Engineering & Operations Conference and Trade Show

April 4–6, 2023 in Reno, Nev.

Alaska Airline discount: This year we are excited to partner with Alaska Airlines to offer a 7% discount code for your flight to Reno. Please contact Connie at (360) 254-0109 or to get the code. 

Download the conference program here

Make the most of your E&O experience and register for the Environmental Task Force Meeting taking place ahead of the E&O on April 3 at the Silver Legacy Resort in Reno. ETF meetings bring together those tasked with or interested in environmental issues, regulatory compliance, or mitigation in the environmental arena of electric utilities. This meeting will focus on key regulations, new technologies and services, and solutions for issues facing your organization. Register here to secure your place at this meeting.

Keynote Speaker

Jake Wood, Team Rubicon

Jake Wood, an entrepreneur and former Marine, embodies the idea of the next frontier. In 2010, Wood organized a team of veterans and co-founded the global nonprofit Team Rubicon, the fastest-growing disaster response organization in the world. He is also the founder and CEO of Groundswell, a startup launched in 2021 that builds bridges between companies and nonprofits.

Wood writes and speaks frequently on topics of leadership, organizational culture, and social issues. He is a sought-after media voice and has appeared on every major network and cable news program. During his keynote April 4, Wood will take us on a compelling exploration of leadership and organizational culture.

Wood lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters. He and his wife love to travel and have stamped their passports in over 60 countries.


Nick Morrison, Cowboy Comedian

Nick Morrison brings humor through his experiences in marriage and fatherhood, through the perspective of someone with a serious brain injury due to dozens of concussions, and through his background as a cowboy and former professional bull rider whose career ended due to injury at only 21 years old. After over 15 years experience as a public speaker, he now travels the country bringing laughter as a stand-up comedian.


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Monday, April 11 (Pre-Conference Events)

8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Environmental Task Force Meeting*

The Environmental Task Force meets three times each year to examine environmental issues; solutions and best practices; and the impact of current and proposed environmental regulations on electric utilities. The ETF is an advocate and educator to utilities, associate members, and government agencies to help interpret and develop the most effective ways to address environmental compliance, resource issues, and the provision of related services.

We encourage you to attend this meeting as it provides solution-focused information and networking opportunities with utility, industry, and government environmental professionals.  

*The meeting is open to all, however, a separate fee may be required.

10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Exhibit booth setup

10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Registration open (exhibitors and attendees)

Tuesday, April 12

8 a.m.–noon

Exhibit booth setup

8 a.m.–6 p.m.

Registration open (exhibitors and attendees)

8–11 a.m.

Industry roundtables (Engineering, Lineworker, and Supply Chain)

11 a.m.–12:50 p.m.

Lunch (on your own)

1–3:15 p.m.

General session

Keynote speaker: Johnny “Joey” Jones

Johnny “Joey” Jones currently serves as a FOX News Channel contributor and guest host. He also hosts several programs on FOX Nation as well as the Proud American podcast at FOX News Podcasts. He joined as a contributor in 2019.

Jones served eight years in the United States Marine Corps and is a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. He was injured in Afghanistan in 2010 resulting in many serious injuries, including the loss of both legs above the knee. After recovering at Walter Reed Military Medical Center, Jones attended Georgetown University.

He spent most of the time since his recovery working in military nonprofit leadership. Jones was the chief operating officer of Boot Campaign, a Texas-based nonprofit focused on patriotism and wellness. He continues his work as an active voice in veterans’ issues and works with many congressional and military leaders and political campaigns.

From growing up working with his father, a brick mason, and then being one of the youngest bomb technicians in the United States Marine Corps, to working on Capitol Hill and now presenting ideas and opinions to millions on television, Jones uses his life experiences and his opportunities to overcome adversity to help others see the power they inherently possess to navigate life, work, and people with success.

3:30–6:30 p.m.

Grand opening of the exhibits

4–6 p.m.

Reception in the exhibit hall

Wednesday, April 13

7:30–8:30 a.m.

Technology Showcase (with continental breakfast)

7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Registration open (exhibitors and attendees)

8:40–9:50 a.m.

CEO and GM panel discussion

Panelists: Jasen Bronec, CEO, Inland Power and Light Company; Mark Stallons, CEO, Valley Electric Association; Tony Schacher, General Manager, Salem Electric; Jason Norlen, General Manager, Heber Light & Power; and Libby Calnon, General Manager, Hood River Electric & Internet Co-op.

10–10:50 a.m.

Concurrent Sessions #1

Wood Utility Poles 101

Kyle Cassidy, Director of Quality Assurance and Technical Services, Stella-Jones Corp.

Learn the basics about the manufacturing of wood utility poles, including wood species options, preservative options, manufacturing, optional enhancements, quality considerations, and innovations. This session will highlight advantages and limitations of using this natural resource, as well as new developments in the industry.

Snohomish County PUD: The Arlington Microgrid

Scott Gibson, Energy Storage Program Manager, Snohomish County PUD 

Snohomish County PUD’s Arlington Microgrid provides additional grid resiliency and the ability for greater renewable energy integration. Scott Gibson will discuss the journey and lessons learned while building the microgrid. The Arlington Microgrid will incorporate clean energy technology utilizing solar, battery storage, and electric vehicles to provide energy integration and disaster recovery. The PUD will study the benefits of electric vehicle charging through the vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology and analyze the output of vehicle batteries to add resiliency to the microgrid and overall grid.

Is Range Anxiety Real? The New Era of Fleet Electrification

Jeff Carter, Fleet Services Manager, Clark Public Utilities

Utilities across the country continue to move toward fleet electrification. Facing many challenges along the way, fleet managers continue to adapt. This session will discuss this new era of electrification from implementation, regulations, maintenance, employee pushback, and yes, even range anxiety. Attendees will hear about overcoming difficulties that apply specifically to public utility fleets.

11 a.m.–1:50 p.m.

Exhibits open

11:30 a.m.–1:15 p.m.

Lunch in exhibit area

2–2:50 p.m.

Concurrent sessions #2

Working Smarter Not Harder: Using Drones to Streamline Utility Operations

Jeffery Carlson, Safety, Compliance & Loss Control Specialist, Consumers Power

Drone-derived data can save utilities time and money. At Consumers Power, personnel are integrating lidar, photography, and machine learning to streamline operations. With the help of drones, activities like tree trimming, facility inspections, and fire damage assessments are all being performed with greater efficiency. Drone data allows Consumers Power to work faster, save fuel, and reduce wear on vehicles. This session covers how to work smarter, not harder, with drone technology.

That Can’t Happen to Me: Ouch! That Hurt! 

Jerry Lemm, Safety and Loss Control Instructor, Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association

In our ever-moving society, the need for situational awareness is a constant. Where complacency and other distractions are constantly changing our focus, we should never lose track of where we are, what could happen, and how we might react. This session will discuss a variety of conditions that people face constantly, and various techniques we might apply to stay not only focused on the task at hand, but to be prepared for sudden changes to our status quo.

How the Northwest Connects

Chris Walker, Senior Executive Director, Infrastructure Strategy, NoaNet 

Washington state has been the thought leader in rural telecommunications for over 20 years. Listen in as Chris Walker tells the story of how a public consortium tackled the digital divide in The Evergreen State to bring high-speed broadband services and next-generation public safety to rural communities.

3–3:50 p.m.

Concurrent sessions #3

Distribution Protection Engineering: Practical Consideration for Reducing Wildfire Risk

Brent Carper, Principal Engineer, 3AC Engineering

New technologies are available to address wildfire risk, but these can be challenging and expensive to implement. Utilities may instead find that their existing system protection practices can be improved at minimal cost and effort using tools and information they already have. This session will cover how updating fundamental practices for fuse sizing, reclosing, and coordination can improve sensitivity and fault clearing time for a real reduction in risk.

Thriving Renewables in the Kodiak Wilderness 

Darron Scott, President/CEO, Kodiak Electric Association

Kodiak Electric Association has basically become a 100% renewable energy system. This mainly comes from wind, hydro, batteries, and a 2-MW flywheel system. KEA’s process to become less dependent on diesel generation began in 2005. With strong support from the co-op’s board members and the community, Kodiak Electric sought a goal of creating 95% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Attend this session to learn more about how this was accomplished.

Surviving Cascadia: Substation Upgrades

Brian Knight, P.E., SE, Principal, WRK Engineers; and Ryan Brown, Clark Public Utilities

If your utility is in Cascadia, it’s not a matter of if, but when, the next big earthquake will strike. Learn about some relatively straightforward substation improvements that can be made to safeguard your infrastructure from seismic activity. Seismic engineer Brian Knight and utility engineer Ryan Brown will discuss anchoring equipment, adding flexible jumpers, and stocking spares during this session.

4–4:50 p.m.

Concurrent sessions #4

Managing Existing Utility Risk with Subsurface Utility Engineering

Matt Tomanek, Regional Manager, T2 Utility Engineers

ASCE/CI Standard 38—Standard Guidelines for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data—has been successfully implemented during early design to manage risk, maintain schedules, minimize change orders, and safely complete a wide variety of construction projects for 20 years. In this session, Matt Tomanek will explain the subsurface utility engineering process defined by the standard, summarize the benefits, detail implementation, and provide sample results and deliverables. 

3D Substation Design Best Practices

Curtis Stamey, Designer, Kootenai Electric Cooperative; and Joe Cote, Engineering Technology Manager, POWER Engineers

In this session, Curtis Stamey and Joe Cote will illustrate the advantages of using software tools to develop intelligent 3D models for substation designs. Specific use cases will be shown to explain how the models gain efficiencies and minimize potential problems. They will also showcase capabilities to improve interaction with contractors and use models as digital framing environments.

Forging Through: COVID Impacts on the Supply Chain

Steve Mills, President & Technical Sales, Cascadia McLaren Inc. 

COVID-19 has had various impacts on our industry’s supply chain and underlined the need for utilities to prepare for the unexpected. This session will cover topics such as material lead-time impacts, price volatility, work force availability, and other market trends. It will also highlight shipping logistics, inventory management, and availability. Utility professionals will learn best practices for planning and forecasting that will help them strategize and forge forward during these unpredictable times.

5–6:30 p.m.

Exhibits open

5–6 p.m.

Reception in exhibit hall

Thursday, April 14

7:30–8:30 a.m.

Utility personnel breakfast

8 a.m.–4 p.m.

Registration open (exhibitors and attendees)

8:45–10 a.m.

General session

Wildfire Panel: Managing the Crisis and the Aftermath

J.B. Brock, Owner, Integrated Emergency Response Solutions; and Paul Kimmell, Business & Public Affairs Manager, Avista Utilities

Mitigating the threat of wildfires continues to be a top priority for utilities in the western service territories. During an emergency is a very poor time to undertake emergency planning, but utilities are often caught off-guard. In this session, J.B. Brock, owner of Integrated Emergency Response Solutions, will discuss his pragmatic approach to emergency management through relationship building, planning, training, and exercising prior to an event. Once the flames subside, infrastructures are devastated and surrounding communities are permanently scarred. Rebuilding in the wake of these destructive fires is rarely discussed. Paul Kimmell will share Avista Utilities’ experiences navigating the aftermath of a large-scale wildfire on their system and the complex issues associated with rebuilding communities.

10:10–11 a.m.

Concurrent sessions #5

The Night the Lights Went Out in Texas

Curtis Trivitt, Senior Project Manager, POWER Engineers

In February 2021, Texas experienced record low temperatures and a severe winter storm. Unprecedented electricity demand and generation outages within the ERCOT grid resulted in near grid collapse and firm load shed that affected almost 70% of electric customers over the course of four days. Curtis Trivitt will provide a summary of the grid challenges during the grid emergency, root causes, corrective actions identified, and legislation passed in response.

Uh-Oh, Is That My Oil Spill? How to Survive an Oil Spill

Amanda Froberg, Environmental Compliance Manager, Cowlitz County PUD

Oil spills are never good, but if one happens, it is important to take steps to mitigate the damage. Learn what to do and what not to do based on a case study of one utility’s $250K oil spill cleanup. Discussion topics include updated notification procedures, transformer processing, response techniques to fresh and older spills, and seeing it all through to completion.

Cybersecurity in the Electric Utility World

Michael Cole, Principal OT Cybersecurity Engineer, Cybersecurity

While at work, you just got an email notifying you that you won a year of free Chipotle. Or was it Starbucks? Or was it an email saying that you just inherited 40 million dollars from a long-lost cousin who is royalty in a far-off land? Sorry to break it to you, but you are being targeted, also known as phished, and as an employee of an electric utility, you play a big part in keeping our systems safe. Learn about what SMUD is doing to combat these schemes and how educating employees about working smarter online pays big dividends!

11:10 a.m.–12:50 p.m.

Exhibits open

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Lunch in exhibit area

1–1:50 p.m.

Concurrent sessions #6

Spokane ECO-District: Integrating Distribution with the Built Environment

Mike Diedesch, P.E., Grid Innovation Lab Manager, Avista Utilities

Spokane, Washington’s South Landing Eco-District development has become a model for sustainable buildings and is reinventing the relationship between the utility and the building owner. The eco-district—named Sustainable Development of the Year by NAIOP Washington State—deploys a central energy plant to provide services to net-zero and carbon-free developments, as well as optimize the use of utility infrastructure. This session will review the economic and engineered systems involved in the eco-district.

Environmental Obstacles for Warehouse Storage and Disposal

Steve Grose, Director of Facility Operations, Clean Harbors

This session will focus on storage compliance issues; avoidable pitfalls and obstacles for warehouse operations; and best practices for warehouse management.

Renewable Hydrogen Production

Gary Ivory, General Manager, Douglas County PUD; and Len Anderson, Senior Distribution Systems Engineer, Douglas County PUD

Utilities are increasingly looking for ways to reduce emissions, and at Douglas PUD, that comes in the form of green hydrogen. Gary Ivory and Len Anderson will discuss the ongoing construction of a hydrogen production facility that will generate green hydrogen with energy from their Wells Hydroelectric Project. The project will utilize electrolyzers with proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology to generate around 2 tons of green hydrogen per day. This project will help improve generation, maintenance, and reserve capacity efficiencies. The facility will be constructed in phases to determine the market demand for hydrogen locally.

2–2:50 p.m.

Concurrent sessions #7

Grid Down, Power Up! Starting Generators after a Grid Collapse

Ben Jenkins, Systems Engineer, Idaho Falls Power

Learn about the proof-of-concept test performed on Idaho Falls Power’s run-of-the-river hydropower plants. Ben Jenkins will summarize the technological, operational, and control methods of stability improvements that were tested and evaluated.

How Not to Become YouTube Famous

Ryan Hall, Communications Director, Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association 

Learn how not to become a viral video—in a bad way at least—in an increasingly digital world, where everyone has a cellphone with a video camera in their pocket. MECA’s Ryan Hall will teach you how to keep office employees and lineworkers from becoming stars of the types of videos we all laugh at.

AMI 2.0 Deployment Considerations

Edward Kobeszka, Business Development Director, POWER Engineers

This session will review the technologies that currently make up AMI, advanced distribution management, the deployment of distributed energy resources, and where the grid is headed with active grid management. Edward Kobeszka will describe where the utility industry has been, from the typical one-way model to where North American Electric Reliability Corporation has envisioned the grid in a two-way model. The session is geared for the electric utility and is an overview of the industry.

3–4 p.m.

Concurrent sessions #8

Don’t Trust Your Customers (Backfeed)

Brady Hansen, Lineman, Written in Red Training

We may think we have grounded and tagged out a line properly, only to find one of our customers has a backup power generator improperly connected. Hear about a recent incident in our region where a lineworker had a close call with a customer’s improperly connected generator, and what we can do to protect ourselves when this happens.

Making It Precipitate: The Science of Weather Modification

Richard Stone, President, RHS Consulting 

The practice of cloud seeding began in the late 1940s when scientists discovered that raindrops form around microscopic particles in the atmosphere and that injecting particles into clouds can initiate precipitation. Today, many water and power agencies conduct cloud seeding programs to trigger additional rain and snow to enhance water supply and power generation. Learn about the concept of cloud seeding and the advances in cloud seeding materials, instruments, techniques, and models used to monitor and predict weather conditions.

Broadband Startup 15 Years Later: A Success Story

Keith Brooks, General Manager, Douglas Electric Cooperative

Twenty years ago, Douglas Electric Cooperative started a broadband company to address a lack of adequate internet access in their community. This presentation will focus on Douglas Fiber Net’s explosive success, the benefits of offering broadband to your members, as well as the pitfalls and challenges DEC faced when starting the broadband company.

5:30–6:30 p.m.

Chairman’s reception

6:30–9 p.m.

Banquet, awards, and entertainment

Friday, April 15

7:30–9 a.m.

Committee review breakfast

COVID-19 Measures

As we continue to monitor and evaluate COVID-19 levels, we understand that the health and safety of our members, staff, and the community are of highest concern. We are asking everyone to do their part. Current measures in place, subject to change as conditions demand:

  • NWPPA and local venues will follow applicable federal, state, and local health protocols.
  • There will be social-distancing space arrangements in this large facility, with some portions flowing to outside spaces as well.
  • There will be hand-sanitizing stations located throughout the facility.
  • We are asking all attendees to evaluate their own health and that of anyone with whom they are in close contact within 14 days of the event, and to contact us if they have any concern.
  • Anyone who has been exposed or is showing symptoms ahead of the event should not attend and will automatically receive a full refund of their registration fee.
  • Anyone experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms during the event must immediately self-quarantine and notify NWPPA staff.

Assumption of Risk: COVID-19 has been declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization. It is not possible for NWPPA or anyone else to completely prevent the presence of the disease. Therefore, if you choose to attend a conference organized by NWPPA and voluntarily enter onto premises where its conference is held, you are accepting the risk, without right of claim against NWPPA and its directors, employees, or agents, of being exposed to, contracting, and/or spreading COVID-19 and its variants.

Please be aware that the State of Washington requires 1) masks be worn at public indoor events and 2) attendees at indoor events with 1,000 or more individuals bring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event. The Engineering & Operations Conference often surpasses 1,000 attendees, so at this time we expect both requirements to apply.

Acceptable vaccination documents are: 

  • Photo of vaccination card
  • Vaccination card
  • Record from a healthcare provider
  • Record from or other vaccination app

Acceptable negative test results (print or digital) can be an original, copy, or photo from a test provider or laboratory showing the type of test performed (molecular or antigen), the negative result, and the date (within 72 hours preceding attendance). 

For more information, please see the Proclamation 21-16 here. If you have any questions, please contact us at (360) 254-0109.