Key board responsibilities (strategic planning, financial oversight and planning, organizational and CEO performance)
  • Foundational information for the board (duties of care, loyalty and obedience)
  • Organization-specific: charter, by-laws
  • Independent utility governing board: legal relationship and responsibilities to the government agency that formed the utility
  • State-specific rules that may speak to open meetings and records, conflicts of interest, training required, potential PUC oversight, etc.
  • Legal counsel
  • Mechanics of a good board meeting
  • Board communications (between board members, staff and stakeholders)


Instructors: Tim Blodgett, President & CEO, Hometown Connections, Lakewood, Colorado; and Bill Slaton, Senior Consultant, Leading Resources, and former Board President, SMUD, Sacramento, California

Wireless Pole Attachments: What's in Store?
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8:30 a.m. - Noon
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8

In late 2018, the Federal Communications Commission adopted sweeping regulatory changes to remove what it claimed were state and local barriers to the rapid deployment of 5G small cell wireless broadband. For the first time, public power utility poles and other facilities would be subject to federal regulation of rates, terms, and conditions. Get the latest technological and business information on 5G and small cell deployments. Hear an update on the litigation of the FCC’s order, including the Association’s legal arguments, and on state legislative activities. Review lessons learned by public power utilities negotiating with the wireless industry.


Topics include:

  • The status of the litigation of the FCC’s Order, including the Association’s legal arguments
  • An update on the state legislative activities with respect to small cell installations
  • The most recent technological, business and engineering information on 5G and small cell deployments
  • Lessons learned, and questions yet to be resolved, by the growing body of public power utilities that have had experience with negotiating agreements with the wireless industry


Instructors: Joanne Hovis, President, CTC Technology & Energy, Kensington, Maryland; and Sean Stokes, Principal, Baller Stokes & Lide, Washington, D.C.

The Soup to Nuts of Future-proofing Your Utility
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8:30 a.m. - Noon
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8

From revolutionary technologies to new customer and workforce demographics and needs, a host of new challenges and opportunities lie before you. How do you navigate change, leverage trends, and position your utility for success in the long term? Delve into public power's cost recovery paradigm, financial considerations for utility success, and new power supply paradigms (with renewables and storage taking a seat at the table). Explore strategies for success.


Topics include: 

  • Setting the stage for 2020 and beyond
  • Public power cost recovery paradigm
    • Cost structure of public power utilities
    • Capital planning and infrastructure upgrades
    • How financials translate into rates
    • Revenue sufficiency
  • Financial considerations
    • What's the "right" amount of cash to hold
    • What's the "right" amount of debt vs. equity/rate financing
    • How to think about short vs. long term financing
    • What's the "cost" of credit rating
    • Innovative financing mechanisms continuing to drive DG/conservation
  • New power supply paradigm
    • Price points for stand-alone solar and solar hybrids
    • Solar based business models for public power
    • Standalone, off-grid, solar plus storage EV charging stations
    • Residential solar plus storage
    • Business community solar model
  • Five strategies for success
    • Modernize your "grid"
    • Adapt your business model
    • Expand your base
    • Engage stakeholders
    • Create a strategic plan


Instructors: Lisa Vedder, Principal, LM Vedder Consulting, Orlando, Florida; Blair Kendall, Vice President, Origination, Urban Grid Solar, Stevensville, Maryland; David Niles, Vice President, Avant Energy, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Matt Zehnder, Vice President, KeyBanc, Seattle, Washington


Strategic Planning Live: A Simulated Immersion
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8:30 a.m. - Noon
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8

Strategic planning in turbulent times is complex. Join us to understand how your utility will be impacted by advanced technologies, shifting loads, new competitors, and evolving customer expectations. Understand what a holistic strategic planning process for public power can look like. Work through a simulated utility strategic planning exercise and engage in group discussions and exercises to apply key concepts, develop vision and mission statements, determine core values and focus areas, and build the framework for a strategic plan. Leave knowing how to guide your utility through an effective strategic planning and implementation process. 

Instructors: Steve VanderMeer, Senior Vice President, Planning & Marketing, Hometown Connections, Fort Collins, Colorado; and Patty Cruz, Vice President, Consulting & Training, Hometown Connections, Austin, Texas

Measuring for Success: Performance Monitoring and Accountability for Boards
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1:30 - 5 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8

A public power governing board is typically responsible to evaluate itself and the utility CEO or general manager. What can a board do to improve its own effectiveness? And how can board members evaluate the utility leader’s performance and provide clear direction for the future? Join the experts to get tips for effective self-assessments and performance evaluations. See how the board can monitor utility performance on a continuous basis and institute strong review and feedback mechanisms. Learn how board members can grow and evolve to contribute to the growth of the utility and care for the community.

Topics include:

  • Monitoring organizational performance (goals and metrics, communication, oversight)
  • Managing the CEO: hiring, firing and managing the chief executive
  • Evaluating the CEO (frequency and format)
  • Board self-assessment (what to measure and how)


Instructor: Steve VanderMeer, Senior Vice President, Planning & Marketing, Hometown Connections, Fort Collins, Colorado

Crisis Communications: What Every Leader Must Know
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1:30 - 5 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8

When crises happen, you need to be prepared to turn the lights back on AND handle the related communications storm. Your real audience is not just the media. Learn how to connect with customers and stakeholders before, during, and after a crisis to protect your utility’s reputation. Build a rapid response plan to address the demands of social media and the 24/7 news cycle. Review the essentials of effective messaging and the focus at various states of response. Leave with an actionable crisis communications plan and prepare to be a spokesperson for your utility.

Instructor: Neil Nixon, President, Nixon & Associates, Leesburg, Virginia

Integrating New Technologies into Your Distribution System
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1:30 - 5 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8

Utility loads are shifting with increase in electric vehicles, distributed energy resources, energy efficiency, and demand response. Distribution automation and conservation voltage reduction are becoming more advanced, efficient, and affordable. What is the combined effect on retail distribution systems? Take a deep dive into implementing and integrating the range of new technologies. Examine the impacts on planning criteria, data requirements, load forecasting, and system analysis. Discover a new advanced distribution planning approach and learn how to identify the best-fit, no-regrets solutions for your utility. 

Topics include:

  • Leveraging the massive amount of data available to understand current load dynamics
  • Creating a range of spatial forecasts, which analyze a broad range of possible future outcomes
  • Examining common use cases and technical implications of DER technologies for interconnection impact
  • Automating the load-flow analysis to calculate system deficiencies and intelligently match those deficiencies to wired and non-wired alternative solutions
  • Producing a study that is defensible, easy to update, repeatable, and scalable for the entire system
  • Presenting lessons learned from recent and ongoing projects


Instructors: Keith Mullen, PE, Managing Director, Distribution Planning and Analysis, and Trishia Swayne, PE, Managing Director, DER System Analysis, Leidos, Hendersonville, Tennessee


Understanding Cyber Threats: Practical Techniques to Secure Your Utility
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1:30 - 5 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8

Cyber attackers  — whether it’s nation states attempting to damage critical infrastructure, insiders stealing sensitive information, or cyber criminals looking for personally identifiable information — are getting increasingly sophisticated. But if you can step back and see your systems as the attackers do, you can shore up your cyber defenses. Learn about some of the more common attack techniques being used against utilities such as malware, denial-of-service, phishing, and social engineering. Understand who your potential cyber attackers are and what drives them. Review case studies and learn how to implement good cyber hygiene to deflect cyber attacks and reduce your exposure

Instructor: Peter Morin, Director, Cybersecurity & Privacy, PwC, Halifax, Nova Scotia