Serving the energy industry for over 30 years
By - Jon Brown

2021 Utility Outage Communications Conference
January 26-27, 2021 | Online :: Central Time

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The coronavirus outbreak has caused far-reaching concern and economic hardship for consumers, businesses, and communities across the globe. During a global pandemic, utilities need to focus on new ways to improve customer engagement and be more diligent than ever when it comes to communications during outages. Customers focus on two concerns during an outage: how long until power returns? and how will it impact my life? The customer channels necessary to realize an appropriate outage communication response and improved customer engagement have increased dramatically. In today’s advanced world, the most reliable line of communication to the public during an outage is their mobile phone.

During an outage, the utility’s goal is to keep all stakeholders informed so they can react accordingly and provide quality feedback. At EUCI’s 10th Outage Communications conference, utility and industry professionals will share their best practices in dealing with outages and how their organizations continue to transform the communications landscape. This online conference brings together utility and industry experts who must interact with customers during these incredibly difficult times.

Learning Outcomes

This conference will provide attendees an opportunity to:

  • Discuss how to bring timely communications to your customers by implementing a successful social media plan
  • Explore how to reinvent the customer experience during an outage
  • Discuss how the use of technology can better communicated the outage process
  • Identify lessons learned from case studies of storm communications to improve day-to-day communications
  • Explore new ways to build goodwill and brand reputation
  • Recognize how to establish open lines of communication throughout the organization
  • Demonstrate how be proactive with notifications to improve customer engagement



EUCI has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).  In obtaining this accreditation, EUCI has demonstrated that it  complies with the ANSI/IACET Standard which is recognized internationally as a standard of good practice. As a result of their Authorized Provider status, EUCI is authorized to offer IACET CEUs for its programs that qualify under the ANSI/IACET Standard.

EUCI is authorized by IACET to offer 0.8 CEUs for this conference and 0.4 CEUs for the workshop.


Requirements for Successful Completion of Program

Participants must log in and be in attendance for the entirety of the course to be eligible for continuing education credit.

Instructional Methods

Case Studies, Panel Discussions and PowerPoint presentations will be used in the program.

Who Should Attend

Individuals working in the following areas will benefit from attending this event:

  • Customer service
  • Internet services
  • E-business services
  • Social media
  • Web risk-management
  • Contact center management
  • Corporate communications
  • Web designers, interactive group
  • Business planning and information systems

Strategic planning and performance management


Tuesday, January 26, 2021 : Central Time

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. :: Log In and Welcome

9:00 – 9:15 a.m. :: Opening Remarks

9:15 – 10:00 a.m. :: Using Social Media to Improve Outage Communications

Whether it is a blue-sky day, a storm or a world-wide crisis like this pandemic, the ComEd Social Media Team is committed to providing proactive, transparent, accurate and up-to-date information as quickly as possible to our customers. In this session, learn about how ComEd is breaking the mold of a traditional utility social media team to bring timely communications to its customers during severe weather events in the middle of a pandemic. Conference attendees will discover what goes into a successful social media communication plan at ComEd, including strategy and planning, messaging & creative, sentiment measurement and analytics all during a pandemic.

Kimberly A. Smith, Director, Customer Experience & Technology, Customer Operations, ComEd

10:00 – 10:05 a.m. :: Break

10:05 – 10:50 a.m. :: Reinventing the Customer Experience During Outages

In November 2019, a violent windstorm swept through the Province of Québec, leaving nearly a million homes across the province without power for days. This was the biggest service interruption for Hydro Quebec since a major ice storm in 1998. In this session, learn how the company moved quickly to restore power to customers while providing them with timely updates. As a result of Hydro-Quebec’s handling of this massive outage, they were awarded third place for Chartwell’s Outage Communications Awards in 2020.  Hydro Quebec’s efforts to improve the outage communications process with enhanced communications demonstrated the value of investing in process improvement initiatives.

Martine Chartrand, Director of Customer Experience and Operational Development, Hydro-Quebec

10:50 – 11:00 a.m. :: Break

11:00 – 11:45 a.m. :: Improving Outages and More Through Voice Enabled Devices

AEP is among the first electric companies in the United States to give customers the opportunity to get outage status information, view their account balance, pay their bill and check their energy usage through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice enabled devices. In this case study, you will hear how AEP researched customer goals and behaviors, focused on a prioritized set of features, crafted two-way conversations, launched this new channel to its customers and see a demo of AEP’s mobile app. Attendees will learn how AEP’s redesigned web site will better communicate the outage status.

Eric Davis, Digital & User Experience Manager, American Electric Power (AEP)

11:45 – 11:50 a.m. :: Break

11:50 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. :: Bulletproof Your Brand with a Crisis Communications Team

At Hydro Ottawa, preparations for outage communications begin long before the threat of a storm. In an era of rapid communications and readily available content, the utility continuously refines its strategy to provide customers with relevant and timely information. In this presentation, learn the importance of having a good crisis communication team in place to maintain a positive image of your brand. The following topics will be addressed:

  • The outage communication imperatives- protect, preserve, and promote
  • Maintain your social license to operate
  • Inform and engage while addressing infobesity

Daniel Séguin, Director of Communications, Hydro Ottawa

12:30 – 1:15 p.m. :: Lunch Break

1:15 – 2:00 p.m. :: Duke Energy’s Customer Communication/Engagement Strategy for Storms

Utilities need to be proactive with outage communications to ensure customer safety, encourage engagement and increase customer signups for outage-related programs. In this session, learn how Duke Energy uses a very targeted approach that has increased customer satisfaction during storm events and even lowered call volume thereby saving money and reducing costs associated with outages.

Mike Keller, Director of Customer Communications, Governance & Execution, Duke Energy

Tim Hendren, Program Manager, Duke Energy

2:00 – 2:05 p.m. :: Break

2:05 – 2:50 p.m. :: Outage Communications during the Massive Wildfires of 2020

Evolving climate conditions throughout California have made wildfires a year-round concern to many communities. Wildfires raged throughout California in 2020 making it the worst fire season on record by far and about a quarter of SCE customers reside in high-risk fire areas. Interacting with local public safety and emergency management staff has never been more important to SCE as it was last summer. This presentation will provide an overview of what steps SCE had to put into place to deal with the wildfires in 2020 and give an update on all of SCE’s efforts in recent months to continue to improve outage communications.

Tomaso Giannelli, Senior Manager, Southern California Edison

2:50 – 3:00 p.m. :: Break

3:00 – 3:45 p.m. :: How Customer Identity Data Impacts the Customer Experience

At the heart of customer communication is identity — if you do not get it right, everything else will be wrong especially when dealing with outages. How are organizations able to communicate with their customers when consumer data are constantly changing? Changing customer data can negatively impact a utility’s bottom line, the customer experience and create challenging TCPA risks. In this session, learn how customer phone number management can positively impact the entire customer communication experience.

Mitchell Young, VP Risk Solution Sales, Neustar

3:45 – 3:50 p.m. :: Break

3:50 – 4:50 p.m. :: Panel Discussion: Communication During a Pandemic

COVID-19 has changed the way the world does business, and the communications and customer service departments in the utility industry have certainly felt the impact. Communicating with customers and internal communications has never been more important than it is right now. In this roundtable discussion, you will have the opportunity to talk with your peers about successes and challenges with communications during these difficult times.


Nathan Bruns, Administrator of Electric T&D Reliability, City Utilities of Springfield

Kurt Althof, Regional Program Manager, External Communications, Liberty Utilities

Nazima Rayani, Senior Advisor, Marketing & Communications, ATCO

David Goldberg, Director, Customer and Community Engagement, Jacksonville Electric Authority

4:50 p.m. :: Day One Adjourns

Wednesday, January 27, 2021 : Central Time

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. :: Log In

9:00 – 9:40 a.m. :: Developing an Holistic & Informed Outage Experience Strategy

A strong Outage Experience Strategy goes well beyond keeping the lights on for your customer. It starts with investment in good planning that balances both short- and long-term improvements which are prioritized based on your customer’s needs and reliable, trustworthy data. Its supported by a strong communications plan that is relevant across all of your customer segments and can offer a consistent experience across multiple channels – social, web or mobile. This session will share the story of how ATCO realized gaps in their strategy, how we shifted towards better planning, applying customers insights and analytics to shift our focus from internally driven outage strategies to understanding and acknowledging what the customers are actually asking for. It is our strongest path towards building goodwill and brand reputation – even during those dark moments.

Matt Sveinbjornson, Director Customer Experience & Innovation, ATCO

Nazima Rayani, Senior Advisor, Marketing & Communications, ATCO

9:40 – 9:45 a.m. :: Break

9:45 – 10:35 a.m. :: Keys to Maximizing Your Effectiveness!

We all desire to be more effective and successful at work and in our personal lives.  In this presentation we will learn tried and proven methods to be more effective as leaders, workers and individuals – and learn how to help others be more effective too!  Come and learn tips to improve the communication, relationships and performance of you and your team especially during these problematic pandemic times.  We’ll be pulling wisdom from the bestselling business book of all-time (Dr. Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”) and from other leading-edge research and writings. 

Wes Friesen, President, Solomon Training & Development (ret’d Manager, Portland General Electric)

10:35 – 10:40 a.m. :: Break

10:40 – 11:15 a.m. :: Managing the Summer Heat: The Weather and the Media

High demand, monsoon storms and wildfires are potential threats to reliability each summer in the Arizona desert causing customer outages. Not being prepared to mitigate those challenges can present a real threat to a utility’s reputation. Learn how Arizona’s largest electric utility plans for year-round for the media activity that is sure to come over those critical three months.

Richard Rosales, Community Affairs Manager, Arizona Public Service (APS)

11:15 – 11:20 a.m. :: Break

11:20 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. :: Strategic Communications for Outages and More

Establishing more strategic customer outage communications and enhancing explicit alerts requires a deliberate and tactical approach especially in today’s world. With many people working virtually from home because of the pandemic, technology has never been more important to keep people informed about outages and more. From field ops to customer satisfaction, from IT to customer service, from regulatory to communications, all departments need to be involved and on the same page. This presentation will serve as a platform to educate and share how the use of technology assists with a comprehensive outage communications strategy to improve customer satisfaction during unusual times.

Melanie Wemple, Director, E Source

12:00 p.m. :: Conference Adjourns


Supporting Outage Management and Improving Customer Service with AMI

Wednesday, January 27, 2021 : Central Time


Smart meters and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) are widely viewed as crucial to building a smarter electric grid — one that can successfully integrate intermittent renewable energy into a more intelligent power grid. It also gives utilities the ability to respond and restore power rapidly when customers are left in the dark during outages. In addition, they help eliminate unnecessary (and expensive) truck rolls to verify outages. AMI meters automatically notify the utility when the power is out even before a customer reports their outage. This allows for a faster response time and the ability to get power back on sooner.

This workshop is designed to take an in-depth dive on smart meter technologies and how AMI can help reduce outage costs. The instructors will discuss specific ways in which smart meters are already transforming the utility landscape and will continue to do so.  Course attendees will take away additional knowledge and resources required to implement effective solutions that help improve the customer experience and enjoy networking with industry peers. Lessons learned from the instructor’s experience on hundreds of successful projects will be incorporated throughout.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss how smart meters have become an essential part in operations management
  • Explain the integration process of smart meter data into a utilities customer service and asset management systems
  • Identify how AMI supports outate management with fault locations and restoration efforts
  • Discuss the various customers service benefits of smart meters



12:45 – 1:00 p.m. :: Workshop Log In and Welcome

1:00 – 4:30 p.m. :: Workshop Timing

Leveraging the Smart Grid Foundation

  • Overview
  • How the smart grid leverages AMI
  • Realizing the smart grid of the future through AMI technology

Integrations with other IT Systems

  •  The decision system based on the treatment of big data
  • Benefits of integrating AMI and customer systems 
  • How to integrate 

Supporting Outage Management

  • Outage notification
  • Fault location
  • Confirming restoration
  • Accurate recordings of momentary outages

Efficiency and Customer Service Benefits

  • Greater situational awareness
  • Faster restoration and cost savings
  •  Asset management for outage prevention
  •  Better outage alerts for customers



Jim Ketchledge President and CEO, Excergy Corporation

Mr. Ketchledge is a certified PMP, is one of the most experienced and successful AMI and Smart Grid project managers in the industry and the founder of Excergy Corporation, which was recently acquired by E Source. He has built a career around successfully delivering highly complex and multidimensional projects ranging from space satellite systems to electrical utility Smart Grid projects. With more than 30 years of experience, he is a recognized leader in the utility industry who has helped dozens of clients from the early stages of projects through to “go-live.” He has melded project management skills, deep technical and engineering expertise, along with people and change management skills to manage all aspects of intricate implementations. His experience includes leading one of the very first Meter Data Management System (MDMS) implementations in the industry, deploying many complex utility projects, and rescuing troubled projects for various utilities. His project management work has contributed significantly to projects that have won industry awards for outstanding performance.

Mr. Ketchledge joined GE at the start of his career and was selected for the Prestigious Edison Engineering program where he was a finalist for the Young Engineer of the Year in 1991. He then progressed through various engineering and management leadership positions at Hughes Electronics, Convergent Group, and Enspiria Solutions, where he helped grow the start-up business from inception to successful acquisition by Black & Veatch in 2010. He has authored many articles and is a utility conference fixture with highly rated workshops and courses. His 2015 book, “Successful Smart Grid Implementation,” is the definitive guide on smart grid project development and implementation. Jim holds Masters and Bachelor degrees in electrical engineering from Drexel University and Syracuse University, respectively.

Mark Hatfield Executive Consultant, Excergy

Mr. Hatfield brings 25 years of experience in utility operational technologies. His wide-ranging expertise includes project management, strategic visioning, business process modeling, requirements definition, business case development, vendor selection, integration and implementation planning, system configuration, deployment strategies, and project audits. Mr. Hatfield specializes in providing consulting and architecture support for the acquisition, deployment, integration and implementation of Smart Grid, meter data management, field automation, mobile workforce management, and geospatial systems for gas, water, and electric utilities. He holds Masters and Bachelor degrees in Geography from the University of Illinois and the U.S. Air Force Academy, respectively

Joel Westvold Executive Consultant and Sr. Program Manager, Excergy

Mr. Westvold brings a unique perspective to addressing smart grid issues facing utilities based upon his 30 years of experience implementing programs at utilities and providing technology solutions to utility customers. He has experience in a senior management capacity for a large electric utility as well as executive management experience with a technology solutions provider to the utility industry. During his 20-year career at Portland General Electric, Joel led a team that implemented an award winning AMI project that involved the installation of over 800,000 electric meters, the network to communicate with the meters and integration of the technology with utility systems to gain the most financial benefit and efficiency possible. In his role with a technology provider prior to joining Excergy in 2015, he led teams of engagement directors and project managers in the delivery of nearly a hundred smart grid projects, including an area of focus on several large projects of over 1 million meters/endpoints. Joel is passionate about doing everything possible to see clients succeed in their smart grid projects. Mr. Westvold brings a number of skills ranging from project management, engineering expertise, strong people management, and communications at all levels within the organization to assure that success is achieved. He holds an Executive MBA from the University of Washington and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Oregon State University.


  • Kurt Althof, Regional Program Manager, External Communications, Liberty Utilities

  • Nathan Bruns, Administrator of Electric T&D Reliability, City Utilities of Springfield

  • Martine Chartrand, Director of Customer Experience and Operational Development, Hydro-Quebec

  • Eric Davis, Digital & User Experience Manager, American Electric Power (AEP)

  • Wes Friesen, President, Solomon Training & Development (ret’d Manager, Portland General Electric)

  • Tomaso Giannelli, Senior Manager, Southern California Edison

  • David Goldberg, Director, Customer and Community Engagement, Jacksonville Electric Authority

  • Tim Hendren, Program Manager, Duke Energy

  • Mike Keller, Director of Customer Communications, Governance & Execution, Duke Energy

  • Nazima Rayani, Senior Advisor, Marketing & Communications, ATCO

  • Richard Rosales, Community Affairs Manager, Arizona Public Service (APS)

  • Daniel Séguin, Director of Communications, Hydro Ottawa

  • Kimberly A. Smith, Director, Customer Experience & Technology, Customer Operations, ComEd

  • Matt Sveinbjornson, Director Customer Experience & Innovation, ATCO

  • Melanie Wemple, Director, E Source

  • Mitchell Young, VP Risk Solution Sales, Neustar

Online Delivery

We will be using Microsoft Teams to facilitate your participation in the upcoming event. You do not need to have an existing Teams account in order to participate in the broadcast – the course will play in your browser and you will have the option of using a microphone to speak with the room and ask questions, or type any questions in via the chat window and our on-site representative will relay your question to the instructor.

  • You will receive a meeting invitation will include a link to join the meeting.
  • Separate meeting invitations will be sent for the morning and afternoon sessions of the course.
    • You will need to join the appropriate meeting at the appropriate time.
  • If you are using a microphone, please ensure that it is muted until such time as you need to ask a question.
  • The remote meeting connection will be open approximately 30 minutes before the start of the course. We encourage you to connect as early as possible in case you experience any unforeseen problems.


Please Note: Confirmed speakers do not need to register and are encouraged to participate in all sessions of the event. If you are a speaker and have any questions please contact our offices at 1.303.770.8800

Please Note: This event is being conducted entirely online. All attendees will connect and attend from their computer, one connection per purchase. For details please see our FAQ

If you are unable to attend at the scheduled date and time, we make recordings available to all registrants for three business days after the event

Event Standard RateAttendees
Single Connection - 2021 Utility Outage Communications ConferenceUS $ 1195.00
Pack of 5 connectionsUS $ 4,780.00
Pack of 10 ConnectionsUS $ 8,365.00
Pack of 20 ConnectionsUS $ 14,340.00
Call us at 303.770.8800 if you have any specific questions on the volume discounts
* all other discounts do not apply to license packs

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  • Attend the Conference and workshop and pay US $ 1,595.00 per attendee (save US $ 95.00 each)

Cancellation Policy

Your registration may be transferred to a member of your organization up to 24 hours in advance of the event. Cancellations must be received on or before December 18, 2020 in order to be refunded and will be subject to a US $195.00 processing fee per registrant. No refunds will be made after this date. Cancellations received after this date will create a credit of the tuition (less processing fee) good toward any other EUCI event. This credit will be good for six months from the cancellation date. In the event of non-attendance, all registration fees will be forfeited. In case of conference cancellation, EUCIs liability is limited to refund of the event registration fee only. For more information regarding administrative policies, such as complaints and refunds, please contact our offices at 303-770-8800

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