Powering Strong Communities
Virtual Event

Underground Distribution Systems

Part one of the Underground Distribution Systems Series. Learn all about the effective design, construction, operation, and maintenance of underground electric distribution systems.
January 23 - February 1, 2024
12:00pm - 4:00pm Eastern

Return to the Underground Distribution Systems Virtual Series

Learning Environment

Join us as we hold this popular course as a series of six interactive virtual sessions using the Zoom meeting platform. It’s a convenient way to attend the course, while still having the opportunity to interact with the instructors, connect with your industry peers, and earn 25.2 PDH credits. 

This course is applications-oriented, including real-time presentations, breakout sessions, in-class examples, quizzes, live polling, Q&A sessions, and group discussions. 


Participate in a 45-minute orientation session on Monday, January 22, followed by six real-time sessions from Noon-4 p.m. ET on January 23, 24, 25, 30, and 31, and February 1. There will be two 15-minute breaks incorporated into each session.

This is the first course in a two-part virtual series on Underground Distribution Systems.

Course Overview

Learn all about the effective design, construction, operation and maintenance of underground electric distribution systems. Review critical factors involved in the conversion of overhead systems to underground. Discuss operations, safety and regulatory requirements, and hear from an industry cable application engineer about underground cable reliability, failure modes, and testing methods. Also hear from an industry cable application engineer. 

Recommended for

Designed for electric utility engineers, designers, technicians, and field personnel who are responsible for, or who make decisions concerning, distribution systems, as well as those involved in the management, construction, and operations aspects of distribution systems.

This course is conducted at a practical level and is appropriate for degreed engineers and engineering technicians, as well as non-degreed high school graduates with a general knowledge of the electric utility system. 

It is highly recommended that you attend this course in conjunction with the Advanced Underground Distribution Systems online course (February 27 – 29). Discounts apply for attending both courses.

Course Schedule and Topics

Orientation Session: January 22 (1-1:45 p.m. ET)
We request that all participants attend this session, though a recording will also be made available. The session will cover:

  • Instructor and participant introductions
  • Course overview, materials, and expectations
  • Technology and logistics (the APPA document portal and homework/exercises)
  • Zoom functionality (breakout rooms, webcams/audio, best practices, etc.)
  • Completion requirements for continuing education credits

Each subsequent session will be held from Noon – 4 p.m. ET.  

Session 1: Introduction to Underground Distribution, Policies & Customer Service Terms/Conditions
January 23

  • UD History, Terminology, Equipment
  • UD Practices
  • Overhead vs. Underground
  • Regulation, Economics & Joint Trench
  • OHD to UGD Conversion
  • Regulation, Economics & Joint Trench
  • Overhead to Underground Conversion

Session 2: Underground Distribution Planning & Design
January 24

  • Today’s Distribution System/Customer Load Estimation
  • Circuit Configurations
  • Sectionalizing Equipment
  • Voltage Regulation & Voltage Flicker
  • Planning & Layout

Session 3: Cable Design & Applications
January 25

  • Medium Voltage Cable Design
  • Medium Voltage Cable Applications
  • Cable Failure and Testing
  • Cable Accessories

Session 4: Cable Installation, Underground Transformers, and UD Protection & Reliability
January 30

  • Cable Installation
  • Underground Transformers
  • Distribution Grounding

Session 5: Underground Distribution Protection & Reliability
January 31

  • Distribution Overcurrent Protection
  • Coordination Methods
  • Fault Indicators
  • Overvoltage Protection

Session 6: Underground Distribution Protection & Reliability
(continued) and UD Maintenance
February 1

  • NESC Introduction
  • NESC Part 3
  • Underground Distribution Cable & Structure Maintenance Replacement
  • Underground Distribution Equipment Maintenance 

Course Level

Basic/Intermediate: No prerequisites, though some advance preparation is requested, including attending an orientation session on January 22.

For those looking for more comprehensive training, it is highly recommended that you attend this course in conjunction with the Advanced Underground Distribution Systems online course (Feb. 27-29). Discounts apply for attending both courses. 

Additional Requirements

  • Participants are required to have a scientific calculator or smart phone calculator app.
  • The instructors recommend having a print copy (or having access to a digital copy) of the 2023 National Electric Safety Code® (NESC) during class. Copies can be purchased from IEEE and a copy can be shared among attendees who may be participating together in the same location.
  • Participants are also encouraged to submit interesting underground distribution photos, as well as their underground distribution design guides and standards to the instructors in advance of the course.


The following continuing education credits will be provided, after successfully completing 90% of all six live sessions. Certificates will be available by Feb. 15. These sessions will be recorded, though certificates can only be awarded to those who participate in the live events.
Recommended CEUs 2.1/PDHs 21/CPEs 25.2
Field of Study: Specialized Knowledge


minerLead Instructor: R. John Miner, P.E., is an accomplished executive manager and educator with over 45 years of experience in the electric utility industry. He is president of Collaborative Learning, Inc., of Austin, Texas, and has been an APPA instructor for more than 30 years and an instructor for the University of Wisconsin for 20 years. Before forming his own company, he worked for the Austin, Texas, Electric Utility Department, Rochester Public Utilities in Minnesota, and as an assistant professor for the University of Houston. John earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering (with honors), and a Master of Science degree in engineering science, both from the University of Toledo. John is a Senior Life Member of the IEEE and is a registered Professional Engineer in the states of Texas and Minnesota. He is also the author of the first three editions of APPA’s Electric Utility Basics manual.

tom black headshotThomas Black, P.E., is an independent consultant and educator in the electric and gas utility industry. His experience includes both municipal (Colorado Springs and City of Fountain, CO) and investor-owned utilities across multiple jurisdictions in Colorado, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. His range of experience in the utility industry covers 30 years and includes planning and engineering, standards, construction and maintenance manager, energy delivery general manager and chief energy officer responsible for all aspects of energy supply, electric transmission and distribution and gas distribution. He also has extensive executive level experience including serving as chief energy officer and energy delivery general manager. Tom has also served on the boards of RMEL and the Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities and is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

ericErich Schoennagel, P.E., has cultivated over 45 years of experience in the electric industry. He is a former manager and engineer with CenterPoint Energy and managed the Transmission Project Engineering group. Erich served for 15 years as a member advisor and chairman of the Underground Transmission Task Force for the Electric Power Research Institute until his retirement from CenterPoint Energy. There he directed research related to underground transmission and superconductivity. He was a board member of the annual TSDOS symposium, and a former member of the American Concrete Institute 336 committee related to foundation design and construction.


Held in partnership with:

Collaborative Learning, Inc.



Register Now!

Registration Fees

Registration is for individual access. If you have multiple people interested in attending, group discounts are available.

Bundled Series (Save $200)


Includes Both Courses


Individual Courses




*Non-member rates are double the member rate.

Group Discounts

Save money when your organization registers five or more people for the same class or the bundled series. The larger your group, the more you save! 

Registrations must be submitted on the same order (at the same time) to qualify for the group discount; discounts cannot be retroactively applied to previous orders. 

If you need assistance, contact [email protected].

Number of registrants

Individual Courses (per person, per class)

Bundled Courses (two classes, per person)
















Registration Help

Check out our Registration FAQs for answers to the most common questions and help with all your registration-related issues. 


All events will be recorded and attendees will automatically receive a copy of the recordings, in case you can’t attend live.

Registrants who cancel in writing at least 7 days before the first day of a course are entitled to a refund of their registration fee, minus a $100 cancellation fee. Registrants who cancel after that will not receive a refund, but attendee substitutions will be allowed for this event only. Registrants and no-shows who do not cancel at least 7 days before the course start date are responsible for the full registration fee and are not entitled to a refund.

Cancellation deadlines: 

  • Underground Distribution Systems Virtual Series (both classes): Cancellations must be received on/before January 16
  • Underground Distribution Systems: Cancellations must be received on/before January 16
  • Advanced Underground Distribution Systems: Cancellations must be received on/before February 20
  • Cancellation requests should be made through your My.PublicPower portal, or addressed to: [email protected]



Earn While You Learn!

Participate in virtual programs to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs), Professional Development Hours (PDHs) and Continuing Professional Education credits (CPEs).

What educational credits are available?

You can earn the following kinds of continuing education credits for attending live sessions—provided the following requirements are met:

Requirements for Successful Completion

  • Attendees are required to attend and participate in 90% of each live session and complete an online evaluation after the last session in a course.
  • Partial credit cannot be given for partial attendance.
  • Attendance is monitored by an APPA staff member during the event, through an online report log, and upon review of the post-event evaluation data.
  • Completion certificates will be available within two weeks of the last session in a live event (for those who meet the requirements) through your APPA member portal (access instructions will be provided).
  • Virtual sessions are recorded (attendees automatically receive access to recordings within a week of the last session), though continuing education credits can only be given for attending live events. Recordings will be accessible for 90 days after the last session.

 IACET logoContinuing Education Units (CEUs): The American Public Power Association is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and is authorized to issue the IACET CEU. For information regarding certification status, attendance requirements and obtaining attendee transcripts, contact [email protected]

CPE logoContinuing Professional Education (CPE) Credits: The American Public Power Association is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: www.learningmarket.org. Unless noted, there are no prerequisites for the courses offered and no advance preparation is required. Courses are group-internet based offerings at the basic program level (unless otherwise noted). Credit hours and areas of study for the courses are listed on the individual course pages. For more information regarding administrative policies, such as clarification of requirements, complaints, and refunds, please contact [email protected].

Professional Development Hours (PDHs): The American Public Power Association’s educational practices are consistent with the criteria for awarding Professional Development Hours (PDHs) as established by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Course eligibility and number of PDHs may vary by state.


Additional Information

Format and Log-In Information

These classes will be offered on the Zoom meeting platform.


  • 24 hours after registering: You’ll receive a confirmation email within 24 hours of registering, which contains some preliminary information.
  • 24 hours before: 
    • You’ll receive your Zoom log in links the day before the first session in a course (sent from the APPA Academy’s Zoom account <[email protected]>)
    • You’ll also receive a final logistics email 24 hours in advance of the first class. 
  • If you don’t receive this, email [email protected].

Course Materials and Recordings

  • Zoom Links: Zoom log in credentials will be sent out 24 hours before the start of the first session.
  • Course Materials: Attendees will receive access to course materials the day before each session through the "Documents" section of their My.PublicPower.org user portal. 
  • Recordings: All sessions will be recorded and can be accessed through your user portal as well (within a week of the last class in the program), in case you can’t attend the live versions. Recordings will be accessible for 90 days after the last session. Note: Continuing education credits can only be issued for attending live sessions.

Technology Requirements

  • Zoom Meeting Application: Attendees are required to have strong Internet access, in order to run the Zoom meeting platform. Please see below for more information on downloading the Zoom Web Client.
  • Audio/Webcam: You will need to enable computer audio to listen and speak (alternatively a call-in number will be provided) and you will also need a webcam, so you can fully engage in the small group breakout sessions and group discussions.

New to Zoom?

If you haven't participated in a Zoom meeting before, please download the Zoom web client from the Zoom Download Center. This will enable you to access all of the Zoom tools and functionality vs. using the web version. Then, visit Zoom.us/test to ensure you are able to join a meeting. 

If you are not able to download the Zoom web client, you can still participate via your Internet browser. We recommend using Chrome for the best results.

Privacy and Security

The American Public Power Association takes your privacy and security very seriously. For this reason, we have put the following security measures in place for this course:

  • A random Meeting ID
  • Password-protected
  • Enabled waiting room to screen meeting participants
  • Restricted screen sharing to hosts only