All information subject to change.

Register to Attend

Pre-Conference Session: Monday, Feb. 17

8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Harris NorthStar User Group Meeting*
*Invitation-only event

Day 1 — Pre-Conference Sessions: Tuesday, Feb. 18

8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Registration
8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Tyler Technologies User Group Meeting*
Nexgrid User Group Meeting*
2 – 3 p.m.
Vendor Breakout Sessions
3 – 3:15 p.m.
Break
*Invitation-only event

General Session #1: Tuesday, Feb. 18

3:15 – 3:25 p.m.
Opening Remarks
Julie McMurry, 2020 Connections Summit Conference Chair
3:25 – 3:45 p.m.
Welcome to the 2020 Connections Summit
Roy Jones, ElectriCities CEO
3:45 – 4:45 p.m.
Optimizing Your Business: Best Practices for Running Your Utility
Keynote Speaker: Arlen Orchard, CEO and General Manager, Sacramento Municipal Utilities District
Do you have a handle on your core competencies? What should your staff take on? What should you outsource? Utility operations are expanding. Sometimes we can’t take on everything ourselves. This session explores some best practices for running an efficient, modern utility.
4:45 – 6 p.m.
Vendor Reception

Day 2 — General Session #2: Wednesday, Feb. 19

7 – 8 a.m.
Breakfast
8 – 9:15 a.m.
The Future is Electric: Municipal Benefits of Electric Vehicles for Fleet and Transit (Panel Discussion)
Panelists: Ed Halbig, Director, Planning and Development, City of Seneca S.C.; Virginia Hewitt, Southeast Regional Manager, Greenlots; Gregory Sponseller, Energy & Sustainability Analyst, City of Raleigh, N.C.; Dale Hill, Founder, Proterra
Electric vehicles have become a significant segment of the auto market. Several of our cities have converted many of their fleets and municipal bus systems to EVs. Hear from this panel on the impacts, advantages, and challenges of EV adoption.
9:15 – 9:30 a.m.
Break

Breakout Session 1: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.

9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Financial Assessment for Sustainability
Finance & Customer Service Track
(Speakers to be announced)
A utility’s overall financial health can help ensure its current and future ability to provide reliable service to customers. Attendees will learn guidelines to assess a utility’s current financial health compared to key financial targets, and how to put a plan in place to reach recommended targets. Key financial targets will be explained and how they work together.
9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Cybersecurity: Where to Start
Information Technology Track
Speakers: John Helme, Sr. Security Analyst, Utility Services
Cyber threats are real risks to small utilities and municipalities. Staying up to date on cybersecurity trends is essential and inexpensive. In fact, many free resources are available to assist. Attendees will learn best practices for developing awareness and incorporating simple, low-cost measures that can go a long way and make a real impact. When it comes to cybersecurity, doing nothing isn’t an option.
9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Roundtable: Electric Vehicle (EV) Chargers
Operations Technology Track
Speakers: Jimmy Woods, Product Manager, Clean Energy Products-Southeast Region Utilities; Gary Smith, Director of Programs, Sagewell, Inc.; Jim Burness, National Car Charging
Electric vehicles can provide a key source of kWh sales, but an EV isn’t worth the same to all utilities. Short talks from four major players in the EV charging industry will be followed by open discussion and questions from attendees.
9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Strategic Planning: Who, What, Why and NOW!
Management & Coordination Track
Speakers: Steve VanderMeer, Senior VP, Planning and Marketing – Hometown; Connections; Eric Neumann, Electric Utilities Director – Town of Apex
Strategic planning is key to running a successful utility. In this session, attendees will learn the importance of strategic planning, what a strategic plan and process looks like, and how to get started. Key learning and best practices from the Town of Apex’s strategic planning process will also be shared.
9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
The Nuts and Bolts of Workforce Planning
Workforce Track
(Speakers to be announced)
An organization’s workforce is arguably its most critical asset. However, it is often not carefully planned to support an organization’s short and long-term strategic objectives. In this session, attendees will discuss the key components of workforce planning including demand planning, internal analysis, gap analysis, and talent development.
10:30 – 11a.m.
Snack Break in Sponsor Hall

Breakout Session #2: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
What’s in Your Piggy Bank
Finance & Customer Service Track
(Speakers to be announced)
A current concern for utilities across the country is “how much cash reserves should our public utility hold?” This session discusses the importance of a formal cash reserve policy and how it can relate to the overall health of the electric fund. Key financial risk areas are discussed and how they can translate into establishment of a minimum amount of reserves the electric utility should hold unique to their circumstances. Also discussed will be how a formal cash reserve policy can guide the amount and timing of debt issuances.
11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Cyber Threat Reality Check: Today’s Primary Target is the Municipal Utility
Information Technology Track
Speakers: AESI- US, Inc.
Reports of high-profile cyberattacks on banks, insurance companies, large retailers, the military, and more are all over the media. In response, these institutions have dedicated significant resources to harden their cyber defenses. While still targets, these major institutions are increasingly difficult to penetrate. So, where are hackers turning their sites? On softer targets that have a large surface area to attack, the ability to pay ransom, and are managed by officials fearful of community disruption and embarrassment if their databases are compromised – public power utilities. This session explains why cybercriminals are targeting public power utilities and municipalities, how they are penetrating cyber defenses, and strategies for fighting them off.
11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Analytics in Action: Manage Your Grid with Smart Meter Data
Operations Technology Track
Speakers: Eric Stranz, SE Regional Sales Manager – Power Division, NovaTech; Andy Gould, CISSP, Application Engineer II – Automation, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories; Terry Gibson, Application Engineer – Automation, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories
A review of SCADA Solutions that provides operation and situational awareness, reliability and system troubleshooting advantages at a fraction of the cost of large control center solutions. System architecture, redundancy options, flexibility for future expansion, communications and notification options are among the topics that will be presented for discussion.
11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Using a Project Management Approach to Improve Project Success
Management & Coordination Track
Speakers: Susan Fritzen, Chief Corporate Services Officer – Fayetteville Public Works Commission; Letitia Cisco-Smith, Project Manager – Fayetteville Public Works Commission
When thinking of projects, most people focus on the scope, schedule, and budget, but there is so much more involved to have a successful project! This session will discuss all the components of managing a project, from establishing a project team, to the lessons learned. Attendees will learn the basic components of a project management methodology, the benefits of creating cross functional teams, and how to create a project team or project management office (PMO) using internal and external resources.
11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Laying the Foundation: Defining the Value of Public Power
Workforce Track
Speaker: Steve VanderMeer, Senior VP, Planning and Marketing – Hometown; Connections
Any actions that impact a utility’s operations and workforce are driven from the same foundation – an understanding of the value of Public Power. Attendees will discuss how Public Power utilities set themselves apart from other municipal operations. They will also learn strategies for evaluating and promoting the value of their Public Power utility, a critical foundational step for any strategic workforce decisions.
12 – 1 p.m.
Boxed Lunch & Vendor Breakout Sessions
1 – 1:30 p.m.
Dessert in Sponsor Hall

General Session #3: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 1:30 – 2:45 p.m.

1:30 – 2:45 p.m.
Sparking Talent: How Technology Incubators Add Value to Public Power Municipalities
Panelists: David Warner, Director, Technology Incubator @ Knowledge Park, Rock Hill, S.C.; Darren Smith, Manager, Gig East Exchange, Wilson, N.C.; Susan Sanford, Executive Director, Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster
Some public power communities are home to “technology incubators” or centralized programs to assist startup companies and help them to grow. While these startups may not always be focused on the energy industry, these programs can often benefit and collaborate with the local public power utility. Hear from some local communities that have taken this approach.
2:45 – 3:30 p.m.
Sponsor Lightning Round
3:30 – 3:45 p.m.
Break

Breakout Session #3: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 3:45 – 4:45 p.m.

3:45 – 4:45 p.m.
The Newest Strategies for Optimizing Collections
Finance & Customer Service Track
(Speakers to be announced)
Customer engagement plays a significant role in collections. A customer who is not engaged is less likely to pay – especially on time or in full. A biller who is not top of mind is just a bill on the bottom of the stack. Learn about the newest techniques and tools to drive customer engagement and payments. These experience-based, actionable strategies have proven to result in greater digital adoption, accelerated revenue collections, fewer delinquencies and improved customer satisfaction across ALL customer segments.
3:45 – 4:45 p.m.
Public Power Cybersecurity Case Study: One Utility’s Comprehensive Cyber Threat Program
Information Technology Track
Speakers: AESI-US, Inc.
Through a detailed case study of Fort Collins Utilities, this session covers the full scope of cybersecurity program development, including vulnerability assessment, program design and deployment, and governance/employee training. Speakers will review in detail how one public power utility moved through the process of identifying all its cyber and privacy exposures and then developed a comprehensive and sustainable step-by-step process for securing its information and operation technology systems.
3:45 – 4:45 p.m.
Establishing an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Support Organization
Operations Technology Breakout 3
Speakers: Corey Brown, Meter Services Manager, Fayetteville Public Works Commission
A review of the best practices, organizational changes and support required during and after an AMI deployment.
3:45 – 4:45 p.m.
Becoming a "Smart City"
Management & Coordination Track
Speakers: John Steinberger, VP of Sales – North America – Trilliant; Tim Fairchild, Director, Global Energy Practice – SAS; Speaker 3: TBD
Today, the term Smart City encompasses many different things. These range from advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and streetlight control, to advanced traffic management, sustainability and efficiency goals, downtown WiFi, or trash cans that notify the city when they're full. Attendees for this session will learn some of the basics of the term "Smart City," tips for developing a smart city strategy, how various technologies and data play a key role, and hear feedback from a successful smart city program in a nearby community.
3:45 – 4:45 p.m.
Evolving Customer Expectations: How Your Workforce Needs Change
Workforce Track
Speakers: Steve VanderMeer, Senior VP, Planning and Marketing – Hometown; Connections
(Second speaker to be announced)
In the Age of the Customer, expectations are rapidly changing across all industries, including utilities. As customers demand more personalized service and access to data, is your workforce prepared to meet these expectations? Attendees will discuss current customer trends and how they will affect your workforce. Attendees will also learn about strategies used by other Public Power utilities to address this change head on.
4:45 – 6 p.m.
Vendor Reception

Day 3 — General Session #4: Thursday, Feb. 20, 8 – 9:15 a.m.

8 – 9:15 a.m.
Sustainable Solutions: Embracing Sustainability Opportunities that Reach Customers
Keynote Speaker: Ivan Urlab, Executive Director, North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association
Sustainable energy has been a disruptive force in the electric utility industry; however, it’s not just about solar panels. Sustainability includes energy efficiency, demand response, storage, customer engagement, and a variety of other opportunities for public power communities to connect with their customers. Hear from Ivan Urlab, executive director of the NC Sustainable Energy Association, about how sustainable energy firms want to work with you to provide your customers a better experience.
9:15 – 9:30 a.m.
Break

Breakout Session #4: Thursday, Feb. 20, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.

9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Key Lessons for Key Accounts
Finance & Customer Service Track
(Speakers to be announced)
Description to come…
9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Information Technology Breakout 4
Information Technology Track
(Speakers to be announced)
Description to come…
9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Analytics in Action: Manage Your Grid with Smart Meter Data
Operations Technology Track
Speakers: Jared Gregory, Product Manager, Electric, Sensus
Service reliability and confidence in grid performance are paramount to Fayetteville Public Works Commission (PWC). By analyzing smart meter data, Fayetteville PWC is proactively managing their grid through conservation voltage reduction and outage management programs. After attending this session, utilities will have a better understanding of how smart meter data and analytics can be used to actively manage the grid.
9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
5G, Fiber, and Broadband: Opportunities for Your Community
Management & Coordination Track
Speakers: Jeff Ebihara, Director – Business Development – Waterford Consultants; Erin Wynia, Chief Legislative Counsel – North Carolina League of Municipalities; Angie Bailey, Assistant Director – Broadband Infrastructure Office – NC Department of Information Technology
5G, fiber, and broadband are increasingly common terms being used today. But what are they, and how will they affect your community? In this panel presentation and discussion, attendees will learn about 5G technology, legal implications, customer service issues, safety, and more. Then hear from experts focused on expanding broadband availability in communities of all sizes. Learn how ElectriCities members have an advantage over other municipalities in providing broadband to their citizens, what you can do in your community to expand coverage and engage in partnerships, and where the industry and legislature may be heading in North Carolina for broadband.
9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Staffing Strategies for Public Power Utilities
Workforce Track
(Speakers to be announced)
Effective staffing for any organization or project can be a time consuming and challenging hurdle. However, not all staffing strategies have to look the same. Attendees will hear lessons learned from other Public Power utilities utilizing a variety of staffing solutions – from internal development to partnerships to outsourcing – to meet their strategic objectives.
10:30 – 10:45 a.m.
Break

Breakout Session #5: Thursday, Feb. 20, 10:45 – 11:15 a.m.

10:45 – 11:45 a.m.
Finance Breakout 5 – TBD
Finance & Customer Service Track
(Speakers to be announced)
Description to come…
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.
Roundtable: Cyber Security
Information Technology Track
Facilitator – Erika Sacco, Director IT, City of Apex; Roundtable attendees – Owen Squires, City of Albemarle, IT Director; Greg Branch, City of Morganton, IT Director
What questions do you have on Cyber Security Risk and challenges, including site preparedness? Let’s ask questions of expert staff.
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.
Battery Storage Panel
Operations Technology Track
Speakers: Andrew Foukal, CEO, East Point Energy; Rich Russell, Project Developer, East Point Energy
Panel discussion on the future of battery storage.
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.
Roundtable: City & Project Leaders
Management & Coordination Track
Moderators: Michael Peoples, City Manager – City of Gastonia; Lloyd Payne, City Manager – City of Concord
Join us for a roundtable discussion focused on city managers, utility directors, project managers, or other key utility personnel and their experiences implementing new technologies or programs for their utilities and customers. Attendees will share success stories, lessons learned, and challenges being faced today with meeting customer expectations and adapting to the rapidly changing utility industry.
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.
Building a Culture of Innovation and Learning
Workforce Track
(Speakers to be announced)
Description to come…

General Session #5: Thursday, Feb. 20, 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Lunch will be served prior to speaker
Emerging Futures: Managing & Connecting with a Changing Workforce
Keynote Speaker: Darsweil Rogers, Managing Partner, CFP Innovation
If you are a baby boomer did you know that you are now a minority in the workforce? The last millennial is already in the workforce, and the oldest millennial is about to turn 40. Our employees are changing, not only based on demographics but also on how they think. Learn how to better connect with today’s employees and manage an effective organization in this environment.
Closing Remarks
Jimmy Bagley, 2020 Connections Summit Vice Chair

All information subject to change.

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