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

9:00 a.m. – 4:50 p.m. :: Conference Timing – Day 1

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 During One of the Worst Storms in ComEd’s History

Whether it’s 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, like the derecho storm that hit the ComEd service territory in August. Conference attendees will hear how the ComEd team took action during the storm with over 100 employees responding via social media, all during a pandemic.

Caralyn Zloch, Social Media Analyst, 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. :: Leveraging Customer Panels to Drive Customer Satisfaction and Experience

Tucson Electric Power (TEP) launched its Customer Panel initiative in 2016 as part of a broader customer experience strategy to collect and utilize the voice of the customer to develop, prioritize or launch projects.  While customer satisfaction research, tracking surveys and industry best practices helped to identify opportunities and define next steps, ultimately small group discussions with residential or business customers helped validate assumptions, uncover improvements and even put a few things on hold for another time.

During this session, TEP will share how they implemented the program; mini-case studies primarily on outage communications and the contact center; overall and project specific research findings that increased customer satisfaction; and how you could design and implement a cost-effective customer panel program at your company.

John Bord, Manager of Customer Operations, Tucson Electric Power (TEP)

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

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. :: Conference Timing – Day 2

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. :: Outage Action Plans

The right communications strategy ensures that customers stay informed before, during and after severe weather and emergencies. Learn how major energy utility clients such as Entergy, PSE&G, National Grid, ConEdison, Eversource and others proactively engage with customers through long-term and short-term communications, including ongoing outage and restoration updates. Plus, take away key insights from Questline’s Energy Utility Benchmarks Report to compare industry best practices and see how outage communications can increase customer satisfaction.

Josh Platt, Account Director, Questline

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


Modern Outage Management with AMI & Data Science

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

  • Explain the basics of outage management systems including outage notifications and restoration confirmation
  • Discuss how to leverage AMI to support outage management
  • Discuss the emerging role of data science in outages
  • Identify several efficiency and customer service benefits
  • Explain how the digital business transformation process works to support OMS



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

1:00 – 4:30 p.m. :: Workshop Timing

1:00 – 1:10 p.m. :: Welcome and Introductions

1:10 – 1:30 p.m. :: OMS Basics

  • Outage notification
  • Fault location
  • Confirming restoration

1:30 – 2:00 p.m. :: Leveraging the AMI Foundation

  • AMI Foundation
  • AMI support of outage operations

2:00 – 2:10 p.m. :: Break

2:10 – 2:40 p.m. :: The Emerging Data Science Role in Outage

2:40 – 3:10 p.m. :: Efficiency and Customer Service Benefits

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

3:10 – 3:20 p.m. :: Break

3:20 – 3:50 p.m. The Utility IT/OT Environment

  • The emerging “system of systems”
  • Key OMS integrations

3:50 – 4:20 p.m. :: Digital Business Transformation to support OMS

  • Optimal Business Design
  • OCM

4:20 – 4:30 p.m. Wrap-Up


Jim Ketchledge, Executive Vice President, E Source

Jim Ketchledge, a certified PMP, is one of the most experienced and successful AMI and Smart Grid project managers in the industry. 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, Mr. Ketchledge 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 has authored many articles and is a utility conference fixture with highly rated workshops and courses. His book, “Successful Smart Grid Implementation,” is the definitive guide on smart grid project development and implementation. Mr. Ketchledge holds Master and Bachelor of Science degrees in electrical engineering from Drexel University and Syracuse University, respectively.

Mark Hatfield, Vice President Innovation, E Source

Mark Hatfield has more than 20 years of experience in utility operational technologies. His 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. He has developed product roadmaps, project implementation methodologies, and is an expert at IT integrations. Mark’s expertise includes providing consulting and architecture support for acquiring and deploying technology solutions encompassing complete, end-to-end responsibilities to fully implement an advanced smart grid solution with AMI, MDMS, DR, Data Analytics, and web portal technologies; and integration with the CIS; developing all Smart Grid solution business processes; and ensuring implementation of the processes through design, implementation, and testing. He is currently supporting E Source’s data analytics efforts at Tacoma Public Utilities.

Kody M. Salem, Senior Vice President – Business Development, E Source

Kody Salem provides outstanding support for utility technology initiatives such as smart grid and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, and outage management systems. Specifically, he leads all business development and partnering efforts for E Source’s technology planning and implementation consulting division. In previous roles, Kody managed the consulting team, matching clients’ needs with best-fit talent. And he provides his own subject-matter expertise for client engagements. Kody has a strong background in radio frequency, instrumentation, and controls technologies, coupled with more than 30 years of technical operations and management experience. As a shift technical engineer and operator-in-charge at a US Department of Energy facility, he learned to lead nontechnical personnel through the performance of many complicated projects and daily operations tasks. Kody received a BS in electrical engineering technology from Purdue University.

Kim Neininger, Vice President Strategy, E Source

Kim Neininger, PMP, is a strategic, focused, and transformational leader with more than 25 years of solid, efficient business design and alignment expertise, providing an integrated and phased approach to digital business transformation. Her expertise includes operational alignment and execution of strategic corporate initiatives that facilitate sustainable growth. With decades of experience in strategic planning/facilitation, organizational development, business alignment, change leadership, business process management, and customer success engagement, Kim brings a proven ability to build and lead high-performing, complex organizations in a multi-cultural environment. She has built relationships and engaged key stakeholders to transform organizational culture and implement innovative program initiatives, including IT strategy road mapping, while introducing industry best practices to impact operations and employee engagement. Prior to joining E Source, Kim provided expert strategy, organizational change, and business process management services to a number of large firms utilizing change management Prosci methodology and strategic planning workshop facilitation to guide project and transition deliverables with increased efficiency, continuous improvement, collaborative teamwork and consistent communication throughout the company. Kim holds a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership from Regis University.

Melanie Wemple, Senior Director Consulting Solutions, E Source

Ms.  Wemple has broad industry knowledge about the design, implementation, and evaluation of demand-side management (DSM) and distributed generation programs as well as utility services such as billing, outage and restoration communications, and revenue-generating utility products. She also has expertise in journey-mapping facilitation, project management, and process implementation. Throughout her six years with E Source, Melanie has provided data analysis, best practices, and actionable recommendations that have enabled energy-efficiency program administrators meet their DSM goals cost-effectively. She previously worked with Standard Renewable Energy, a company focused on lowering consumers’ utility bills through energy-efficiency and renewable technologies, and she honed her research capabilities while working at National Geographic. Melanie holds a BA in geography with a minor in environmental studies from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Will Gifford, Director of Data Science, E Source

Will Gifford’s 15+ year career has centered on applying statistical and machine learning models to complex problems for in the energy industry, helping utilities make the data available to them more useful. As E Source’s data science director of demand side management, he and his team drive solutions that transform customer analytics from one-off research analyses to critical operational tools. Prior to joining E Source, Will spent the better part of a decade at KEMA, which became DNV GL, and started his career at the Energy Information Administration (EIA).  He holds a Master’s degree in Applied Statistics and BS in stats and math, all from the University of Michigan.


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

  • John Bord, Manager of Customer Operations, Tucson Electric Power (TEP)

  • 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

  • Josh Platt, Account Director, Questline

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

  • Daniel Séguin, Director of Communications, Hydro Ottawa

  • Matt Sveinbjornson, Director Customer Experience & Innovation, ATCO

  • Melanie Wemple, Director, E Source

  • Mitchell Young, VP Risk Solution Sales, Neustar

  • Caralyn Zloch, Social Media Analyst, ComEd

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: 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

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