Technical & Operations Conference - Rescheduled

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Technical & Operations Conference - Rescheduled

Technical & Operations Conference - Rescheduled

Date: January 18-20, 2022
  • Day 1: Jan 18, 2022 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • Day 2: Jan 19, 2022 8:30 am - 7:00 pm
  • Day 3: Jan 20, 2022 8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Location: Best Western Plus Kelly Inn, 100 4th Avenue South, St. Cloud, MN 56301
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MMUA's T & O Conference has been RESCHEDULED for January 18-20, 2022. Watch for further updates as we continue to re-build the program.

Members who previously registered for the December conference dates will automatically be transferred to the new date. No need to register again. You will need to rebook with the hotel if lodging is required, however. See new link below. 

The Technical & Operations Conference (or "T & O") is a not-to-be-missed event for Managers, Crew Leads, Lineworkers and others. This is the perfect venue to join fellow public power professionals to hear interesting speakers on timely topics, participate in discussions, share ideas and connect with friends old and new.

Check out the great lineup of speakers, presentations and topics that will be covered during this year's T&O! Plus learn about new products and services and speak with supplier representatives during the Vendor Showcase and Trade Show.

Program Details*

Tuesday, January 18

Noon-4:00 pm  Conference Registration Open (Lobby)

1:00 pm  Welcome & Opening Remarks, Mike Willetts, MMUA (Grand Ballroom)

1:15-3:00 pm  The Energized Approach for Creating a Safe, Healthy and Productive WorkplaceMichael Melnik
There are 3 certainties in life...Death, Taxes...and Change! Organizations spend an abundance of time, money and resources to drive positive changes in the workplace. All too often these efforts fall short of expectations. There is hope! In most cases the problem isn’t the change itself, it’s the environment into which the change is introduced and the methods used to introduce, implement and support this change. In "The Energized Approach" Michael introduces the 10 energy sources that are critical for success and offers time-tested strategies to minimize resistance maximize participation and create the energy that is essential for success.

3:00-4:00 pm  Let's Talk: Group Discussion on Mutual Aid and More, Facilitator: Mike Willetts, MMUA
This year we’ve scheduled time to talk through some relevant topics that have been requested by the membership. One subject up for discussion is the possibility of developing a lineworker/worker reimbursement structure that would serve as the standard for mutual aid/storm jobs. Other topics could include linework best practices for grounding, testing and rubber goods, or any other topic participants wish to discuss.

Wednesday, January 19

8:30-9:45 am  Grand Rapids Public Utilities Solar Plus Battery Storage Project: Experience and Implications, Julie Kennedy and Jeremy Goodell, Grand Rapids Public Utilities     NEW

10:00-11:30 am Topical Roundtables     NEW
Join a facilitated discussion on one of several subjects of interest.

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

Noon-1:00 pm  Luncheon

Two Breakout Session Options: Managers Track or Crew Leaders/Foremen Track

Managers Track

1:00-2:30 pm  What is Your Experience Modification (e-mod) Factor and Why is it Important to Your Utility/City? Katie Winge and Julie Jelen, League of Minnesota Cities (LMC)
Understanding how your e-mod is calculated and how it applies to your LMC insurance premium can help you determine if your utility/city’s loss prevention efforts are effective and capturing maximum cost savings.

2:45-3:15 pm  MMUA's On-Site / On-Demand 4-Year Apprenticeship Program: What's Making This Program So Successful? Mike Willetts, MMUA
MMUA’s apprenticeship program has become a perpetual standard for many of our members, and interest continues to grow each year. James and Mike will cover the program in depth, and respond to any questions. You’ll also hear first-hand from a few utilities currently enrolled in the program.

3:15-4:00 pm  The Benefits of a Workplace Wellness Program, Mark Hottel, MMUA Safety Contractor
Most managers would agree that employee wellness-type programs probably can boost productivity and help control costs. Many would know of major companies that have had success with wellness programs. But deep down we suspect that creating and sustaining a wellness program in the public utility world might be harder than it sounds. That can be true, however, the rewards are greater than the risks. We will examine the benefits and ways to get something started that will be a win/win for all involved.

Crew Leaders/Foremen Track

1:00-1:45 pm  Crane & Derrick Standard—Revisited. Is Your Digger Derrick Exempt From OSHA's Crane Standard? Jim Olson, Terex Utilities
Are you using your digger derrick for utility construction? If so, it’s important to consider how OSHA’s construction crane standard may affect you and your equipment. OSHA made an exclusion for digger derricks that perform certain types of utility construction work. However depending on the type of work you’re doing, OSHA may consider it a crane per 29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC, Cranes and Derricks in Construction.

1:45-2:30 pm  Switchgear Options & Limiting Systems Operations, Steve Bode, Irby Utilities and Scott Vergin, Energy Product Sales     NEW
Switchgear has evolved since the 1950’s from line ups of oil filled breakers to pad-mounted fuse cabinets to solid dielectric resettable interrupters. Along the way several improvements have been made to improve reliability, safety, capacity, operations and aesthetics. The presenters will also discuss advancements in the overhead electrical system to improve reliability and save operational costs.

2:45-3:30 pm  Tick and Lyme Disease Prevention, Brian Anderson, The Tick Terminator
Annually in the U.S., approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported by health professionals to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Several states—including Minnesota and Wisconsin—fall into the CDC’s “High Incidence” category. Whether you’re working or playing in the great outdoors, it’s important to understand the facts about ticks and how to avoid or even prevent a tick bite, to help minimize your risk of contracting Lyme disease.

3:30-4:00 pm  Writing New Bucket/Derrick Truck Specifications, Ryan Scharnott and Troy Cappel, Altec, Inc.
Even if you’re not directly involved with spec’ing your next bucket/digger, it will be helpful to understand the process as our input as an end-user may be solicited to help fine-tune the specifications. Increase your understanding of the process, plus gain valuable insight from Ryan and Troy.

‚Äč4:00-4:45 pm  Vendor Product Showcase
This session offers a rapid-fire look at the latest goods and services for the utility industry.

5:00-7:00 pm  Trade Show & Reception
The ideal venue to meet with your suppliers, learn about new products & services, and catch up with colleagues from around the state while enjoying complimentary beverages and hors d'oeuvres.

Thursday, January 20

8:30-9:45 am  Culture of CareSpencer Beach
By all intents and purposes, one would think employees, trades and contractors would embrace safety policies. Especially as the goal of these policies are to prevented harm to them. The logical conclusion dictates the employees, trades and contractors would be the leaders driving these policies. Far too often though we find safety is quickly sacrificed when there is a “rush job,” habitual shortcuts to the SOPs become “the way we do things” and sometimes, some people forgo or resist the safety policy every chance they can.

Join Spencer as he relives his own incident that permanently changed his life from severe burns. After surviving a 5% chance to live Spencer has devoted his professional growth to understanding workers behaviors, why we do what we do (or don’t do) and what is the company’s culture function from a worker’s perspective. Culture of Care will have you see safety in a new way. A way that will combine workers behaviors to the OSHA regulations and company policies.

10:00-11:00 am  Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 2021: What's in it for Municipal Utilities? Kent Sulem, MMUA     NEW
This session is intended to provide the most up-to-date information MMUA has regarding the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill recently signed into law by President Biden. Issues to be addressed include: new vs. previously authorized money; how much funding is likely headed to Minnesota; what hoops must be jumped through to get any of the money; when can we expect to start seeing funds arrive in Minnesota and who will have oversight of the money.

11:00 am-12:00 pm  DERs & EVs—Where They Are and Issues to be Thinking About. Karleen Kos and Kent Sulem, MMUA     NEW
This session will provide an overview of where customer-owned renewable generation and electric vehicles are scattered across the state, according to recent state data, as well as the latest issues relating to both.

12:00 pm  Conference Adjourns

*Schedule/program subject to change without notice.

Location / Hotel Information

Best Western Plus Kelly Inn
100 4th Avenue South, St. Cloud, MN 56301
Phone: 320.253.0606

Note: All reservations made for the original December conference dates were cancelled. You will need to rebook if lodging is required.

MMUA has secured a reduced room rate of $99 per night + tax. The hotel would prefer you use our special link for online reservations. The hotel's direct number is 320.253.0606 should you need to call. Be sure to ask for MMUA's room block.

The hotel block closes on January 17, 2022, however, the hotel may continue to accept reservations after the cut-off date on a space available basis, at prevailing rates. Please make your hotel reservations as soon as possible as availability is limited and cannot be guaranteed

Events for Associate Members

TRADE SHOW:  Associate members who previously registered for the December trade show date will automatically be transferred over to the new date. No need to register again. The trade show is being re-opened up to all associate members. For more information or to register, see our Trade Show page. 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 your company will be listed in the conference program. To sponsor an event, go to the Become a Sponsor page and scroll down to the item you wish to purchase.

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 and beverage items from outside the hotel.

Registration Fee

Conference for Members:  $465 per person if registered by January 3, 2022.
Registration fee covers tuition, materials, refreshment breaks, lunch on Wednesday and admission to the Reception and Trade Show. Registration fee will increase $50 on January 4. 
Deadline to register is January 7, 2022.

Must be a MMUA member to register for this event. Members who previously registered for the December trade show date will automatically be transferred to the new date. No need to register again. 


Cancellations are subject to a $30 charge per person if received by 4:30 pm on January 7, 2022. No refunds issued after January 7.


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.


Contact Rita Kelly by emailing or by calling 763.746.0707.


Get a printable conference registration form here.