National Conference

National Conference Preconference Seminars

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 16

  • Electric Utility Industry Overview and Challenges (full day)
  • How the Federal Power Act Impacts Your Utility (morning)
  • Follow the Money: Making Sound Financial Decisions(morning)
  • Cybersecurity: What Leaders Need to Know (afternoon)
  • Advanced Metering: Don't Be Left Behind (afternoon)
  • Strategic Rate Design: Trends and Case Studies(afternoon)

Preconference Seminars - Sunday, June 17

  • Be Prepared: Disaster Planning and Response Guide (morning)
  • Distributed Energy Resources: Managing the Risk (morning)
  • Board Responsibilities: Excellence in Governance (morning)
  • Solar Strategies: Cost Recovery and Pleasing Customers (afternoon)
  • Developing Policies that Demonstrate Effective Board Leadership (afternoon)
  • Disaster Recovery: Navigating FEMA Grants (afternoon)

Registration fees:

  • Half day preconference seminar: Members - $325 (each) / Nonmembers - $650 (each)
  • Full day preconference seminar: Members - $425 / Nonmembers - $850

Note: Registration fees will increase by $50 after May 18.

Register now!

Saturday, June 16

Electric Utility Industry Overview and Challenges
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .7 / PDHs 6.5 / CPEs 7.5, Specialized Knowledge

Get a non-technical overview of the local public power utility and how it’s run. 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.

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

How the Federal Power Act Impacts Your Utility
8:30 a.m. - Noon
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8, Specialized Knowledge

Get an overview of the background, structure, and key provisions of the Federal Power Act (FPA), the principal federal statute providing for regulation of the electric utility industry in the United States. Understand how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) administers and implements the FPA today, and obtain practical information about how FPA regulation impacts municipal utilities and their customers.

Topics include:

  • Structure, organization and regulation under the FPA 
  • Jurisdiction, regulatory role of the states, and preemption
  • Key FPA Provisions and core concepts
  • Review of mergers and acquisitions; securities
  • Supervision of rates, terms, and conditions of service
  • Mechanics of rate filing process at FERC
  • Current regulation of wholesale sales and interstate transmission under the FPA
  • Compulsory transmission under Sections 211 and 211A
  • Regulation of reliability under the FPA
  • Miscellaneous FPA provisions and hydroelectric licensing 

Instructors: Kimberly Frank, Partner, McCarter & English Attorneys at Law, Washington, D.C.; John McCaffrey, Regulatory Counsel, American Public Power Association; and a D.C.-based FERC lawyer (TBA)

Follow the Money: Making Sound Financial Decisions 
8:30 a.m. - Noon
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8, Specialized Knowledge

Maintaining a utility’s financial health involves determining the ability to reinvest in the system, developing stable electric rates, receiving strong bond ratings, and monitoring other indicators to ensure long-term customer satisfaction and continued reliability. Learn how to determine key financial targets and use financial indicators to guide your strategic decision making on cash requirements, rate of return, debt coverage ratio, age of system, capital re-investment, debt policies, transfers to the city, and rate structures for revenue stability. Receive practical insights and real-life examples for using keys targets to improve or maintain your utility’s long-term financial health. Discuss the short and long-term implications of financial decisions. Learn how to communicate utility financial performance and rate changes to governing bodies and customers.

Instructors: Mark Beauchmp, President, Utility Financial Solutions, Leland Michigan; Dawn Lund, Vice President, Utility Financial Solutions, Leland, Michigan

Cybersecurity: What Leaders Need to Know
1:30 - 5 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8, Specialized Knowledge

Learn the foundational knowledge needed to develop a holistic utility cyber and physical security program. Discuss the fundamental concepts of cybersecurity, threat vectors, and risks to your utility. Identify the key elements integral to adopting and implementing a sound cybersecurity framework and applicable practices and standards. Learn from real-world examples by working through a utility case study to build awareness and apply concepts learned in class. 

Topics include:

  • Key cyber and physical security concepts 
  • Developing a holistic cybersecurity program 
  • Cyber risks, trends, and recent incidents in the utility industry
  • Identifying a philosophy, culture of security, and assigning roles and responsibilities to staff
  • Best practices for using a security blueprint for effective cyber risk management 
  • High-level roadmap for a cybersecurity program and mitigation plan 
  • Developing a next-steps plan with headcount and budgeting

Instructor: Doug Westlund, Senior Vice President, AESI – U.S., Inc., Ontario, Canada 

Advanced Metering: Don't Be Left Behind
1:30 - 5 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8, Specialized Knowledge

There’s industry agreement that advanced metering technology and meter data management provide innumerable benefits to utility operations and customer service. Utilities forgoing a metering upgrade risk being left behind and unable to remain viable for the long term. Yet, cost projections and a focus on payback timetables often inhibit small and medium-size public power utilities from pursuing AMI deployments. Learn how to justify the AMI investment. Review the financial case for moving from AMR to AMI, as well as the strategic benefits to advanced metering, which include:

  • Better quality of service through better system maintenance and control
  • Improved monitoring and managing of outages
  • Ability to provide customers with online access to account info, payment options, outage restoration status
  • Ability to incorporate distributed energy resources (energy production, storage, utilization, management, commerce)
  • Revenue stability through more accurate rates and prices
  • Integration and interoperability of hardware, data, telecommunications, and applications from variety of vendors
  • Enhanced monitoring, analyzing, and operating of the electric distribution system from AMI’s ability to provide timely info from a variety of endpoints (e,g, voltage, current, power on/off, power factor, auxiliary inputs/outputs)

Instructors: Steve Collier, Smart Grid Strategies, Milsoft Utility Solutions; and Pat Corrigan, Katama Technologies, Inc.; Dan Kasbohm, Rate Manager, Utility Financial Solutions, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Strategic Rate Design: Trends and Case Studies
1:30 - 5 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8, Specialized Knowledge

Utilities across the nation are evaluating and moving toward more accurate rate structures, providing savings to customers on bills and the utility by reducing costs. Learn how to develop a strategic rate plan that considers utility goals as well as customer impacts. Discuss industry trends and learn how utilities are developing five and ten-year strategic rate plans. Hear how rates can be modified or restructured over time to remain financially viable and competitive. 

Topics include:

  • Considerations when developing of a long-term rate strategy
  • Developing a plan to move toward more accurate rate structures (cost-based rates) to properly recover costs
  • Using new rate structures to promote energy efficiency, electric vehicles
  • Developing a long-term strategic plan for rates: case studies
  • Educating staff, management, governing bodies, and customers and dealing with third party vendors/groups 
  • Evaluating customer and demand charges, time of use rates, real-time pricing, coincident peak demand rates, and setting a proper price signal, etc. (benefits/challenges)
  • Special rates: economic development, rates for large customers, standby rates, etc. 
  • Utility rate trends and case studies 

Instructor: Mark Beauchamp, President, Utility Financial Solutions, Holland, Michigan

Sunday, June 17

Be Prepared: Disaster Planning and Response Guide
8:30 a.m. - Noon
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8, Specialized Knowledge

Customers are increasingly dependent on electricity and thus less tolerant of extended outages. At the same time, the size and frequency of damaging storms and other hazards increase in both size and frequency. To help member utilities meet these dual challenges, the Association has teamed up with Witt O’Brien’s to develop a public power restoration best practices guide to identify best practices in storm restoration efforts. 

Receive an overview of this new publication and hear lessons learned and best practices in storm restoration and mutual aid, highlighting recent examples from the record-breaking 2017 hurricane season.

Topic include:

  • Emergency planning
  • Mitigation and preparedness
  • Maintenance and engineering
  • Crew staging and deployment
  • Damage Assessment and wires down
  • Response and recovery, including estimated time of restoration
  • Customer information
  • Emergency communication
  • Mutual assistance
  • IT: outage management systems scalability

Instructors: Charlie Fisher, Senior Managing Director, Witt O’Brien’s, Washington, D.C.; Anthony Hurley, Managing Director, Witt O’Brien’s, Houston, Texas

Distributed Energy Resources: Managing the Risk
8:30 a.m. - Noon
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8, Specialized Knowledge

Advances in customer-sited distributed energy resources (DER) including energy storage can alter how utilities reliably meet load requirements while adequately recovering costs, presenting risks and impacts across several functions of public power utilities. As DER adoption accelerates, utilities will need to adopt new methods to manage impacts and customer relationships that arise from the increased use of DERs. Walk through public power case studies concerning DER risk mitigation to demonstrate where “business as usual” analytical methods can be improved identifying and managing DER impacts and risk across several functions of the utility.

Instructors: Tony Georgis, Director, NewGen Strategies, Denver, Colorado; Andy Reger, Senior Consultant, NewGen Strategies, Denver, Colorado; and Fred Wellington, Vice President, NewGen Strategies & Solutions, Walnut Creek, California

Board Responsibilities: Excellence in Governance
8:30 a.m. - Noon
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8, Specialized Knowledge

Members elected or appointed to a public power board or city council often have neither a comprehensive job description nor a good understanding of business challenges facing their utility. Come and get an overview of the utility industry and public power business model. Learn about your duties and responsibilities, how to build constructive board-management relationships, and the keys to governing with excellence.

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

Solar Strategies: Cost Recovery and Pleasing Customers
1:30 - 5 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8, Specialized Knowledge

Learn how to ensure you are covering your costs, avoiding subsidization between customer classes and managing customer expectations pertaining to distributed solar. Through case studies, learn about different rate designs like net metering and value of solar and their impacts. Explore how you can address the customer demand for solar and evaluate the impact of a community or utility-scale solar program.

Instructors: Dave Buemi, Managing Principal, Prescient Energy Development, Annapolis, Maryland; Blair Kendall, Director of Origination, Eastern Region, Coronal Energy, Raleigh, North Carolina; Lisa Vedder, Principal, LM Vedder Consulting, Orlando, Florida; and Matt Zehnder, Vice President, KeyBanc, Seattle, Washington

Developing Policies that Demonstrate Effective Board Leadership
1:30 - 5 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8, Specialized Knowledge

Learn how to develop written policies that establish clear expectations for organizational results, governing board performance, and management performance. Be exposed to a systematic process and structure for policy documentation and structure that addresses the full range of policy issues the governing board and management are likely to face. Hear from two public power CEOs on why and how their boards undertook the development of a comprehensive policy manual, and how the policies were implemented. Share challenges and lessons learned. 

Topics include

  • Develop the board’s capability to be intentional and consistent in its policy leadership and decision-making for the organization
  • Establish governance principles and expected norms for governance practices
  • Organize and develop written policies to (1) establish expected organizational results and achievements; (2) address the full range of policy issues that the board and management are likely to face; (3) clearly distinguish the respective roles and accountabilities of the board and management with respect to policy compliance and performance; and (4) clearly delegate appropriate authority to board officers and to the General Manager/CEO
  • Ensure that policies are periodically evaluated with respect to their use (compliance) and outcomes

Instructors: Troy Adams, General Manager, Elk River Municipal Utilities, Minnesota; Tom DeBell, General Manager, Riviera Utilities, Foley, Alabama; and R. John Miner, President, Collaborative Learning, Inc., Austin, Texas 

Disaster Recovery: Navigating FEMA Grants
1:30 - 5 p.m.
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.8, Specialized Knowledge

Public power utilities are eligible to receive disaster assistance through FEMA following major disaster declarations. FEMA’s Public Assistance Grant Program provides reimbursement of costs associated with debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair and restoration of damaged facilities. But, this disaster assistance is subject to eligibility rules applicable to the applicant, facility, work, and cost. 

Receive an overview of FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and learn how to best position your utility to maximize FEMA disaster grant funding. Explore issues faced by public power utilities when recovering from a major disaster, the process of documenting your damages, and the steps that can be taken before a disaster strikes that will make recovery efforts easier for your utility. 

Learn about federal procurement guidelines and requirements, how to avoid common mistakes that can lead to disallowance of funding, hear about FEMA's appeals process, and what to expect if you are targeted for an audit. Discover ways to improve regulatory compliance when designing and executing procurement and contracting processes involved in FEMA disaster grant funding.

Instructor: Valarie Philipp, Associate Managing Director, Witt O'Brien's, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida