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

2020 Wildfire Mitigation for Utilities Conference
April 20-21, 2020 | San Francisco, CA

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Overview

In the West, wildfires are increasing in both frequency and severity, and electrical companies operating in wildfire-prone areas face significant risks. Utilities must take measures to reduce exposure and mitigate financial liability.

This conference will bring together utility personnel from Western states to collaborate and discuss:

  • Infrastructure Enhancements to Reduce Risk of Wildfires
  • Key Objectives of Utility Wildfire Mitigation Plans
  • Regulatory Views of Proposed Mitigation Plans
  • De-energization to Minimize Risk
  • Wildland-Urban Interface and Challenges of Vegetation Management

The post-event workshop will focus on financial risk management. Recent catastrophic wildfires attributed to utilities have caused billions of dollars in property damage, leading to increased costs for utilities, credit downgrades, and bankruptcy. This workshop will detail the complicated issues surrounding utilities and the costs associated with wildfire risks.

At EUCI’s Wildfire Mitigation for Utilities Conference, utility and industry professionals, wildfire experts, and thought leaders from across the West will inform and engage each other about the challenges of wildfires and share their best practices and lessons learned, as well as share cutting-edge technology that can help us better manage these disasters.

Learning Outcomes

This conference will provide attendees an opportunity to:

  • Discuss how to collaborate with customers, community groups, federal agencies and other stakeholders to stay ahead of impending disasters
  • Demonstrate best practices on how to prepare official wildfire mitigation plans
  • Discuss strategies for grid hardening, situational awareness, & vegetation management
  • Identify lessons learned from case studies of recent wildfires
  • Explore new and traditional ways of forecasting and planning for wildfire risk
  • Recognize pros and cons of PSPS (Public Safety Power Shut-Off) events
  • Demonstrate how to be proactive in wildfire planning and prevention

Credits

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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 0.9 CEUs for this conference and 0.2 CEUs for the workshop.

 

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

Agenda

Monday, April 20, 2020

7:30 – 8:00 a.m. :: Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:00 – 8:10 a.m. :: Welcome Remarks by Chair


8:10 – 8:40 a.m. :: Keynote Address

Caroline Thomas-Jacobs, Director, Wildfire Safety Division, California Public Utilities Commission


8:40 – 10:15 a.m. :: Panel Discussion: Regulatory View of Proposed Mitigation Plans: Key Objectives

As climate change and wildfires continue to dominate policy discussions in much of the West, utilities are designing mitigation plans to prevent electric equipment-related fires, improve resiliency of regional grids, and keep customers safe. Policymakers are examining these plans and recommending solutions. This panel brings together regulators from various states and British Columbia to discuss the key objectives they are looking for in comprehensive utility mitigation plans.

Eric Anderson, Commissioner, Idaho Public Utilities Commission

David Morton, Chair and CEO, British Columbia Utilities Commission

Caroline Thomas-Jacobs, Director, Wildfire Safety Division, California Public Utilities Commission


10:15 – 10:45 a.m. :: Infrastructure Enhancements to Reduce Risk of Wildfires

What pole risk mitigation and wire safety enhancement programs will be most effective, and what are the costs and time allotment for these efforts? What are the barriers utilities face in these efforts? And what are the best practices for operational fire prevention with employees, facilities, and culture change relative to daily operations? This presentation will outline infrastructure improvements that can help in the mitigation of wildfires.

Bill Chiu, Managing Director, Grid Modernization & Resilience, Southern California Edison

10:45 – 11:30 a.m. :: Networking Break


11:30 – 12:00 a.m. :: Wildfire Risk and Grid Resilience

Utilities in fire-prone regions are working to minimize risk of infrastructure causing catastrophic events. This session will cover integration efforts in operations, situational awareness, and customer outreach as implemented by San Diego Gas & Electric.

Brian D’Agostino, Director, Fire Science & Climate Adaptation, San Diego Gas & Electric

12:00 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. :: Group Luncheon


1:30 – 3:00 p.m. :: Panel Discussion: Wildland–Urban Interface and Challenges of Vegetation Management

Increased development in the wildland urban interface (WUI) has resulted in higher fire risk and more suppression needs, costing billions every year. Vegetation management is a critical issue. It is one of the largest expense items associated with maintaining overhead transmission and distribution systems. NERC sets vegetation management requirements for transmission, but clearance requirements differ from state to state. This panel brings together WUI and vegetation management experts to discuss best practices for these critical steps in wildfire mitigation. 

Barnie Gyant, Deputy Regional Forester, US Forest Service

Jessica Morse, Deputy Secretary of Forest Resources Management, California Natural Resources Agency

Dave Sapsis, Wildfire Scientist, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Jon Skinner, Fire Education Director, Bureau of Land Management

3:00 – 3:30 p.m. :: Networking Break


3:30 – 4:30 p.m. :: Technological Enhancements and Tools for Utilities

This session will be a showcase featuring a series of presentations and/or case studies spotlighting the latest tech and tools available for utilities that will simplify forecasting, operational decision-making, and modeling fire behavior.

Chuck Anderson, President, Environmental Consultants Inc (ECI)   

4:30 p.m. :: Day 1 Adjourns


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

7:30 – 8:00 a.m. :: Continental Breakfast

8:00 – 8:10 a.m. :: Welcome Remarks by Chair


8:10 – 8:30 a.m. :: De-energization to Minimize Wildfire Risk

Investor-owned utilities in California have general authority to shut off electric power to protect public safety under state law. Utilities have exercised this authority as a last resort through Public Safety Power Shut-offs. This presentation will discuss how de-energization can be implemented without increasing public safety concerns, since communication and essential services are based on electricity.        

Kirsten Petersen, Senior Engineer, San Diego Gas & Electric


8:30 – 9:00 a.m. :: Operational Fire Prevention

Many utilities are making significant enhancements in system design to minimize the threat of wildfires, but operational procedures, supplemental inspection, and maintenance work is imperative as well. What are best practices for employees and facilities relative to day-to-day operations? How is the culture changing for utility operations?

Cameron McPherson, Sr. Project Manager, Grid Resiliency and Public Safety, Southern California Edison


9:30 – 10:00 a.m. :: Case Study: PG&E

Sumeet Singh, Vice President, Community Wildfire Safety Program, Pacific Gas & Electric

10:00 – 10:30 a.m. :: Networking Break


10:30 -11:30 a.m. :: Panel Discussion: Situational Awareness Strategies

In order to identify effective infrastructure hardening, VM, and other wildfire mitigation-related programs, underlying data needs to be collected and analyzed to ensure successful implementation. This insight into system conditions and environmental conditions allow utilities to be better prepared for events before they occur. This presentation will include best practices for use of PTZ cameras, drones, and other tools.

Koko Tomassian, Safety Enforcement Division, California Public Utilities Commission (invited)

Tom Rolinski, Fire Scientist, Southern California Edison


11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. :: Communication Strategies Before and After Catastrophic Events

In May 2018, Seattle City Light was awarded a Public Education award for it’s five-year plan for wildfire mitigation. The plan was created through collaboration of local emergency management experts, community members, climate adaptation specialists, and City Light employees. This presentation will demonstrate how this plan proved to be successful, and how they are planning to increase awareness in the future.

Cody Watson, Fire Brigade Chief, Seattle City Light

12:00 p.m. :: Conference Adjourns

Workshop

Wildfire Financial Risk Management for Utilities

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Overview

Recent catastrophic wildfires caused by utilities have caused billions of dollars in property damage. These damages will lead to increased costs for utilities, which could be passed on to ratepayers. The potential of increased costs associated with wildfire risks has affected the credit markets, leading to one IOU (Pacific Gas and Electric) declaring bankruptcy, as well as credit downgrades for other utilities. These credit downgrades make securing financing for capital investments more difficult, which could also lead to cost increases for ratepayers.  POUs and cooperatives also face financial crisis. In most cases POUs are unable to shift the burden of their liability threat, causing costs to be born by ratepayers.  This workshop will detail the complicated issues surrounding utilities and the costs associated with wildfire risks.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discover how to collaborate with financial experts and insurers to minimize increased costs for utilities
  • Demonstrate best practices on how to secure financing for capital investments during difficult times
  • Identify options for offloading financial risk to insurers and capital markets
  • Discuss strategies for minimizing risk to ratepayers while providing affordable service
  • Develop a deep understanding of current legislation including Bill 1054 and get an overview of proposed litigation

Agenda

1:30 -1:50 p.m. :: Registration

1:50 – 2:00 p.m. :: Welcome Remarks by Chair


2:00 – 2:45 p.m. :: The Cost of Wildfires

When utilities are found to be a cause of a fire, they can be required to pay for property damage, suppression expenditures incurred by government entities, and other economic and natural resource damages.  How can utilities minimize risk to ratepayers and continue to provide affordable service?

Sean Hecht, Co-Executive Director, Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, UCLA Law School


2:45  – 3:15 p.m. :: Insurance

With the increased frequency and severity of wildfires in the West, utilities must struggle with insurance costs that are significantly higher than a few years ago. In the volatile environment of credit rating downgrades and higher financing costs for utilities, how can utilities offload more wildfire financial risk to insurers and capital markets?

Joel Laucher, Senior Advisor, California Department f Insurance (invited)

3:15 – 3:30 p.m. :: Afternoon Break


4:00 – 4:30 p.m. :: Legislation

In California, Assembly Bill 1054 was passed as an urgency statute for stabilization, establishing a $21 billion wildfire fund which electrical corporations may access upon meeting specified requirements. Half of that money comes from utilities, the other half is funded by ratepayers. How does the plan help or hurt long-term financial viability for utilities?

Presenter to be announced


4:30 – 5:00 p.m. :: Review and Q&A: Moving Forward to Manage Wildfire Risk

Workshop Adjourns

 

Workshop Speakers

Sean Hecht, Co-Director, Emmet Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA Law School

Senior Representative, California Department of Insurance

Speakers

  • Chuck Anderson, President, Environmental Consultants Inc (ECI)
  • Eric Anderson, Commissioner, Idaho Public Utilities Commission
  • Bill Chiu, Managing Director, Grid Modernization & Resilience, Southern California Edison
  • Brian D’Agostino, Director, Fire Science & Climate Adaptation, San Diego Gas & Electric
  • Barnie Gyant, Deputy Regional Forester, US Forest Service
  • Sean Hecht, Co-Executive Director, Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, UCLA Law School
  • Senior Representative, California Department Insurance
  • Cameron McPherson, Sr. Project Manager, Grid Resiliency and Public Safety, Southern California Edison
  • Jessica Morse, Deputy Secretary of Forest Resources Management, California Natural Resources Agency
  • David Morton, Chair and CEO, British Columbia Utilities Commission
  • Kirsten Petersen, Senior Engineer, San Diego Gas & Electric
  • Tom Rolinski, Fire Scientist, Southern California Edison
  • Dave Sapsis, Wildfire Scientist, California Department Of Forestry And Fire Protection
  • Sumeet Singh, Vice President, Community Wildfire Safety Program, Pacific Gas & Electric
  • Jon Skinner, Fire Education Director, Bureau Of Land Management
  • Caroline Thomas-Jacobs, Director, Wildfire Safety Division, California Public Utilities Commission
  • Koko Tomassian, Safety Enforcement Division, California Public Utilities Commission (invited)
  • Cody Watson, Fire Brigade Chief, Seattle City Light

Location

Juniper Hotel Cupertino

10050 S. De Anza Blvd

Cupertino, CA 95014

Reserve your room:

please call 1-408-253-8900

Room Block Reserved For:

Nights of April 19 – 20, 2020

Room rate through EUCI:

$285.00 single or double plus applicable taxes
Make your reservations prior to March 2, 2020.

Register

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

Muni and Government employees qualify for a reduced rate

EventEarly Bird Before
Friday, April 03, 2020
Standard RateAttendees
2020 Wildfire Mitigation for Utilities ConferenceUS $ 1295.00 US $ 1495.00

This event has the following workshops:

Wildfire Financial Risk Management for UtilitiesUS $ 495.00
US $ 595.00

*Please note: all attendees of the conference will receive a link to downlaod all presentations that are made available by the presenters. If you cannot attend the conference but would still like a copy of these materials, please consider purchasing the proceedings package listed below

I cannot attend but would like a copy of the proceedings

Proceedings package US $ 295.00

Take advantage of these discounts!

  • Attend the Conference and workshop and pay US $ 1,695.00 per attendee (save US $ 95.00 each)

Register 3 Send 4th Free!

Any organization wishing to send multiple attendees to these conferences may send 1 FREE for every 3 delegates registered. Please note that all registrations must be made at the same time to qualify.

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 March 20, 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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