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"Utilities of the Future" Conference in the Books

Friday, October 13, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kerry Cordray
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Municipal utilities’ brightest stars came out to shine for “Utilities of the Future”, MPUA’s 2017 Municipal Power & Utilities Assembly, September 27-29 at Tan-Tar-A Resort, at the shores of the Lake of the Ozarks. More than 300 city officials, utility managers, vendors and other attendees from Missouri and surrounding states were on hand to learn from an outstanding lineup of speakers and enjoy a few hours of fun with friends, old and new.


Download the 2017 Conference Presentations


On Thursday Sept. 28, assembly delegates were treated to thoughtful presentations and discussions focused on moving municipal utilities forward to better serve their communities. A keynote presentation featured Missouri DNR Director Carol Comer, discussing upcoming priorities for Missouri’s environmental regulatory initiatives. Other morning speakers included a roundup on utility trends from Dan Ebert of APPA’s Hometown Connections, and a discussion of the full value of a hometown utility by Ted Kelly of Burns & McDonnell. The morning wrapped up with a legislative panel discussion that included State Senator Mike Cunningham and State Representative Kevin Austin. 


After an annual luncheon to honor MPUA’s Annual Awards recipients, Michael Vigeant of GreatBlue Research presented insight into what customers think and feel about our utilities. Drew Grinch and Brittany VanMaele of Woodruff marketing firm shared practical ideas about reaching customers through online tools. And David Shorr of the Lathrop Gage law firm addressed utility needs to communicate with customers in ways reaching beyond what is required by law.


Breakout sessions to finish the day of learning focused on technology issues. Drue Merkel of Honeywell focused on integrating “smart” technology into utility operations.  Cara Shaefer of Springfield CU and Eric Hempel of Columbia Water & Light shared their experience with best practices in incorporating customer-owned solar generation systems. And Brad Luna of N-Dimension shared recent trends and issues in the field of cybersecurity.


The main hall was packed with a wide array of vendor booths at this year’s assembly. Almost one-third of those who attended the conference were exhibitors, representing companies providing services, expertise and equipment to meet municipal utility needs.  


Delegates, and associates and family members enjoyed the gathering’s receptions, meals and entertainment, including the return of a popular ‘casino night’ evening entertainment, along with guest drawings by caricature artists, and real live ‘mouse races’.  A popular ‘first’ for this year’s conference was the addition of a trapshooting activity at an area shooting range, held on Wednesday at the same time as the annual Earl Switzer Memorial Golf Tournament. 


MPUA staff are already open to your ideas and input about speakers, topics and activities for next year’s annual gathering, which returns again to Tan-Tar-A resort on Oct 3-5, 2018. 

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