Technical & Operations Conference

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Technical & Operations Conference

Technical & Operations Conference

Date: December 4-6, 2018
  • Day 1: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
  • Day 2: 8:30 am - 7:00 pm
  • Day 3: 8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Location: Best Western Plus Kelly Inn, 100 4th Avenue South, St. Cloud, MN 56301
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The Technical & Operations Conference (or "T & O") is the educational conference for utility Managers, Superintendents, Crew Leaders, Foreman and other interested utility personnel.

As always, this year's T & O features an exceptional educational program covering timely topics. Plus there will be plenty of opportunities to meet with old and new friends during the conference sessions and at the ever-popular Trade Show & Reception.

NEW Optional Evening Activity

Sign up to tour a local brewery! Everyone can enjoy some tasty beverages, hors d'oeuvres and for those interested in tossing a few bean bags, we'll have cornhole boards setup. Reserved for attendees of the T & O Conference only. Transportation included. Space is limited to the first 30 people so reserve your spot today! Separate registration required here. You can also print out a registration form.


Tuesday, December 4

8:30 am-1 pm  MMUA Board of Directors Meeting (State Room)

noon-4 pm  Conference Registration Open (Lobby)

1 pm  Welcome & Opening Remarks (Congress/Senate/Sunwood Ballroom)

1:15-2:45 pm  Safety First, Restoration SecondMinnesota Rural Electric Association
We hear it all the time. “How long will it take to get the power back on?” And we know accidents happen when we rush. Yet, many influences impact our actions when critical decisions are being made. Hear the personal stories of two lineworkers in Minnesota, shared through video, that experienced an accident in June 2017. We will then explore the 9 changes made by the cooperative as we answer, “Could this accident have happened at my place?” With this exercise, you will walk away with actions for making sure it doesn’t. 

3-4 pm  Cybersecurity: Understanding the Risks & Threats / APPA eReliability Tracker SystemNathan Mitchell, APPA
This session will help you better understand the challenges and can give you concrete ideas to help mitigate your cyber risk.

You will also learn the complete details about APPA's eReliability Tracker program and how it could benefit your utility. MMUA members are eligible to purchase an eReliability Tracker subscription at a reduced rate thanks to a subsidy APPA has secured from the Department of Energy. This is a limited time/quantity offer.
eReliability Tracker YouTube Channel

5-8 pm  Tour of Beaver Island Brewing — Optional Evening Activity
Join us for a tour of Beaver Island Brewing. Attendees will receive two drink tokens, hors d'oeuvres, transportation and can enjoy a fun game or two of cornhole. Cost is $30 per person. Separate registration required; limited to first 30 people. Must be registered for T & O Conference. 

Wednesday, December 5

8:30-11:20 am  Making the Utility Industry Great Again with Organizational CultureCindy Beresh-Bryant, Continuum Education + Training
Traditionally, the utility industry could count on high wages, great benefits and lifelong employment to attract and retain the best employees. But, what worked in the past is less attractive to today’s workforce. Today’s employees are more interested in the employment “experience” than tangible rewards.

Learn how to create a rewarding and fulfilling work experience that connects with employees using principles that made Southwest Airlines, Chick-fil-A, Disney, Google, and many others great. During this session you will learn:

  • Why the Secret Sauce at McDonald's doesn’t make them great.
  • How Chick-fil-A and other great companies attract and retain the cream of the candidate crop in their dog-eat-dog markets.
  • What makes Organizational Culture your ONLY competitive advantage with today’s workforce.
  • How you can apply similar principles to continue to be an employer of choice in your industry.

11:30 am-Noon  Apprentice Lineworker & Rodeo Recognitions, Mike Willetts, MMUA and Don Harbuck, Northwest Lineman College

Noon-1 pm  Luncheon (poolside)

3 pm  Vendor Setup for Trade Show (Grand Ballroom)

The afternoon program is divided into two tracks.

Manager Track

1-2 pm  Achieving Your Business Strategy Through Organizational Capability, Hiring and Onboarding, Cindy Beresh-Bryant, Continuum Education + Training
What's your talent acquisition strategy? How will you attract and retain the best employees in this highly competitive job market where loyalty is fleeting? During this session we will unlock the secrets to attract and retain top employees who are willing and prepared as an asset to help you achieve your business strategy.

During this session you will learn how to create a competitive advantage through hiring, onboarding and employee development to:

  • Ensure the Organizational Culture (OC) strategy aligns with and supports the achievement of the overall business strategy.
  • Develop and implement a talent acquisition strategy driven through and based on operational needs and the OC to ensure the right talent, at the right time is hired and thrives within the business unit.
  • Build a cross functional onboarding process based on the OC to quickly engage and assimilate new employees.

2-2:45 pm  Panel Discussion—Creating a Roadmap for Competitive Lineworker WagesTroy Adams, Elk River Municipal Utilities; Dale Narlock, Thief River Falls Municipal Utilities; and Steve Johnson, Marshall Municipal Utilities

3-3:45 pm  Electric Service Issues: Analysis and DevelopmentsMark Fritsch, Owatonna Public Utilities and Steve Downer, MMUA
Electric service territory issues continue to trouble municipal electric utilities around the state. A subcommittee of the MMUA Grow With Your City Committee recently conducted a fresh analysis of territory compensation and negotiating strategies. MMUA also prepared background information on several territory-related issues. These materials have been vetted and put into use. Mark Fritsch and Steve Downer will share their experiences and work products with you.

‚Äč4-4:45 pm  Vendor Showcase
This session will give you a rapid-fire look at the latest in goods and services for the utility industry. We give each participating vendor up to 5 minutes to present their information. This is a great opportunity to learn about new products and services. Vendors must be an Associate member of MMUA.

5-7 pm  Trade Show & Reception (Grand Ballroom)
Be sure to join us for our product show. There is always a lot of good information changing hands at the show. This is a great place to see what's new to the industry and provides an opportunity to make new connections.

Crew Leader/Foreman Track

1-1:45 pm  Suspension TraumaJared Oscarson, Ready Responders
Being ejected from a truck bucket while wearing a properly fitting full body harness greatly improves your odds of survival when compared to being in a “body belt” but you are still in grave danger if left suspended for any length of time. If left hanging in your harness for too many minutes, you run the risk of severe injury from suspension trauma. Join us to learn how to keep from being injured by your safety equipment.

2-2:45 pm  Team Communications in a High-Noise Environment, Merrick Wells, Sonetics Corp.

3-3:45 pm  APPA Safety Smart Video ProjectMike Willetts, MMUA
MMUA, with the support of an APPA DEED grant, has been given the opportunity to redevelop the APPA Safety Smart Video series into a more modern format. MMUA was involved in the original project when it was initiated more than 20 years ago, so it seemed natural that MMUA would help with the next generation of Safety Training Videos. Participants will see previews of several videos, with an explanation of the concept and delivery behind each topic,

4-4:45 pm  Vendor Showcase
This session will give you a rapid-fire look at the latest in goods and services for the utility industry. We give each participating vendor up to 5 minutes to present their information. This is a great opportunity to learn about new products and services. Vendors must be an Associate member of MMUA.

5-7 pm  Trade Show & Reception (Grand Ballroom)
Be sure to join us for our product show. There is always a lot of good information changing hands at the show. This is a great place to see what's new to the industry and provides an opportunity to make new connections.

Thursday, December 6

8:30-9:30 am  Fire at the Power Plant—Now What? Paul Twite, Delano Municipal Utilities and Tom Ewert, MMUA
On July 10, 2018, a fire broke out in the ceiling of a generation plant. On that day, Delano Municipal Utilities employees showed up to work like every other day. The day went on as planned—until everything changed.

We will go through the events and timelines of things that took place from the time of the fire to now. We’ll talk about some of the things that we knew needed to be done and some of the items we learned as the process unfolded.

10-10:45 am  Cold Weather RuleSally Anne McShane, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s Consumer Affairs Office will be presenting on Cold Weather Rule. Cold Weather Rule protects residential customers who are struggling to pay their heat-affected utility bill and to prevent a disconnection of service in the winter months. This informational session will go over Minnesota Statute 216B.097 and best practices when applying Cold Weather Rule.

10:45 am-noon  MMUA Update, MMUA Staff

noon  Conference Adjourns

Hotel Information

Best Western Plus Kelly Inn, 100 4th Avenue South, St. Cloud, MN 56301

MMUA has secured a room rate of $97 per night + tax. Use our special link for online reservations. You can also call the hotel directly at 320.253.0606 and ask for MMUA's room block. Cut off date is November 20, 2018. After that date, reservations are accepted on a space available basis at prevailing rates.

Events for Associate Members

TRADE SHOW: Associate members can have a booth at the trade show to be held on December 5. Reserve your spot by clicking HERE. This one fills up fast so don't delay!

SPONSOR: We also have an opportunity for Associate members to sponsor events at the T & O Conference. We will post a sign at the event site with your company's logo and have you listed in the official conference program. To become a sponsor, click HERE and scroll down to the list of T & O Conference events.

HOSPITALITY: How about hosting a hospitality suite? Call Kelly Inn Sales Department at 320.258.8404 or email Lindsay Latterell for more information. Kelly Inn does not allow you to bring in food items from outside the hotel.

Registration Fees

Conference for Members: $465 per person if registered by November 12.
Registration fee includes tuition, materials, refreshment breaks, lunch on Wednesday and admission to the Reception and Trade Show. Registration fee will increase $50 on November 13. 
Deadline to register is November 20, 2018.

Beaver Island Brewery Tour: $30 per person
Registration fee includes transportation, two drink tokens, hors d'oeuvres and cornhole toss (if interested in playing). This tour is reserved for attendees of the T & O Conference only. The brewery tour requires separate registration. You will find more details and can register on this pageLimited to 30 participants
Deadline to register is November 20, 2018, or until sold out.


MMUA will issue a refund, minus $30 per person processing fee, if notified of cancellation by 4:30 pm on November 20, 2018. No refunds issued after November 20.

Conference Brochures

printable copy of the conference brochure is available.
Associate members can print a copy of the brochure for the trade show, reception, sponsoring and hosting hospitality suites.


By registering for this conference, I/we the registered attendee(s), authorize Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA) to photograph me at this event and use such photographs in MMUA marketing pieces (both electronic and print). I understand that I will not be paid for giving this consent.


If you have questions, please contact Rita Kelly at 763.746.0707 or

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Thank You, Annual Sponsors

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Video Captures 2016 Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo

We now have a 4-minute rodeo recap video of the 2016 Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo, live on the MMUA YouTube channel.  It features great footage and interviews with a number of key players in the event.  The April 2 event was hosted by Shakopee Public Utilities and MMUA, and brought together lineworkers from across the country. Watch this video and enjoy reliving that amazing day.  Be sure to bundle up before you click!