Event Profile

Northwest Communications & Energy Innovations Conference

September 17 — 20, 2017
Embassy Suites Sacramento Riverfront Promenade

NWPPA NIC Conference



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.

Related Event:

Shooting Great Portraits with Dave LaBelle, September 20, 2017

Conference Overview:

The theme of this year’s Northwest Communications and Energy Innovations Conference (NIC) is Locally Grown, Locally Owned and it’s going to be all about community in Sacramento this September. The NIC Planning Committee has again designed this conference with communicators and energy efficiency professionals in mind, and they plan on challenging your thinking about how you communicate and innovate in the public power industry through dynamic speakers, industry experts, and engaging activities such as the ever-popular roundtables and networking receptions.

Conference Agenda:

Day 1: Sunday, September 17, 2017

3-5 p.m. Exhibit set up

5-6:30 p.m. Registration desk open

6:30-9 p.m. Welcome reception

    Come cast your vote for the People's Choice Award in photography while enjoying heavy appetizers. All are invited to attend.
    Hosted by Platinum Sponsor EES Consulting

Day 2: Monday, September 18, 2017

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 Old Town Sacramento.

7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Registration desk open

7:30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast buffet (included with hotel stay)

8:30-9:30 a.m. Welcome to the 2017 NIC

    Libby Calnon, 2017 Conference Chair, Columbia River PUD

    General Session #1 - Start With Why

    Every person knows what they do and some know how they do it, but very few know their why. The why is your purpose, cause, or belief – the very reason you are in your role, your utility, your community.

    Speaker: Matt Dunsmoore, Start With Why

9:30-10:15 a.m. Breakout Sessions #1 (choose one):

    Option 1:

      Communications: Social Media & Preparing Your Online Army for Battle

      Come to this session to learn tips for surviving your time in the trenches from someone who has been there. Public Affairs Supervisor John Dobken will talk about how Energy Northwest is successfully facing social media backlash by balancing the social media explosion — and the proliferation of erroneous online content — by training their 1,100 employees to join the conversation and fight fiction with facts.

      Speaker: John Dobken, Public Affairs Supervisor, Energy Northwest

    Option 2:

      Energy Efficiency: Electrifying Your Drive -- Electric Vehicle Programs & Best Practices

      California’s governor wants 1.5 million electric vehicles on the road in the next 10 years. Learn what public utilities in California are doing to get customers who are early adopters of electric vehicles charged and on the road.

      Speakers: Ralph Troute, Project Manager of Electric Transportation, SMUD; and David Bradford, Customer Programs Supervisor, Roseville Electric Utility

10:15-10:30 a.m. Break

    Hosted by Signature Sponsor NISC

10:30-11:45 a.m. General Session #2: Let’s Communicate about Changing Times

    EES Consulting CEO Gary Saleba will discuss the rapidly changing culture in the electric utility industry. He will start with what is changing operationally within the utility sector to include distributed energy resource penetration in the distribution utility market place, why these changes are occurring, and how they affect the operational/engineering aspects of our current utility business model. Saleba will discuss the financial, rate, and communication impacts of this changing environment. Customer/member communication protocol challenges facing the electric utility industry will then be explored. This session will be short on theoretical concepts and long on the practical implications that these changes will place on all of us.

    Speaker: Gary Saleba, President/CEO, EES Consulting

11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Lunch

    Hosted by Silver Sponsor Ruralite Services, Inc.

1-1:50 PM General Session #3: Winter High Bills

    Did you get the winter blues this year? The colder-than-normal winter weather caused an extreme increase in the number of high-bill complaints and requests for energy audits for many utilities. This session will help you develop strategies for the future to grow your arsenal of tips and tricks to help beat the winter blues caused by angry customer/member complaints.

    Panelists: Joel Myer, Public Information and Government Relations Manager, Mason PUD 3; Sarah Johnson, Customer Relations and Services Manager, Clatskanie PUD; and Cyrus Collins, Energy Specialist, Columbia River PUD.

2-3 p.m. Breakout Sessions #2 (choose one):

    Option 1:
      Communications: Videos for Every Budget 

      This session will provide ideas, inspiration, and practical tips for utilizing one of the fastest-growing customer communication channels: video. Jeff Ostenson and Charles Atkinson from North40 will show what’s possible with a production team’s support; and Jim Maunder from Ravalli Electric Cooperative will provide a great look at how his utility is using video to recruit high school students for NRECA’s Youth to Washington, D.C., tour along with the 2017 student winner’s video.

      Speakers: Jeff Ostenson, Executive Producer, North40; Charles Atkinson, Producer, North40; and Jim Maunder, Manager of Member Services, Ravalli Electric Cooperative

    Option 2:

      Energy Efficiency: Lessons Learned from California

      New construction technology and energy-efficient appliances means homes and businesses in California will use less energy. Mandates requiring all new residences in California to build zero-net-energy homes will make reaching our energy efficiency goals tougher to achieve. Learn what’s next in energy efficiency from representatives of the Northern California Power Agency and the California Municipal Utilities Association in response to these challenges.

      Speakers: Jonathan Changus, Member Services Manager, Northern California Power Association; and Justin Wynne, Counsel, California Municipal Utilities Association

3-3:15 p.m. Break

    Hosted by Bronze Sponsor Northwest Water and Energy Education Institute

3:15-4:30 p.m. Roundtable discussions #1

    An opportunity to participate in hot topics with other NWPPA members based on real issues and challenges facing our utilities today.

Day 3: Tuesday, September 19, 2017

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 the historic Sacramento riverfront.

7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Registration desk open

7:30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast buffet (included with hotel stay)

8:40-10 a.m. General Session #4: Let Us Help You Spread the Message that Public Power Matters!

    After receiving a directive from the NWPPA Board of Trustees, NWPPA partnered with Ruralite in 2016 to assist their utility members in increasing the understanding and engagement of their consumer members on the value of public power. The project, Public Power Matters, has completed its research phase and is now ready to unveil its first pieces of collateral from the development phase. Come be the first to see what tools your utility will now have access to use within your community to remind your members that Public Power Matters! Participate in an interactive Q&A session with speaker panelists & project leads.

    Speakers: Debbie Kuraspediani, Communication Director, NWPPA; and Michael Shepard, CEO, Ruralite Services Inc.

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

10-10:15 a.m. Break

    Hosted by Bronze Sponsor Evergreen Consulting

10:15-11 a.m. Breakout Sessions #3 (choose one)

    Option 1:

      Communications: Market Research Methods & Opportunities--Customer Satisfaction and Energy Efficiency Surveys

      Connecting with customers is one of the most important aspects of effective utility communications. In this session, we’ll discuss how to use market research methods such as customer satisfaction surveys and focus groups to learn what matters to your customers, and how to effectively engage with them.

      Speakers: Jason McGrade, Program Manager - Strategic Operations, Touchstone Energy; and Corinne McCarthy, Senior Manager, Market Research & Evaluation, NEEA

    Option 2:

      Energy Efficiency: The Complex Future of Net Metering

      From value of solar tariff to blockchain — do you know what the future holds in the net metering world? Come hear about the state of net metering; how and why it has changed; issues that utilities are facing in media; what utilities may be doing in the future; and messages that you can deliver to your customers.

      Speaker: Gary Wiens, Assistant General Manager, Montana Electric Cooperatives' Association; Jeff Marshall, Communications Specialist, Clearwater Power Co.; Jim Maunder, Manager of Member Services, Ravalli Electric Cooperative; and Philip McAvoy, Finance & Administration Manager, Roseville Electric

11:10 a.m.-noon General Session #5: Federal Legislative Update

    With the swearing in of the 115th Congress on January 3 and inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, lawmakers have started plowing through legislation and nomination hearings at an epic pace. This lively session will provide the latest federal legislative updates on key issues and regulatory news from Capitol Hill. PPC’s Scott Corwin will provide insights on hot topic legislative issues and NWPPA’s Nicole Case will cover the Association’s 16 resolutions that cover key public power federal and regulatory legislative initiatives.  

    Speakers: Scott Corwin, Executive Director, Public Power Council; and Nicole Case, Government Relations Consultant, NWPPA

Noon-1 p.m. Lunch with tabletop topics

1-2 p.m. General Session #6: Cybersecurity -- Hackers, Malware, and Phishing, Oh My!

    What is this weird email? Wait! Don’t click that link. Nooo! You’ve been hacked!

    Columbia REA Database Administrator Brendan Johnson returns to 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. The session also will cover information about the high-stakes game of cybersecurity in the utility setting and what everyday users can do to protect themselves and their company. You do not want to miss this non-technical overview of cybersecurity threats and lessons learned.

    Speaker: Brendan Johnson, Database Administrator, Columbia REA; and Jeffrey Nelson, General Counsel and Vice President of Information Security and Risk Management, NISC

2-3 p.m. Roundtable Discussions #2:

    Designed by utility size

3-3:15 p.m. Break

3:15-4:15 p.m. General Session #7: Energy Efficiency 2.0 - Behavioral Programs

    What does the utility of the future look like? Roseville Electric Utility achieved 22 percent of its energy savings this year through behavioral programs. Come learn from Lyle Morton of Oracle about the science behind behavioral programs and why we can count on the savings. 

    Speaker: Lyle Morton, Senior Manager – Client Success, Oracle

6:30-9:30 p.m. Awards dinner

    Reception, banquet, and presentation of awards, including the People's Choice Award. Music by Lost Sierra Ramblers.

     Reception hosted by Silver Sponsor Embertec

Day 4: Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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 Sacramento.

7:30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast buffet (included with hotel stay)

8-11:30 a.m. Registration desk open

8:45-10 a.m. General Session #8:Grid Modernization: A Tale of Two Projects

    How should we handle necessary smart grid upgrades and public perception? Hear some grid modernization communications tactics ranging from techno-trumpeting to a business-as-usual approach. Learn how smart grid improves the credibility of energy efficiency measurement and verification, and facilitates communicating with customers about energy use.

    Speakers: Justin Holzgrove, Telecommunications & Community Relations Manager, Mason PUD 3; and Jeff Marshall, Communications Specialist, Clearwater Power

10-10:15 a.m. Break

10:15-11:30 a.m. General Session #9: Growing Conservation in the Cannabis Industry

    Learn about the key strategies that utilities can deploy as they begin to engage grow facility owners/operators within their service territory. John Morris, an industry expert, will illustrate the various services that these businesses need including property assessments, education on hook ups/service upgrades, proven technologies that can help them save energy, and a customized approach to this new class of energy customer.

    Speaker: John C. Morris, Vice President Market Development, D+R International

11:30-11:45 a.m. Wrap-up and invitation to the 2018 NIC

    Evaluations and grand-prize drawing (must be present to win)

12:30-5 p.m. Post-Conference Workshop: Shooting Great Portraits with Dave LaBelle

    (separate registration required, lunch provided) 

    If you are your utility’s staff photographer, whether officially or not, then you’ve had to shoot portraits at one time or another, and you will likely have to shoot more in the future. But how do you make your portraits stand out so they don’t all look bland, badly lit, and uncomfortable? Come to this half-day workshop to learn some quick and easy tips and tricks. Renowned, award-winning photographer Dave LaBelle will be travelling to Sacramento to teach a handful of easy and cost-efficient techniques to take better portraits for your print and digital publications. LaBelle promises that you don’t need to create a giant studio to create fantastic portraits – he says you really only need one light and one reflector to make portrait magic regardless if you are inside the office or out in the direct sun.

Conference Schedule:

The conference begins on Sunday, September 17, with a welcome reception from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and ends at 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday, September 20. An optional post-conference class (separate registration required) will be offered from 12:30 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, with lunch provided for post-conference class attendees at noon.

Conference Location & Hotel Information:

Embassy Suites Riverfront Promenade
100 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 326-5000

Room rate: $184 for a single/double

Please book your room as soon as possible, but no later than August 26, 2017, to secure this rate. Mention that you are with the Northwest Public Power Association when booking your reservation.

Conference Fees:

Member Early Bird (ends 8/17/2017): $795
Member Standard: $870

Non-member Early Bird (ends 8/17/2017): $2,385
Non-member Standard: $2,610

For More Information:

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