Technical & Operations Conference

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Technical & Operations Conference

Technical & Operations Conference

Date: December 7-9, 2021
  • Day 1: Dec 7, 2021 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • Day 2: Dec 8, 2021 8:30 am - 7:00 pm
  • Day 3: Dec 9, 2021 8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Location: Best Western Plus Kelly Inn, 100 4th Avenue South, St. Cloud, MN 56301
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Pricing: $465 before Nov 12, 2021
All fees increase $50 on or after Nov 12, 2021

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, December 7

Noon-4 pm  Conference Registration Open (Lobby)

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

1:15-3 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.

3-4 pm  Let's Talk—Relevant Roundtable Group Discussion, 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, December 8

8:30-11:30 am The History and Culture of Lineworker ApprenticeshipAaron Howell, Quanta Corp.
Apprenticeships have helped build America from its early colonial beginning to the present day. With the passing of the National Apprenticeship Act of 1937, apprenticeship programs were modernized and subsequently expanded. Mr. Howell will discuss the history and explore the future of apprenticeship in the power industry.

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

Noon-1 pm  Luncheon

Two Breakout Session Options: Managers Session & Crew Leaders/Foremen Session

Managers Track

1-2:30 pm  What is Your Experience Modification (e-mod) Factor and Why is It Important to Your Utility/City? TBA, 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? James Monroe and 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 pm  The Benefits of a Workplace Wellness ProgramMark Hottel, MMUA Safety Contractor
Most managers would agree that employee wellness-type programs probably can boost productivity and control costs. You may know of major companies that have had success with their wellness programs. But deep down you 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 certainly greater than the risks. We will examine the benefits and ways to get a program started that will be a win/win for all involved.

Crew Leaders/Foremen Track

1-1:45 pm  Crane & Derrick Standard – Revisited. Is Your Digger Derrick Exempt From OSHA's Crane Standard? Jim Olson, Terex
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  Considerations of Cable Design and Reliability, Eric Thoreson, The Okonite Company
This session will give you a thorough overview of how design characteristics and the manufacturing process are critical to underground utility cable quality and reliability.

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 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.

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

5-7 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, December 9

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 SOP’s 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 am-noon  MMUA - What's New and Issues Round-UpMMUA Staff
As MMUA's 90th Anniversary year comes to a close we are excited to look ahead! Meet MMUA's new CEO, Karleen Kos, learn about the educational and networking opportunities planned for 2022 and other initiatives MMUA is involved in on behalf of the membership.

Noon  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

MMUA has secured a reduced room rate of $99 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.

The hotel block closes on November 7, 2021, 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 can have a booth at the Trade Show to be held on December 8. 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 November 11.
Registration fee covers tuition, materials, refreshment breaks, lunch on Wednesday and admission to the Reception and Trade Show. Registration fee will increase $50 on November 12. 
Deadline to register is November 22, 2021.

Must be a MMUA member to register for this event.


Cancellations are subject to a $30 charge per person if received by 4:30 pm on November 22, 2021. No refunds issued after November 22.

Conference Brochures

Printable conference brochure.
printable conference registration form .
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.


Contact Rita Kelly by emailing or by calling 763.746.0707.


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