Preconference Seminars

Offering longer class times, smaller class sizes, interactive formats and experienced instructors, pre-conference seminars will help you maximize the value of your conference experience.

Seminars require separate registration.

Seminars at a Glance

Saturday, June 17

Sunday, June 18


Saturday, June 17

The Electric Utility Business from the Inside Out
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (full day)
Recommended CEUs .7 / PDHs 6.5 / CPEs 7.5, Specialized Knowledge

Gain a non-technical overview of a public power utility and how it’s run. Learn about the electric utility system infrastructure—from power grid to meter—and operation, management, performance, and development. Get up to speed on strategic issues and industry trends impacting utilities and challenging the traditional public power business model. Attendees get a free copy of the American Public Power Association’s Electric Utility Basics handbook.

Topics include:

  • Electric utility industry regulation and market restructuring
  • Generation and regional transmission
  • Local transmission and distribution infrastructure
  • Strategic issues and trends for electric utilities
  • Public power’s business model
  • How changes in the industry are affecting local public power systems

R. John Miner, President,Collaborative Learning, Inc., Helotes, Texas


Strategic Planning: A Step-by-Step Guide
8:30 a.m. – Noon (half day)
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.5, Specialized Knowledge

This is not your father’s electric industry. Significant change is not only coming; it’s here. Public power has a decision to make: will it stay the course and continue doing what it’s always done? Or will it take a hard look at how it can and should serve its communities? This workshop—for both managers and governing board members—will walk through the strategic planning process that can help public power utilities take control of their future. Learn how to design and implement a successful strategic plan for a public power electric utility, state association, or joint action agency. Hear case studies of recent public power strategic planning initiatives. Get a sample strategic planning template, and leave with the understanding to create a realistic, step-by-step blueprint for adapting to utility market conditions, regulatory changes, and the evolving expectations of customers.

Topics include:  

  • How to facilitate the strategic plan’s development with—and buy-in from—organization staff and governing officials
  • Communicating the goals of the plan within the organization and to the community
  • Tracking the deployment of the plan elements
  • Measuring the plan’s effectiveness.

Wes Kelley, President and CEO, Huntsville Utilities, Alabama; and Steve VanderMeer, Senior Vice President, Planning & Marketing, Hometown Connections, Fort Collins, Colorado


Performing a Utility Financial Check-Up
8:30 a.m. – Noon
(half day)
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.5, Finance

A utility’s overall financial health can help ensure its ability to provide reliable service to customers. Discuss how to assess your utility’s financial health and learn how to put a plan in place to reach key financial targets. Hear how key financial targets are calculated and how they work together and review several public power examples. Get a step-by-step outline to complete an assessment of your utility and a guide for decision makers to help understand the short and long-term implications of financial decisions. Key targets that will be discussed include: days of cash-on-hand, minimum cash requirements, rate of return, debt coverage ratio, age of system, proper capital re-investment, debt policies, transfers to the city, and rate structures that support revenue stability.  

Topics include:

  • Cash vs. utility basis
  • Assessing your utility’s financial health compared to key targets
  • Establishing key financial targets for your utility
  • What and how to report to governing bodies and policy makers
  • Proper capital planning and debt issuance
  • Reviewing rate structures to improve revenue stability
  • Communicating utility financial performance and rate changes to governing bodies and customers

Dawn Lund, Vice President, Utility Financial Solutions, Leland, Michigan


Industry Rate Trends and Future Rate Structures
1:30 – 5 p.m. (half day)
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.5, Specialized Knowledge

The way utilities set rates for electric services is changing, due in part to changes in usage patterns resulting from energy efficiency programs, rooftop solar and customer installed behind-the-meter generation. Learn about industry rate trends, the movement towards more stable rate structures and the transition process to properly recover costs from all customers. 

Topics include:

  • Cost shifting concerns for utilities
  • Managing and addressing social concerns around increasing fixed charges
  • Identifying fixed and variable power supply, transmission and distribution costs
  • The importance of marginal costs in sending appropriate price signals to customers
  • Pros and cons of increasing monthly customer charges and costs recovered by fixed charges
  • Transitioning to more advanced rate structures that accurately recover costs
  • Creating a long-term rate plan

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


Sunday, June 18

Communicating the Public Power Advantage
8:30 a.m. – Noon (half day)
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.5, Specialized Knowledge

Value propositions for public power tend to result in lower utility rates, lower property taxes and/or better services to city residents. No matter the size of your budget, every public power community should engage in a strategic dialogue with its customers and key stakeholders to communicate the value of public power. Recent national survey results indicate 4 out of 5 public power customers do not understand their utility's value nor its ownership structure. This interactive course—for both managers and policy makers—will guide you through public power's value proposition and offer a process for determining and communicating your utility's value to your customers.   

Topics include:

  • Understanding and assembling a strategic roadmap for success
  • Knowing how to capture and communicate your utility's value
  • Assessing the financial health of your utility
  • Common characteristics of well-functioning public power utilities
  • Advantages to the city and other agencies from municipally-owned public power system

Mark Beauchamp, President, Utility Financial Solutions, Holland, Michigan; and Tim Blodgett, President & CEO, Hometown Connections, Golden, Colorado


Understanding and Evaluating Board Performance
8:30 a.m. – Noon (half day)
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.9, Specialized Knowledge and Applications

Routine performance evaluation is a necessary part of effective governance; effective governance is essential to the success of public power. Review the role and responsibilities of the governing board. Then explore ways that a board can set its own performance expectations and routinely monitor and evaluate its own performance. Get a self-evaluation template that can be used as a starting point for developing a customized policy and procedure for governance evaluation.

Topics include:

  • Board member understanding of public power and the electric utility industry
  • Board member understanding of their organization, its legal formation/status, and the role of the board
  • Board member performance expectations, orientation, and self-evaluation
  • Developing, reviewing and using board policies
  • Board member perspectives, commitment and development
  • Setting board meeting agendas, and preparing for, participating in and managing meetings
  • Board member trust and cooperation
  • Board relationship with, and evaluation of, management

R. John Miner, President, Collaborative Learning, Inc., Helotes, Texas


Managing the Distributed Energy Risk
8:30 a.m. – Noon
(half day)
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.5, Specialized Knowledge

Advances in smaller customer-sited generation, energy storage and information technologies are rapidly changing how utility customers purchase and consume energy, altering the relationship between the utility and its customers, and influencing how utilities reliably meet load requirements and recover costs. As technology adoption accelerates, utilities will need to adopt new methods to manage risk that arises from these impacts. Learn new approaches to managing risk across financial management, strategic resource planning, and customer engagement functions.

Topics include:

  • Using AMI (and standard metering data) to improve financial management
  • Identifying generation portfolio risks associated with changing customer usage patterns
  • Managing risks associated with attrition of customer load share

Tony Georgis, Director, and Andy Reger, Senior Consultant, NewGen Strategies, Denver, Colorado; and Fred Wellington, Vice President, Energy Practice, NewGen Strategies, San Francisco, California


Crisis Communications for Executives and Board Members
1:30 – 5 p.m. (half day)
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.5, Specialized Knowledge and Applications

It’s been said that an organization’s reputation is its largest uninsured asset—an asset that can be seriously damaged with an ineffective crisis response. With the presence of social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, not to mention a 24/7 media environment, your response to a crisis event must be rapid, strategic and authentic. Get the “damage control playbook” and discover a strategic approach to communicating with stakeholders in a variety of crises. Learn how to control the message and understand the media’s perspective so you can give them the right information at the right time.

Topics include:

  • Communicating your message to your stakeholders through and around the media
  • What to do when a reporter calls 
  • Your rights and the reporter’s rights
  • Developing and using key messages; using bridging techniques
  • The reporter’s agenda vs. your agenda
  • General instructions for print, TV and radio interviews
  • Using social media in crisis situations
  • General instructions (e.g., off the record)
  • Extreme crisis communications (e.g., communicating with stakeholders when there are severe threats to life & limb)

Bruce Hennes, Managing Partner, Hennes Communications, Cleveland, Ohio


Understanding Electricity Markets and Their Impact
1:30 – 5 p.m. (half day)
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.5, Specialized Knowledge and Applications

Learn the basic structure and characteristics of the bilateral wholesale power markets, including the trading process from planning and strategy to execution for power and transmission product types. Hear about Regional Transmission Organization markets (RTOs) and their impact on the bilateral markets. Learn how power is traded and scheduled in the physical markets operating within the various RTOs throughout the United States.

Topics include:

  • Current environment of bilateral electricity trading
  • Planning, strategy, and execution of bilateral trading process
  • Energy products and their market impacts
  • Key players  
  • Scheduling and transmission processes

Christine Farley, Director of Power Trading, The Energy Authority, Jacksonville, Florida


Working Solar Into Your Business Model
1:30 – 5 p.m.
(half day)
Recommended CEUs .3 / PDHs 3.25 / CPEs 3.5, Specialized Knowledge

As solar PV energy continues to be an ever increasing factor in the U.S. energy landscape, decisions you make now—including whether to fight and tax, adopt, or some middle-of-the-road strategy—will set the course of your competitive future with solar technology. Get the detailed information you need to make informed decisions for your unique operating environment. Learn about the opportunities and challenges of solar PV energy and how to implement solar PV energy in a low-risk and value-creation driven manner.

Topics include:

  • Understanding the solar industry’s business models and pain points
  • Do solar subsidies matter? Financing public power projects
  • Residential solar: Elon Musk and Solar City—enemy or to emulate?
  • Business and technology model tends and opportunities in DG solar
  • Winning business models for community solar, residential loan programs, PV+ battery storage, floating solar PV for municipal water authorities, and streetlight solar

Dave Buemi, Senior Vice President, Clean Energy Programs, and Lisa Vedder, Principal Consultant,Willdan Energy Service, Washington, D.C.; Charles Koontz, CEO, Charted Energy, Santa Cruz, California; and Matt Zahnder, Vice President, KeyBanc Capital Makerts, Seattle, Washington