Still time to register for Utility Energy Forum

May 13-15, 2015
Granlibakken Resort
Lake Tahoe, California

The 35th annual Utility Energy Forum  You are leaving WAPA.gov. (UEF) is only eight weeks away. If you have been putting off your registration, now is the time to sign up for three days of networking, learning, building bridges and finding inspiration in Lake Tahoe, California.

Even better, if you are a Western customer attending the event for the first time, there are still $100 scholarships available to offset the already-reasonable fee. Western encourages its customers to attend the forum because it offers so much to utility professionals who work with consumers.

“I am really excited by this year’s agenda,” said Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman, who is on the planning committee. “Utilities face a growing list of issues that have the potential to completely remake the way we do business. The forum offers a relaxed and informal space to look at these challenges from different angles and identify hidden opportunities to create stronger business models.”

Tackling tough questions
Take, for example, the top three topics up for discussion during the Pre-forum Workshop exclusively for utility and government representatives:

  • Community solar and potential impacts on utilities
  • Distributed generation, and using micro-grid technologies to replace utility infrastructure and improve reliability
  • Utility benefits from net metering and feed-in tariffs

Some attendees may be lying awake at night wondering what to do if a mandate or consumer demand pushes them into adoption before they can assess the impacts. Others have already had experience integrating these technologies and programs into their operations and are eager to share what they have learned. The Pre-conference Workshop gets both camps together to address concerns, learn from past missteps and brainstorm innovative solutions.

Once the conference gets rolling, experts across the industry will discuss potential carbon regulations, emerging technologies, workforce development and—most importantly—consumer programs. “Our industry is in transition,” noted Horstman. “Ultimately, it is going to be the consumer that drives most of the change that threatens to disrupt business as usual.”

Utility customers have higher expectations and are more educated about energy now, he added. “They still want reliable, affordable power, but they are concerned about the environmental costs,” explained Horstman. “New technologies are becoming more affordable and giving people more choices. The ratepayers of the future may be more like partners to power providers, rather than conventional customers.”

Meeting movers
What sets the Utility Energy Forum apart from most other conferences is more than just a packed roster of (admittedly excellent) speakers. More than anything, the forum is about the opportunity to engage with the people who are doing the real work of creating and launching utility programs.

Graham Parker of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory quizzes attendees on the finer points of efficiency program management. (Photo by Randy Martin)
Graham Parker of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory quizzes attendees on the finer points of efficiency program management. (Photo by Randy Martin)

Maybe you aren’t the type to speak up during the question-and-answer portion of a presentation, or maybe you thought of a crucial and pressing question half an hour later. Don’t worry, you can ask the speaker during the break or the next meal. That would also be a good time to buttonhole the attendee who mentioned a program during the “Utility Snapshots” session that sounds a lot like one you started at your utility.

If you are shopping around for new program and policy ideas to help you meet load management goals, consider giving “speed-dating” a try. The Utility Program Stand-up Challenge assembles a veritable smorgasbord of storyboards on successful utility-sponsored energy programs. In four lightening rounds, attendees get to question presenters about the program’s goals, successes and lessons. There will be time at the end to check out other presentations to see what you missed. Or you can get more details from presenters over a glass of port during the “Any Port in a Storm” reception later that evening.

Like a mini-presentation, the Utility Program Stand-up Challenge covers the highlights of a successful program or technology in just a few minutes. (Photo by Randy Martin)
Like a mini-presentation, the Utility Program Stand-up Challenge covers the highlights of a successful program or technology in just a few minutes. (Photo by Randy Martin)

Such a deal
Another thing that distinguishes the UEF from other events is what a great bargain it is. The registration fee covers not only the high-quality sessions and networking activities, but the lodging at Granlibakken Resort and all meals as well. The off-season rates make it tempting to extend your stay before or after the conference to enjoy springtime at Lake Tahoe.

Western can make the Utility Energy Forum an even better deal for first time attendees from utility customers. Contact Ron Horstman at 720-962-7419 to learn more about eligibility and to apply.