Energy Utility Basics 2017

October 9, 2017 @ 8:00 am – October 13, 2017 @ 12:00 pm
The Pyle Center
University of Wisconsin: Pyle Center
702 Langdon St, Madison, WI 53706
Cara Lee Mahany Braithwait

Endorsed by NARUC 


32 CEUs are available.  11.5 WI CLEs have been granted.


 Energy Utility Basics is an intensive course on the fundamental concepts critical to being conversant in today’s energy industry. Course content is updated yearly as technology, regulation, competition and markets evolve.  WPUI has proudly presented this exceptional course each fall since 1983.

Course Summary: Over four and a half days, participants will receive an introduction to the electric and natural gas industries, insights into regulatory decision-making, and an analysis of the current issues facing both industries.  The dedicated gas course begins Thursday at noon and continues until mid-day Friday

Benefits: Attendees will obtain practical knowledge of the operations and technology of the natural gas and electricity industries from extraction, whether from the ground or renewables, to the customer’s bill. Course registration covers a field trip to a power plant, daily lunches and breaks, and printed course materials. University of Wisconsin Extension has made 32 CEUs available. 11.5 CLEs have been granted for attorneys practicing in Wisconsin.

Who Should Attend: The energy industry has undergone substantial changes – including changes in hiring practices. Twenty years ago, new utility staff would start out learning the ropes by working up through the ranks. In today’s fast-moving business environment, it is often advantageous to hire staff from other industries, bringing in outside talent that doesn’t yet have a working knowledge of the energy industry. Energy Utility Basics is intended for anyone working in the energy industry, including public interest groups, legislative staff, regulatory staff, state and local government personnel. The course is for energy professionals who want a better grasp of how all the technological, financial and political pieces of the energy puzzle fit together. Registration is open to the public.

What others have said:

“I came in new to the industry wanting to learn about how energy is made, distributed, and transmitted. I am leaving with a better understanding of all that and more.”

“The good mix of speakers and audience made for an excellent atmosphere to understand a complex industry from all angles.”

“I wish I could have taken this course right away when I entered the utility industry.”

“I appreciate the care in progressively building on the modules.”

“Plenty of beneficial information, good speakers.”

“As someone with only a couple years of utility experience, this was a great foundation”

“Covered as many of the topics as possible in an entertaining and informative way – could have been very boring, but it wasn’t.  Nice work!”

“Excellent overview and well-planned program.”

“Delivery of complex information in an easy to digest manner.”

“I loved getting to see the operators and getting to touch and see how it all works at the power plant”

“Variety of speakers, all were knowledgeable and able to break down the subject matter for those with a limited knowledge of the industry.”



Draft Agenda 2017

October 9, Monday

Electricity: Industry Structure

Time Session Title Speaker(s)
7:30-8:00 Registration and welcome coffee/tea
8:00-8:20 Introduction Cara Lee Mahany Braithwait
8:20-9:45 Why a Regulated Monopoly?
Who’s regulated, why and how?
The federal and state perspective from the 1600s to 1985

  • Why a monopoly?
  • What is a public interest?
  • The role of federal-level commissions
  • The relationship between the utility and the regulator
Enrique Bacalao  Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
9:45-10:00 Break
10:00-11:15 Utility Regulation from 1985 to Today

  • Drivers of restructuring
  • Wholesale markets and open access
  • Renewables and energy efficiency
  • Pricing and rate changes
  • Current trends
Nate Zolik  Godfrey & Khan, S.C.
11:15-11:30 Break
11:30-12:30 The Public Service Commission — Roles and Rules, Balance of Power

  • PSCW authority and jurisdiction
  • Organizational structure of the PSCW
  • A Case: start to finish
Cynthia Smith  Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30 – 3:00 Utility Company Models – presentations and panel discussion

  • Utility company models – presentations and panel discussion
  • Why was this type of public service company formed?
  • What do you own and operate?
  • How are you regulated or managed (differences for transmission, generation etc.)?
  • Who are your stakeholders (stockholders for IOUs)?
  • How do you secure power?
  • How do you sell power (retail only, wholesale customers, etc.)?
  • What other services do you offer your customers?
  • Who are your customers?
Moderator:  Cara Lee Mahany Braithwait  

Brian Rude  Dairyland Power Cooperative
Andy Onesti  Manitowoc Public Utilities
3:00 – 3:15 Break  
3:15 – 4:00 The Independent System Operator

  • History
  • Responsibilities
  • Areas of influence
Midcontinent Independent System Operator
4:00 – 4:15 Break
4:15– 5:15 Transmission-The Overlooked Connection Until 1970

  • History 1970 to date
  • Order 2000 RTOs and then repair FERC Order No. 890
  • The underlying driver for FERC
  • FERC Order No. 1000 and then repair FERC Order No. 1000-A
  • “Right of first refusal” — current status
Flora Flygt  Retired Utility Executive & Advisor
5:15 Adjourn


October 10, Tuesday

Electricity: Industry Operations


Time Session Title Speaker(s)
7:30-8:00 Welcome coffee/tea
8:00-9:15 From Heat to Electricity —

How we make electricity in the U.S.

  • How much energy do we use?
  • What is the difference between energy and power?
  • Creating electricity
  • AC/DC—what does this mean?
  • How does a generator make electricity?
  • Start-up
  • Black starts
  • Who uses what
  • Cost of electricity
Jake Blanchard  UW-Madison 
9:15-9:30 Break
9:30-11:15 Field Identification Guide to the Electric Industry

  • Telling the difference between a power line
    and a phone line
  • Curtailments
  • Substations, boosters, inter-tie, DC lines
  • Line losses
  • Technical language used in the field
  • Line loading
  • Power flows
  • Buses
  • Transmission basics
  • Basics of LMP
  • Step-up & step-down
  • Congestion
  • Counterflows
Ken Copp   American Transmission Co. 
11:15-11:30 Break
11:30-12:30 A Day in the Life of a Distribution Company

  • The new responsibility (opportunity)
  • Physical characteristics
  • A typical day in 1990
  • A typical day in 2012
Merlin Raab  WEC Energy Group – Business Services
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-2:30 A Day in the Life of a Transmission Operator

  • What they do and why they do it
  • Scheduling
  • Forecasting
  • Selling into the market
  • Good days and bad days
  • Transmission investment decisions
  • Meeting renewable portfolio standards
  • Planning and cost allocation
Mike Londo  American Transmission Co.
2:30-2:45 Break  
2:45 – 3:30 Performance-based Regulation:  For the past 100 years, we have used a cost of service regulatory model.  It used the costs of building infrastructure to cover the costs for the services that kept the lights on (reliability) at a competitively efficient, affordable cost. And for this goal, it has worked well.    Now, with shrinking sales, less need for large infrastructure investments, and the additional goal of adding sustainability to the utility responsibility, it falls short.  Today the regulatory/utility goal is to provide energy with a competitively efficient, affordable, sustainable, and cleaner portfolio.  Performance-based regulation is one route to this end. Mark Lowry  Pacific Economics Group
3:30 Pick up cookies & a beverage on the way out to the bus!  
3:30 – 3:45 Travel to Charter Street Heating and Cooling Plant
3:45 – 5:30 Field Trip: Power Plant Tour  


October 11, Wednesday  

Ratemaking for Electric and Gas Companies


Time Session Title Speaker(s)
7:30-8:00 Welcome coffee/tea
8:00-9:15 What Drives Utility Stock Prices?

Steve Kihm  Seventhwave
9:15-9:30 Break
9:30-10:45 Basics of Rate Setting

  • Cost of service
Bruce Chapman  Christensen Associates Energy Consulting
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:30 Basics of Rate Setting

  • Traditional rate design
  • Dynamic pricing and rate efficiency
  • Niche designs
Bruce Chapman
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-2:45 Basics of Rate Setting: Conclusion

  • Challenge of renewables cost and pricing
Bruce Chapman
2:45-3:00 Break
3:00-3:45 Strategies for Addressing Fixed Cost Recovery Issues Dan Hansen Christensen Associates Energy Consulting
3:45 – 4:00 Break  
4:00 – 4:45 One Utility’s Response
to Changing Customer Expectations
Greg Bollom   Madison Gas & Electric
4:45 Adjourn


October 12, Thursday

    Electricity/Gas: Environmental Issues & Gas Markets


Time Session Title Speakers(s)
7:30 – 8:00 Welcome coffee/tea
8:00 – 8:45 Nuclear Future — The Base Load of the Future? Jake Blanchard 
8:45 – 9:00 Break  
9:00 –12:30 Getting Work Done with a Smaller Carbon Footprint and Enabling Technologies

Moderated by  Rich Hackner, GDS Associates

  • The History of Efficiency –  Rich Hackner  (9:00 – 9:25)
  • Wind:  Justin BarrettLakeshore Technical College (9:25 – 9:50)
  • Solar:      (TBD)     (9:50 – 10:15)
  • Biogas:   Rebecca Larson, UW-Madison   (10:15 – 10:40)
  • Break    (10:40 – 10:50)
  • Storage:   Bruce Beihoff,   UW-Madison  (10:50 – 11:15)
  • Supercritical CO2:   Mark Anderson,  UW-Madison  (11:15 – 11:40)
  • HVDC:   Bill Long, UW-Madison   (11:40 – 12:05)
  • Electrification:   Jeff Ihnen, Michaels Energy    (12:05 – 12:30)
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch  
1:30 – 3:30 Gas Markets – How Do Traders Evaluate Options?

  • What do customers pay for in a therm of gas,
    including production, pipeline and distribution?
  • Driving factors in gas prices
  • General outlook for supply
  • How has the gas market changed in the past 4 years?
  • The role of storage
  • New LNG markets and their effect on domestic pricing
  • Short and long term pricing implications
  • Price outlook caveats
Valerie Wood  Energy Solutions Inc.
3:30 – 3:45 Break
3:45-4:30 Legal Issues Facing the Utility Industry Brian Potts  Perkins Coie
4:30 Adjourn


October 13, Friday

Gas:  Status and Operations


Time Session Title Speaker(s)
7:30-8:00 Welcome coffee/tea
8:00 – 10:30 What Everyone Ought to Know About Gas

  • Where does natural gas come from?
  • What is unconventional gas?
  • How does the near-term supply look?
  • What about the future?
  • Typical composition of a gas molecule
  • How natural gas is normally used – by time of day, by coincident hourly demand, by month and by industry type
  • How efficient is natural gas as an energy source, and how clean is it compared to other fossil fuels?
  • What is the natural gas production break-even point (basin production cost per MMbtu)?
  • Big picture of historical natural gas prices
Alan Carroll  UW-Madison 
10:30 – 10:45 Break
10:45 – 11:45 A Day in the Life of a Gas Company

  • Regulatory requirements
  • Trading
  • Forecasting
  • Dispatch
Steve Weston  Alliant Energy
Matt Longmier   Alliant Energy
12:00 Adjourn







Institute Member   $1,450.00
Non-Member  $2,250.00
Government (Non-Utility)    $700.00
Non-Profit, Member    $1,200.00
Non-Profit, Non-Member    $1,550.00

Your registration fee includes printed materials, meals/breaks and access to materials on our website post-program. Certificates for the CEUs and CLE credits will be available upon request.

Accommodations: Graduate Madison

Room Rate:  $169 – $179

Deluxe Rooms includes amenities such as transportation to and from the Madison Airport, hot breakfast and more.

Parking is available for hotel guests.

Parking may be available in UW-Madison Lot 46 and in the City of Madison State Street Campus Garage at 415 N. Lake St.

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