Event Profile

Northwest Communications & Energy Innovations Conference

September 11 — 14, 2016
DoubleTree Edgewater - Missoula



Who Should Attend:

Marketing, public relations, communications, energy services, renewable energy, and key accounts employees, as well as any employee and board member with an interest in these areas.

Conference Overview:

The theme of this year's Northwest Communications & Energy Innovations Conference (NIC) is The Stars Are Out in Big Sky Country: A Campout in Missoula. The NIC Planning Committee has designed this conference with communicators and energy efficiency professionals in mind. We have keynote speakers who will inspire you and challenge your thinking about how we should communicate and innovate in this challenging world of the electric utility industry. Presenters scheduled to be at this year's conference include John Di Stasio, Large Public Power Council; Tom Stenzel, TEDxBozeman; Kai Kight, innovator and violinist; and many more to come!

Related Course:

Speaker Training Camp from a TEDx Trainer:  How to Become a More Confident, Dynamic, and Riveting Speaker - Sept. 14, 2016, 1 to 5 p.m. following the NIC Conference. Separate registration is required for this event.

Conference Agenda:

2016 Northwest Communications and Energy Innovations Conference (NIC):

The Stars Are out in Big Sky Country: A Campout in Missoula

 Click here to view a PDF of the conference program

Day 1: Sunday, September 11, 2016

Early afternoon — Group activities TBD 

2–5 p.m. — Registration desk open 

3–5 p.m. — Exhibit set up 

6:30-9 p.m. — Welcome reception with heavy appetizers and People’s Choice Award photo entries

All are invited to attend


Day 2: Monday, September 12, 2016

6:30–7:30 a.m. — Fitness walk

Early birds are invited to gather in the lobby near the front doors to come along on a morning walk and explore Missoula.

7:30 a.m.– 4:30 p.m. — Registration desk open

7:30–8:30 a.m. — Breakfast buffet

8:30–8:40 a.m. — Welcome to the 2016 NIC

Julee Cunningham, 2016 Conference Chair, Snohomish PUD

8:40–9:30 a.m. — General session #1
Change and Change Management

Change is a constant in today’s society driven by technology, consumer expectations and policy. Utilities who build the capacity to navigate change based on a sound set of organizational values, principles and practices will navigate the transition well.

Speaker: John Di Stasio, President, Large Public Power Council

Introduced by: Julee Cunningham, 2016 Conference Chair, Snohomish PUD

9:30–10:15 a.m. — Breakout sessions #1 (choose one)


It’s a Visual World
Video is growing tremendously as a tool for communicating with customers. Regardless of budget, you can create effective and compelling videos that can help your utility tell its stories in a more dynamic and appealing way. And, technology continues to make it easier to capture, produce and distribute your videos. Whether you’re using a digital camera or camcorder, a smartphone, a GoPro or an unmanned aerial vehicle, you’ll learn professional tips and techniques to take your video skills to the next level.

Speakers: Jim Dukart, Producer, Transmission & Distribution World; and Mike Radel, Community Project Specialist, Flathead Electric Co-op

Moderator: Joel Scruggs, Public Affairs Specialist, BPA

Energy Efficiency: 

EE Technology, Including Mobile

10:30–11:45 a.m. — General session #2
Hackers, Malware, and Phishing, Oh My!

What is this weird email? Wait! Don’t click that link. NO! You’ve been hacked! Columbia REA Database Administrator Brendan Johnson and Snohomish PUD Media Liaison Neil Neroutsos will share real-world examples of where security culture has come up short, discuss threats your office personnel could face, and provide tools for being better equipped. This non-technical cyber session also will cover information about recent penetration tests conducted by the Washington National Guard to break through Snohomish’s security and steps the utility took to shore up its systems.

Panelists: Brendan Johnson, Database Administrator, Columbia REA; Neil Neroutsos, Media and Public Relations Liaison, Snohomish PUD

Moderator: Scott Peters, Manager of Marketing and Member Services, Columbia REA

11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. — Lunch

1-1:50 p.m. — General session #3

Kilowatts for Cannabis – The Recreational Marijuana Industry: Opportunities and Implications for Electric Utilities

Jage will provide an overview of the cannabis industry in the United States and the Pacific Northwest; present data that captures the scope and size of the market; discuss energy-related challenges marijuana businesses face; and provide insight into how utilities can strengthen their relationships with the cannabis sector.

Speaker: George Jage, President and Publisher, Marijuana Business Daily

Introduced by: Joel Myer, Public Information & Government Relations Manager, Mason County PUD No. 3

2–3 p.m. — Breakout sessions #2 (choose one)
Communications/Key Accounts: 

Economic Development: Opportunities in Communications, Key Accounts, and Economic Development

Many customers — Keep them happy and growing

Panel talks: dos, don’t's

Panelists: Joel Myer, Public Information & Government Relations Manager, Mason County PUD No. 3; Scott Peters, Manager of Marketing and Member Services, Columbia REA; Lance Robertson, Public Affairs Manager, Eugene Water & Electric Board; and Sarah Johnson, Customer Relations & Services Manager, Clatskanie PUD


Moderator: Libby Calnon, Community & Public Relations Supervisor, Columbia River PUD

Energy Efficiency: 

Branding the Bonus Benefits of Energy Efficiency

Health, comfort, noise reduction and safety are just some of the added benefits from energy efficiency upgrades and improvements. However, at a time when energy savings are thinner, installed costs are rising, and avoided costs remain flat, non-energy impacts are seldom included and some residential weatherization and HVAC measures in the Northwest are on the verge of no longer being cost effective. This session will cover the latest valuation practices; how others are monetizing certain benefits; a methodology for valuing health, comfort, noise reduction and safety in the region; and take a look at BPA’s proposed research on total resource cost.

Panelists: Phillip Kelsven, BPA; and Erin Rose, ThreeCubed.org

Moderator: Jim Maunder, Manager of Member Services, Ravalli Electric Cooperative

3:15–4:30 p.m. — Roundtable discussions #1
An opportunity to participate in hot topics with other NWPPA members based on Survey Monkey topic results


Day 3: Tuesday, September 13, 2016

6:30–7:30 a.m. — Fitness walk
Early birds are invited to gather in the lobby near the front doors to come along on a morning walk and explore Missoula.

7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. — Registration desk open

7:30–8:30 a.m. — Breakfast buffet

8:40–10 a.m. — General session #4
TED Talks Preparation – How to Be a Better Communicator!

You’ve watched them on YouTube and now you can watch and learn in person from the organizer of TEDxBozeman! Tom Stenzel is a professor and speaking coach who has trained thousands of people in customer service and communication skills. This should be one session you don’t want to miss.

Speaker: Tom Stenzel, TEDxBozeman and High Country Speakers

Introduced by: Jim Maunder, Manager of Member Services, Ravalli Electric Cooperative

10:15–11 a.m. — Breakout sessions #3 (choose one)

Educating KidsYoung and Old

Want to start a school or community energy education program? Or, expand one that you already have at your utility? Two utility education experts will share examples, tips and ideas for innovative and low-cost curriculum, events and activities that can launch your public outreach or enhance your efforts in local schools and the community at large.

Panelists: Randy Stearnes, Community Relation Officer, Tacoma Public Utilities, and President, Foundation for Energy Education; and Bob Bauer, Chelan Public Utility District

Moderator: Lance Robertson, Public Affairs Manager, Eugene Water & Electric Board


Energy Efficiency:

Shaping the Load: The New World of DSM as a Power Resource

There’s a new world of demand side management (DSM) that is moving past the delivery of efficient widgets to consumers. Appliance standards and market trends have led to widespread adoption of countless energy-efficient products, but beyond the savings, changes in consumer habits are shifting and increasing load profiles for regional utilities. This session will explore trends in adoption of energy-efficient widgets; the use of conservation voltage reduction to reduce energy and peak demand; and how utilities are succeeding at these new approaches.

Panelists: Carrie Cobb, BPA; Mattias Jarvegren, Utility Services Advisor II, PUD No. 1 of Clallam County; and Dan Morehouse, Energy Management Supervisor, EWEB

Moderator: Jeff Lewis, Member Services Manager, Salem Electric

Key Accounts:

Learn the Latest on Managing the Biggest Stars in the Sky – Your Key Accounts

Key accounts are essential to a thriving community, which is why every utility must consider developing and providing key-account-level service to their business communities. Erick Rheam, co-author of the new APPA Key Accounts Field Manual, will discuss the updated principles and best practices behind successful key accounts program in today’s environment.

Speaker: Erick Rheam, Sales Manager, Automated Energy

Introduced by: Tom DuBos, Regional Business Manager, NISC

11:10 a.m.–noon — General session #5 

Safety Campaigns: A Big Sky Approach to Effectively Communicating Your Safety Messages

Are you frustrated with trying to communicate your important safety messages and feeling like they are being ignored? Do you feel stuck in a rut of providing the same old “stay away from downed power lines” message? The video experts at North 40 will share some shockingly great ideas to use cutting edge videos to help communicate your safety messages in today’s very visual world.

Panelists: Jeff Ostenson, Executive Producer, North 40 Productions

Introduced by: Sarah Johnson, Customer Relations & Services Manager, Clatskanie PUD

Noon–1 p.m. — Lunch with tabletop topics

1–2 p.m. — General session #6

Social Media: Tips and Tricks to Make your Stars Shine Brighter on Social Media

Do you know when the best time to post is, or how to get more likes? Do you struggle with developing and managing a brand strategy with your social media presence? This session will help you learn ways to optimize your use of Facebook and Twitter, and teach you how to draw more customers to your page with increased positive interaction.

Speaker: Jennifer Petersen, Owner/Author, Lassen Social Media

Introduced by: Julee Cunningham, 2016 Conference Chair, Snohomish PUD

2–3 p.m. — Roundtable discussions #2
Designed by utility size

3:15–4:15 p.m. — General session #7
Resources and Ideas to Help You Engage Your Members

Looking to engage your customers (and employees) in their local public power utility? Wonder what programs and services are on customers’ minds? Want to admire and acquire communication and customer service efforts from across the nation? Anne Harvey, Touchstone Energy’s director of member relations and communications, will show you new ways to engage with your customers (and employees!) and reinforce your position as your community’s trusted energy advisor.

Speaker: Anne Harvey, Director, Member Relations and Communications, Touchstone Energy

Introduced by: Scott Peters, Manager of Marketing and Member Services, Columbia REA

6:30–9:30 p.m. — Reception, banquet, and presentation of awards

Day 4: Wednesday, September 14, 2016

7–8 a.m. — Fitness walk
Early birds are invited to gather in the lobby near the front doors to come along on a morning walk and explore Missoula.

8–8:50 a.m. — Breakfast buffet

8–11:30 a.m. — Registration desk open

9–10 a.m. — General Session #8
An Energy Efficiency Debate: Are We Done Yet? Yes, No, or Maybe?

Before you cast your ballot on the future of energy efficiency, you’re going to want to hear this debate as our panelists share their views on if the Northwest still needs traditional implementation programs to achieve its energy efficiency goals. Each panelist will speak for approximately 10 minutes and the audience can join the friendly exchange and offer rebuttal during the Q&A.

Panelists: Larry Blaufus, Senior Manager, Large Industrial Customers/Conservation Planning, Clark Public Utilities; Stephen Boorman, Light Department Director, City of Cheney; Doug Dickson, Manager Residential and Small Commercial, Snohomish County Public Utility District; Megan Stratman, Rates and Policy Director, Northwest Requirements Utilities

Moderator: Bo Downen, Senior Policy Analyst, Public Power Council

10:15–11:30 a.m. — General Session #9
Opening up to Possibilities

As a classical violinist turned innovative composer, Kai Kight uses music as a metaphor to inspire individuals and organizations across the world to compose paths of imagination and fulfillment. Inspired by his own mother who, when diagnosed with cancer, revealed regrets of not bringing her ideas to the world, Kai is on a mission to spark a global mindset shift in which ingenuity is the norm, not the exception.

Speaker: Kai Kight, Innovator/Speaker/Violinist

Introduced by: Libby Calnon, 2017 Conference Chair, Community & Public Relations Supervisor, Columbia River PUD

11:30–11:45 a.m. — Wrap-up and invitation to 2017 NIC
Evaluations and grand-prize drawing (must be present to win)

12:30–5 p.m. — Post-conference workshop (Separate registration required)

Speaker Training Camp from a TEDx Trainer:  How to Become a More Confident, Dynamic, and Riveting Speaker

All public speaking has common elements that create a connection with your audience. In this four-hour workshop
you’ll be taught some of the essentials in giving a great speech, whether it’s a TED talk, company presentation, or live interview for the local news station.  
The first course of action for creating any powerful presentation is discovering the message you're passionate about. Tom Stenzel will bring his experience coaching TEDx speakers to this workshop and help attendees understand that oftentimes the best talks are those where speakers share part of their own personal story or journey that makes the topic important to them.  
Attendees will be asked to prepare a three-to-four-minute speech (approximately 1-1.5 pages typed and double spaced). Speeches will then be used as the baseline for learning important principles of crafting a great presentation.  
Speaker: Tom Stenzel, TEDxBozeman and High Country Speakers

Sponsorship Information:

For sponsorship opportunities please contact Arnie Winkler arnie@nwppa.org or Elaine Dixon elaine@nwppa.org  or call (360) 816-1445

Conference Schedule:

The conference begins on Sunday, September 11, with a welcome reception from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and ends at 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday, September 14. An optional post-conference class will be offered from 1 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, with lunch provided for workshop attendees at 12:30 p.m.

Location & Hotel Information:

DoubleTree Hotel Missoula/Edgewater
100 Madison
Missoula, MT 59802
(406) 542-4611

Room rate: $143 for a single

Please book your room as soon as possible, but no later than August 18, 2016, to secure this rate. Mention that you are with the Northwest Public Power Association when booking your reservation. Or you can book online with the group code NPA.

Conference Fees:

Member Early Bird (ends 8/11/2016): $780
Member Standard: $830

Non-member Early Bird (ends 8/11/2016): $2,340
Non-member Standard: $2,390


For More Information:

To find out more about this event, or to learn about other events, view the Training and Event Catalog.