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9th Annual Best Practices in Public Participation for Transmission Projects

Event Description and Agenda:

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 siting 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 conference, you will hear best practice case studies from leading electric transmission professionals, and the strategies and methods they use to positively engage stakeholders and overcome project obstacles. You will leave 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.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

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

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

8:45 - 9:30 a.m. :: Improving Stakeholder Engagement for Successful Project Design and Delivery

Conveying the concept and plan for siting new transmission projects while complicated, does not have to be a communications nightmare. Regulators have to approve projects and cost recovery, local governments have to grant permits, and citizens have to deal with local impacts, including construction, potential road disruption, noise, and long-lasting visual impacts. All parties have a right to know what is involved. Communication strategies for transmission project management need to be characterized by openness, transparency, accuracy, and the realistic assessments of impacts which include reliability, visual, land, and cost, and must be compared to the next best alternative. Communications need to answer the question "if not this, then what?" provided that a real need for this or some alternative project exists. In this session, examples, case studies, and best practices will be used to demonstrate how to improve communications and involve a multitude of stakeholders in successful project design and delivery.

Paul DeCotis, formerly Vice President of Power Markets, Long Island Power Authority Director, Energy and Utility Practice, West Monroe Partners, LLP

9:30 - 10:15 a.m. :: Case Study: A Proactive Strategic Approach to Support Major Project Approval and Construction

In this session, you will learn how San Diego Gas & Electric proactively engages stakeholders to gain support of major project development of electric and natural gas projects throughout the SDG&E service territory, at all stages of development. SDG&E's belief is that there is no such thing as a "one-size fits all" approach to public participation. Instead, the Regional Public Affairs Team and Major Projects Specific Teams coordinate to tailor the right approach for each project, including:

  • Internal support and external outreach
  • Project-specific public affairs plans
  • CAISO bidding process, pre-filing, CEQA process, construction
  • Lead on construction notifications
  • Active role in agency approval processes
  • Close coordination with RPA, media, community relations, and the broader project team

Todd Voorhees, Regional Public Affairs Manager, Major Projects External Relations Group, San Diego Gas & Electric

10:15 - 10:45 a.m. :: Networking Break

10:45 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. :: Case Study: The Eldorado-Ivanpah Transmission Project: A Success Story of Proactive Stakeholder Engagement

The fragile desert habitat along the California-Nevada border is home to several protected species and presented numerous challenges for the Eldorado-Ivanpah Transmission Project construction. The new lines crossed lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which required Southern California Edison to implement some of its most aggressive and proactive stakeholder engagement and overall agency communication. In this session, you will learn the details of how this was achieved on an accelerated 18-month project schedule to meet deadline. You will hear how SCE was able to get ahead of project constraints that could have slowed or stopped construction. The end result was a successful project that leveraged technology and teamwork to achieve project goals under a series of demanding constraints.

Jerry Silva, Senior Project Manager, Southern California Edison

Roger Schultz, Senior Project Manager, Southern California Edison

11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m :: Communicating the Complexities of Energy Projects to Non-Technical Audiences

In a world where opposition groups are increasingly distorting the facts and bending the context of key project messages through social and digital media this session looks at some innovative 3D technologies that ensure key and often complex messages are communicated in a way that people understand irrespective of their ability to interpret and decipher technical data.

The session will look at

  • examples of how interveners have submitted factually incorrect statements and imagery and the techniques used to successfully rebut such project propaganda
  • communicating the right message to the right audience in a way that people understand
  • arming project spokespeople with tools that ensure complex messages are communicated both accurately and consistently across the project team

Tony Coggan, CEO, Truescape North America

12:15 - 1:15 p.m. :: Group Luncheon

1:15 - 2:30 p.m. :: Panel Session: Effective Communication Approaches from the Agency Perspective

Stakeholders in a transmission project range from residences and community leaders to federal, state, and local agencies. This panel provides an opportunity for attendees to gain insight from the agency leads on how to work through the regulatory process for transmission projects. Panel representatives will provide an overview of their agency and then discuss key issues such as:

  • Timing and frequency of communication
  • Required vs. proactive communication
  • Communication avenues
  • Understanding the steps necessary to keep a project moving forward

Time will be available for questions and comments from conference attendees.

Moderated by:

Michelle Bissonnette, Senior Vice President, Strategic Services, HDR

Panel Participants:

Carl Zichella, Director of Western Transmission, Natural Resources Defense Council

Julie Smith, PhD., Electricity Policy Analyst, National Electricity Delivery Division, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department Of Energy (invited)

2:30 - 3:00 p.m. :: Networking Break

3:00 - 4:00 p.m. :: Case Study: Creating and Launching an In-Depth Community Engagement Strategy

In this session, you will learn about the in-depth communication and community engagement strategy that Puget Sound Energy developed and deployed for the Energize Eastside project - a new 230-115 kV transformer and 230 kV transmission line through a dense residential and commercial urban environment. Key points to be covered include:

  • Preparation required to message the project
  • Internal team structure employed
  • "Playbook" concept utilized
  • Campaign-like tactics deployed

Gretchen Aliabadi, Manager, Communications Initiatives, Puget Sound Energy

Leann Kostek, Sr. Project Manager, Puget Sound Energy

David Gitlin, Associate, EnviroIssues

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. :: Expanding Public Outreach by Embracing Technology

Flyers vs. Facebook, snail mail vs. tweets, and phone calls vs. emails. Why pick? In this case study, you'll learn how you can do it all! The handshake will never vanish and was a critical element to the success of this transmission line project routing and public outreach process. Well promoted open houses create active engagement and also provide project teams with critical input for the routing process. In addition to these traditional promotional tools, this transmission line project used zip-code targeted social media ads (Facebook and Twitter) through Corporate social media pages and sent various email invites with outlook calendar links. For the busy public, an online open house was created, linked from the project website, and promoted for people to access the open house materials, watch videos, view interactive maps, and provide input. In this session, you'll learn how reaching stakeholders in-person, and making impressions on thousands more, expanded outreach and stretched dollars to gain the necessary input to identify the smartest routes.

Emily Hyland, Public Involvement Manager, HDR

Ameren (invited)

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


Thursday, January 22, 2015

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

8:30 - 9:30 a.m. :: The Stakeholder Tier System: A Tool to Assist Management of Public Engagement Processes for Large Infrastructure Projects

Large infrastructure projects involving a substantial number of potential project stakeholders can be difficult to manage from a public engagement perspective. Linear infrastructure projects in particular, such as roadways and transmission lines, given the number of affected stakeholders and the typical degree of public concern pose specific hurdles to overcome. Challenges lie with identifying, notifying, involving and managing a large number of individual stakeholders and stakeholder groups in effective and appropriate ways to suit a diversity of interest types or interest levels. There are typically a variety of types of stakeholders, a variety of interest areas among stakeholders, and varying levels of potential impacts to stakeholders. The Stakeholder Tier System provides a framework for identifying, sorting, and managing individual stakeholders and stakeholder groups, in a manner that recognizes the potential for some stakeholders to be more significantly impacted than others, rather than simply relying on a Ďbroadcast approach' to public engagement. The presentation will focus on the use of the Tier System for three linear projects in Manitoba: an urban transitway, an inter-provincial highway, and a 1,384km 500 kV direct current facility.

Donovan Toews, MCIP, Principal, Landmark Planning

9:30 - 9:45 a.m. :: Question and Answer

9:45 - 10:30 a.m. :: Case Study: Engagement and Neutralization; a Delicate Balance

In this session, hear from the front line of Alta Link's transmission stakeholder engagement. Alta Link's 360' team of specialists have successfully stayed ahead of special interests poised to drum up opposition to economy-vital transmission projects. Learn how the team has ensured meaningful engagement and interaction with the people that really matter: the communities and landowners ?that are impacted by the much needed expansion of Northern Alberta's transmission system.

Leigh Clarke, Sr. VP, External Engagement, AltaLink

10:30 - 11:00 a.m. :: Networking Break

11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. :: EMF: What the Public Wants to Know and Why It Matters to Your Project

Public concern about electric and magnetic fields (EMF) and related potential health effects began in the late 1970s in association with higher voltage transmission lines and desktop computers. While concern about the latter has largely diminished, concern about EMF from transmission lines and substations continues and is sometimes a major issue in the siting and permitting of these facilities. Experience demonstrates that presenting technically accurate comparisons of exposures from existing and proposed facilities provides a good context for communicating with the public. Sharing the results of experimental and epidemiology research studies and the perspectives of national and international health and scientific agencies is an effective method to assuage public concern. This session will teach you how to get the science right in your public outreach messages about EMF.

Gabor Mezei, Ph.D., Senior Managing Scientist, Exponent

12:00 p.m. :: Conference Adjourns

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