Best Practices in Public Participation for Transmission Projects

Transmission infrastructure projects are often characterized by high perceived risk and low stakeholder trust.  A balance must be struck between the need for additional transmission development and landowner priorities, environmental impact considerations and regulatory compliance.

A comprehensive strategic public participation process is a key tenet to the success of any transmission project.  All stakeholders must be engaged throughout the process, using a wide variety of communication and engagement techniques that are tailored to the needs of each stakeholder.  But how do you tackle this daunting challenge?

As an attendee of this EUCI conference, you’ll hear best practice case studies from leading electric transmission professionals.  You’ll learn the strategies and methods they use to positively engage stakeholders and overcome project obstacles.  You’ll leave this conference with practical tools and techniques that can be immediately implemented within your own organization to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your public participation program.

Learning Outcomes

  • Determine the right amount and mix of outreach for each stakeholder of each project
  • Examine the key components necessary to successfully address project opposition
  • Utilize online participation as a tool to enhance public engagement
  • Discuss how to give stakeholders genuine opportunities to be engaged from project design and permitting to actual construction
  • Identify how to educate and engage stakeholders with best practice Open Houses
  • Interpret BLM permitting for more efficient processing of major infrastructure projects
  • Apply good visual design to fundamentally shape how the public understands and interacts with your project
  • Examine how to put data around experiential instincts in order to enhance your communications program
  • Compare best practice case studies on successful public participation programs

Requirements for Successful Completion of Program

Participants must sign in/out each day and be in attendance for the entirety of the course to be eligible for continuing education credit.

Instructional Methods

Case studies, PowerPoint presentations and group discussion will be used in this event.



EUCI is accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and offers IACET CEUs for its learning events that comply with the ANSI/IACET Continuing Education and Training Standard. IACET is recognized internationally as a standard development organization and accrediting body that promotes quality of continuing education and training.

EUCI is authorized by IACET to offer 1.0 CEUs for the conference and 0.4 CEUs for the workshop.


Monday, January 30, 2017

8:00 – 8:30 a.m. :: Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 – 8:45 a.m. :: Conference Welcome

8:45 – 9:45 a.m. :: Managing Project Challenges, Expectations and Opposition

Public participation in the project licensing process allows multiple opportunities for regulators and stakeholders to modify and approve the route and timing of a project.  Comprehensive environmental and permit reviews can yield hundreds of meetings and hearings.  Inevitably, the community and/or utility will have to make changes to the project and determine how they will respond to local impacts.  Emotional challenges to a project cause project sponsors to respond with facts, but those facts are often drowned out if the sides are unwilling to compromise.

Here in Southern California, a 3-mile segment of Segment 8 of the Tehachapi Renewables Transmission Project (TRTP) was required to be constructed underground after community opposition.  This small segment generated much publicity and will now be the nation’s first underground 500kV electrical transmission line.  A community opposition group managed to change this segment from overhead to underground construction – a win for the community, but a huge increase in cost for ratepayers.

In this session, we will take an in-depth look at:

  • The TRTP Project
  • The existing right of way and alternate route issues
  • Underground T/L technology
  • Project opposition and claims
  • How to respond to exaggerated or false claims
  • Managing social risk

David Guder, Manager, Real Properties Title & Valuation, Southern California Edison Co.

9:45 – 10:15 a.m. :: Networking Break

10:15 – 11:15 a.m. :: Organizing Successful Public Open Houses to Engage Stakeholders

Over the past decade there has been an increased public awareness surrounding electric transmission projects.  As a result, client companies and service providers are coming together to work with the stakeholders to inform and educate them as well as to engage them with various representatives.  In this presentation, you will learn about best practices in holding Open Houses.  From the electric company to all of the various service providers, you will see how these groups work together to plan a successful event and keep these stakeholders informed.  Attendees will learn about stakeholder identification and venue selection, as well as some pointers on considering layout and agenda.

Amanda Sloan, Director, Electric Transmission, Contract Land Staff, LLC

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. :: An Inside Look: The Strategic Public Participation Process for the Rush Creek Transmission Project

Xcel Energy is proposing to construct, operate, and maintain 600 MW of wind energy generation facilities and a 90-mile 345kV transmission line in Eastern Colorado, an area outside Xcel’s traditional service territory. The Project is part of Xcel’s comprehensive Colorado strategy for “Our Energy Future,” which includes one gigawatt of new renewable energy added to Xcel’s portfolio.  The Project required extensive internal and external coordination and communication, including the public participation process for the routing and siting of a new 345kV transmission line corridor, two switching stations and a new substation, and connection to Xcel’s grid at an existing substation.  In this session, you will learn about the strategies, tools, and techniques used to engage the public, agencies, and local government through the public participation process as well as the community outreach for the project.

Erin Degutis, Senior Agent, Siting & Land Rights, Xcel Energy

12:00 – 1:00 p.m. :: Group Luncheon

1:00 – 1:45 p.m. :: Effectively Addressing Public Opposition to Electric Transmission Projects
  • Public Engagement
    • Public communication
      • The need for the project
      • Talk to supporters
      • Talk to the stakeholders
        • Civic leaders and officials
        • Landowners and residents
    • Open houses
    • Online presence
  • Public Consultation
    • Understand the opposition
  • Public Participation
    • Negotiate and concentrate on mutual interests
  • Resolution through Routing
    • Route study
    • Strategic options
    • Third party interests

Arlee Jones, Project Manager II, Tampa Electric Co.

1:45 – 2:30 p.m. :: Best Practices for Public Affairs Outreach During Approval and Construction of Projects

In this session, you will learn how San Diego Gas & Electric utilizes best practices and lessons learned from previous projects to engage stakeholders to gain support of major project development of electric and natural gas projects throughout the SDG&E service territory. SDG&E dedicates a public affairs manager as part of the major projects team to ensure open communication and continuity between departments and projects.  The discussion will include topics meant to provoke two-way dialogue in finding the right amount of outreach for each project, including:

  • Doing business in California
  • Building trust – both internally and externally
  • When is the appropriate time to begin outreach and how much?
  • Developing project-specific communications & outreach plans
  • Staying flexible
  • Third party coalitions

Todd Voorhees, Regional Public Affairs Manager, San Diego Gas & Electric

2:30 – 3:00 p.m. :: Networking Break

3:00 – 4:00 p.m. :: It’s Geek to Me: Using Visual Design to Break Down the Technical Language Barrier

The engineers, scientists, and planners who drive your projects are the smartest people you know. Their work is carefully planned, meticulously detailed, and irrefutably accurate.

Unfortunately, no one can understand it.  Let visual design translate their geek speak into compelling, public-friendly materials that allow everyone to engage with your project. Take a visual journey through a world where beauty meets brains to learn how good design can do more than just make things pretty – it can fundamentally shape how the public understands and interacts with your project.

Kelly Spitzley, Web + Graphic Design, HDR Inc.

Christina Rolfes, Graphic & Web Designer/Environmental Scientist, HDR Inc.

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. :: CEQA Compliance and Public Outreach for the South Fork Project

Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) staff will discuss some of the outreach and communication strategies used when working on the South Fork Project along the Upper American River.  The complexities associated with the multiple agencies and stakeholders associated with the project will be addressed in detail.  This presentation will discuss issues associated with siting, scheduling, permitting, planning, and the public outreach and coordination required to complete the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process outreach given the timing and funding constraints of the project.

Jose Bodipo-Memba, Environmental Management Supervisor, SMUD



5:00 – 6:00 p.m. :: Networking Reception Sponsored by HDR

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

8:00 – 8:30 a.m. :: Continental Breakfast

8:30 – 9:30 a.m. :: Understanding the Changing Landscapes in BLM Permitting

In this presentation, you will learn about the changing landscape in BLM permitting.  We will focus on the following issues:

  • BLM Major Transmission line NEPA Process Instruction Memorandum
  • The place of pre-application meetings in setting the foundation for more efficient processing of major infrastructure projects
  • BLM’s mitigation policy – efficiently moving through the process
  • The FAST Act and BLM’s place with regard to major infrastructure projects
  • Perspectives on Master agreements and their ability to facilitate efficiencies in the BLM permitting process
  • Status of the Section 368 Energy Corridors Regional reviews

Stephen Fusilier, Branch Chief, Rights-of-Way, Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

9:30 – 10:00 a.m. Networking Break

10:00 – 11:00 a.m. :: Building Partnerships, Building our Energy Future

Whether the construction is for 500kV transmission facilities or 69kV substations, building real partnerships with stakeholders is critical to your project success. Community advocates seeking to protect their views and perceived property values can literally kill a project.  Giving stakeholders genuine opportunities to be engaged can help make the overall effort smoother – from design & permitting to actual construction. One example is a substation built to resemble a nearby condominium complex. In this session you will learn how simple modifications can deliver huge dividends and create an improved outcome for all.

Kendra Lee, Community Franchise and Outreach Consultant, Arizona Public Service

11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. :: Are Instincts Enough? How to Use Research to Your Communications Advantage

In an ever increasingly challenging environment, Dominion Virginia Power wanted to better understand the changing landscape in which transmission projects are presented to its stakeholders. This research initiative sought to uncover the attitudes stakeholders hold toward how infrastructure projects are planned, communicated and executed and thereby impact their lives. By understanding this environment, the underlying perceptions of electric transmission issues will be unpacked – in an issues management structure and not in a corporate responsibility research paradigm (which changes the research focus and can muddle potential insights). In short, Dominion Virginia Power wanted to put data around experiential instincts in order to enhance its communications program.

This presentation will detail how:

  • The initiative was structured
  • The initiative was successfully marketed internally for buy-in
  • Quantitative research and “qualitative” research, in the form of storytelling workshops, were brought together to gain insights that enhance project and communications planning

Greg Mathe, Manager, Electric Transmission Communications, Dominion Virginia Power/Dominion North Carolina Power

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. :: Conference Wrap up

12:00 p.m. :: Conference Adjourns


Jose Bodipo-Memba, Environmental Management Supervisor, SMUD

Erin Degutis, Senior Agent, Siting & Land Rights, Xcel Energy

Stephen Fusilier, Branch Chief, Rights-of-Way, Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

David Guder, Manager, Real Properties Title & Valuation, Southern California Edison Co.

Arlee Jones, Project Manager II, Tampa Electric Co.

Kendra Lee, Community Franchise and Outreach Consultant, Arizona Public Service

Greg Mathe, Manager, Electric Transmission Communications, Dominion Virginia Power/Dominion North Carolina Power

Christina Rolfes, Graphic & Web Designer/Environmental Scientist, HDR Inc.

Amanda Sloan, Director, Electric Transmission, Contract Land Staff, LLC

Kelly Spitzley, Web + Graphic Design, HDR Inc.

Todd Voorhees, Regional Public Affairs Manager, San Diego Gas & Electric


Post-Conference Workshop

Stakeholder Outreach:  Myths, Facts & Best Practices

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


This workshop will explore the specifics of how to develop and maintain positive landowner relationships while negotiating in good faith for pipeline, electric transmission, wind and solar, rail and public sector projects. This would include whether pursuing site leasing, site purchase, easements, right of ways and/or workspace, and whether coming from the perspective of project management, design engineering, environmental, appraising, permitting, survey, right of way, inspections, construction, operations, and others, this presentation is a must in helping ensure a successful project, on time and on budget with happy landowners.

Join this interactive workshop to learn about good faith negotiations and landowner relationships. Due to the increase in activity in the energy industry, it has become progressively more important for all professionals to be highly sensitive to landowners and any and all stakeholders’ needs, concerns and issues. Whether they are legal, environmental, aesthetic, social or cultural issues, the relationships we establish will set the tone of the project and can make the experience pleasant for the landowners, developers, engineers and all other consultants. These common sense approaches and processes are based on the psychology of healthy human relationships, and will have major impact as to whether or not your project will be a success.

Learning Outcomes / Agenda

12:30 – 1:00 p.m. Registration

1:00 – 5:00 p.m. Workshop Timing

  • Recognize and understand landowner’s perspectives and the importance of dealing with unique differences in various landowners, their personalities and their needs/concerns
  • Develop strategies for establishing a positive message and the various ways it must be communicated
  • Identify best practices for stakeholder outreach
  • Dispel myths often mistakenly believed and then utilized to support unsuccessful practices
  • Define successful protocols for outreach strategies
  • Explore FERC’s concern and INGAA’s commitment regarding landowner/stakeholder relationships, now a standard for the entire right of way industry, whether electric, alternative or pipeline


Beth Minear, Esq., Vice President and Project Management Strategist, Contract Land Staff

Serving as Contract Land Staff’s (CLS) Project Management Strategist and FERC resident expert, Beth works out of the CLS Northeast Regional Office in Ripley, West Virginia. Her responsibilities include assisting clients in pre-planning of stakeholder outreach and messaging, ROW title and acquisition cost estimates and route feasibility. Prior to joining CLS, Beth served as Senior Counsel for NiSource Inc., a diverse Fortune 500 energy company, in the Commercial/ Real Estate Department. Throughout her tenure at NiSource, she represented its electric, natural gas and microwave tower > subsidiaries in real estate and commercial strategies, negotiations and acquisitions. The bulk of her practice was focused on multistate capital growth projects, as well as modernization and operations/maintenance projects. Including the years prior to NiSource, Beth’s practice throughout her career has included capital infrastructure improvement projects including public financing for local and state projects (i.e. water and sewer), coal rights, timbering agreements and private development of large commercial complexes and resorts. In addition, she has experience in real property representation and litigation in state and federal courts including both prosecution and defense of Eminent Domain matters.

Beth earned her J.D. at Capital University Law School and was accepted into the Summer Law program at St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford, in 1997. Beth is a member of both the Pennsylvania Bar and the West Virginia Bar, serving on the ADR Committee for the WV State Bar.  She has also been elected to the Board of Trustees as Trustee at Large, for the Energy & Mineral Law Foundation, where she remains active on the Membership Committee. Beth founded the Legal Roundtable for Southern Gas Association, where she served as Chair for its inaugural two years, and has served on the Roundtable Committee for the past two years. Beth is a frequent speaker at seminars and conferences within the energy industry as well as having written articles about various issues confronting the industry.  Finally, Beth is a member of IRWA Chapter 21, supporting education and advancement efforts thereof.

Phil Pack, Chief Projects Officer, Contract Land Staff

Phil has over 30 years of experience in transmission generation in all phases of projects including public involvement, routing, permitting, land acquisition, engineering, procurement and construction. He oversees all electric transmission and distribution projects, and focuses on enhancing communication, education and management of client expectations.

Prior to joining CLS, Phil was with Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) for over 30 years. Phil’s experience includes assignments in all aspects of Transmission Projects including the Major Projects, Outage Management, Technical, Engineering and Operations Departments. He joined NIPSCO as an engineer in 1981.   Pack earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Western Michigan University. He also completed the Executive Development Program at Indiana University Kelly School of Business and the Leadership NiSource program.  He also is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Indiana.


Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina
1441 Quivira Road
San Diego, CA 92109

To reserve your room, please call 1-619-224-1234
Please indicate that you are with the EUCI group to receive the group rate.


The room rate is $189.00


A room block has been reserved for the nights of January 30-31, 2017.


Make your reservations prior to January 6, 2017. There are a limited number of rooms available at the conference rate. Please make your reservations early.


Event Standard RateAttendees
Proceedings package US $ 395.00


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