RMEL e-Newsletter August 2016
From the Desk of Richard Putnicki, Executive Director, RMEL
RMEL Sees Gold Medal Summer as the Torch is Carried into an Exciting Fall Lineup
The results are in...the 2016 summer RMEL events, individual presentations and content are going down in history as gold medal educational conferences and workshops. On a scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest level of satisfaction, these scores don't disappoint. Thanks to the judging panel of RMEL event attendees for continued RMEL participation. Last week, we wrapped a successful Transmission Project Management Workshop and the month of July featured the 2016 Plant Management, Engineering and Operations Conference in El Paso, Texas, and the Field and Engineering Customer Service Conference here in Colorado. Closing out the summer, we have Rockies baseball and a Safety Roundtable leading us into RMEL's signature Fall Convention and an awesome lineup of events to round out 2016.
Team RMEL Gains Three New Board Members
We are excited to welcome John Coggins, Sr. Director, Salt River Project, Deb Schaneman, Chief Compliance Officer, Platte River Power Authority and Ken Wilmot, VP, Power Production, Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc., to RMEL's Board of Directors. Mike Hummel, Associate General Manager & Chief Power System Executive, SRP, is passing the torch to John. Jackie Sargent, former General Manager & CEO, Platte River Power Authority, is cheering on Deb as Jackie was recently named General Manager at Austin Energy. Ken is the first RMEL Board member to represent AECI.
Thank you to Mike and Jackie for your tremendous service to RMEL. Your level of engagement and your thought-provoking and energetic contributions have been instrumental to the success of both RMEL and the RMEL Foundation. We look forward to working with the rising stars, John, Deb and Ken!
RMEL Volunteering at Colorado Rockies Game to Benefit RMEL Foundation Scholarships
Limited volunteer spots available - email Ashleigh Iverson at
Look for RMEL volunteers helping out at the Friday, August 19th Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago Cubs game (in return the Rockies will donate $500 to the RMEL Foundation Scholarship Program)! There are still some volunteer spots available! Email Ashleigh Iverson at
will be handing out the game's promotional item, the Fan Friday Player Lapel Pin, before the game at the various ballpark gates. RMEL volunteers will need to be at Coors Field around 2:30 pm to check in and get instructions before we start distributing the promotional item. For your time, each volunteer will receive a Rockies t-shirt and a ticket to that day's game! Just another way to support our industry and the Foundation Scholarship program, not to mention, the opportunity to enjoy an iconic American pastime....and one of the hottest teams in baseball, the Colorado Rockies!
Safety Roundtable - August 2016
Safety is paramount, and the RMEL Safety Roundtables are one of my favorite events. This simple, free roundtable kicks off with a presentation and then it's an open discussion in a trusted environment of RMEL members. We are excited to feature Fred Bonewell, Vice President Enterprise & Public Safety, CPS Energy, as our key presenter for the August Safety Roundtable. His presentation will focus on integrating safety into daily work with success and CPS Energy's 5-year steady recordable incident rate decline. Join us August 26, 2016, at Western Area Power Administration's Electric Power Training Center in Golden, CO.
An American Power Classic - the 2016 RMEL Fall Convention
The 2016 RMEL Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention will celebrate the strong history of American power while also exploring strategies to continue keeping the lights on affordably and reliably for customers. We don't know what's going to happen in November. We do know that now is the time to build momentum around relationships, strategic discussions and technology so we can move forward together as an industry. This executive-level convention will feature electric utility CEOs, industry experts and thought-provoking messages. Be there September 11-13, 2016, at the J.W. Marriott in Summerlin, NV.
Planning Session: 2017 Spring Conference
What is your biggest challenge right now? What is a recent success at your company? You live in the electric energy world and your daily challenges can fuel the solution-driven content at the 2017 Spring Conference. The
2017 Spring Management, Engineering & Operations Conference Planning Session
on September 29, 2016, is your opportunity to share ideas for topics covered at next year's Spring Management, Engineering & Operations Conference. This collaborative half-day meeting will last from 8:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. There has never been a more important time to get involved with RMEL educational planning. Your opinion about the direction of the Spring Conference will be heard at this planning session. All members are invited and encouraged to participate and bring ideas or names of possible speakers. This meeting is crucial in the development of next year's Conference agenda and topics.
Mark your calendar for the 2017 Spring Conference in Omaha, Nebraska, May 21-23, 2017!
Distribution Engineers Workshop
Engineers and designers involved in distribution will want to attend the 2016 Distribution Engineers Workshop October 5-6, 2016, in Lone Tree, CO. In addition, supervisory or management personnel who desire a review of distribution practices and standards, or who are new to power distribution, will benefit from this course. The workshop offers a unique opportunity to hear from a wide range of utilities and services and supplier companies.
Renewable Planning and Operations Conference
The Renewable Planning and Operations Conference, set for October 13, 2016, is focused on generation and transmission renewable issues related to planning, integration, operations and new technologies. Presenters will discuss renewables such as wind, solar and biomass energy. The conference will also cover regulatory and policy issues.
Electric Energy Environmental Conference
Discuss Clean Power Plan Generation and Transmission Impacts at RMEL's Electric Energy Environmental Conference November 2-3, 2016, in Lone Tree, CO. This conference will explore aspects of the ever-changing environmental regulations related to generation, transmission and distribution.
Practical Applications of the 2017 NESC Workshop
The new 2017 edition of the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC), published in August 2016 by the IEEE is the national standard for safety in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of electric and communication systems. The two-day Practical Applications of the 2017 NESC Workshop program provides critical information for utility and contractor employees, as well as others who are responsible for safety. Attend this event November 9-10, 2016, in Lone Tree, CO.
Last week, the 2016 Summer Olympic Opening Ceremonies ignited exciting competition on the world stage in Rio. I hope you all take Olympic-size pride in the electric grid that stands solid behind the powerhouse that is Team USA. Thank you for the service you all provide!
EDUCATION AND UPCOMING EVENTS
Don't Miss These Upcoming RMEL Events
RMEL MEMBER INFORMATION
Join RMEL's Groups on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook
RMEL's trusted network is now accessible on
. These are forums intended for RMEL members only. Working side by side in a cooperative manner, RMEL members band together for the common goal of bettering the industry and improving service for utility customers. For more than 100 years, these key principles have proven successful and more importantly are tried and true methods for building strong business relationships.
RMEL Champions is a prestigious group of RMEL supporters with access to useful and beneficial promotional opportunities.
to see a list of the 2016 RMEL Champions.
WELCOME NEW MEMBER
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted Apple Energy LLC - a recently-created Apple subsidiary - the right to sell energy generated from its solar facilities into wholesale markets. The Commission decided that Apple Energy doesn't pose a risk of hiked energy prices, Bloomberg reported. Sales can officially begin on Saturday. Filings for Apple Energy list several assets, including a 130-megawatt solar farm near San Francisco, a 50-megawatt facility in Arizona, and another 19.9 megawatts in Nevada.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth District has handed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Oklahoma, Luminant Generation and other parties a key victory against regional haze standards being implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On July 15, the 5th Circuit issued a 48-page ruling on two important motions in the State of Texas' and industry petitioners' challenge to EPA's regional haze rulemaking for Texas and Oklahoma. The court granted the state and industry petitioners' motion to stay the rule pending resolution of the petitions for review on the merits.
Con Edison is employing a number of options for putting off a construction bill that could bounce over a billion very easily. One of the most interesting is a recent auction they had to get some demand response promises on the books. The overall program to keep that substation build away is known as the Brooklyn-Queens Neighborhood Program. Last week, it took the first step in a novel approach to balancing out future heavy summer energy demand--namely, that auction for commitments. According to Con Ed, the auction itself was simple. A list of previously approved "demand response providers" told the utility just how much cash they'd want for pulling down energy use at various peak times.
The North American Electric Reliability Corp. signed an administrative agreement with the European Commission's Directorate General for Energy to collaborate on grid reliability in Brussels on July 14. The agreement recognizes the shared interest of NERC and DG Energy in grid reliability in the face of emerging challenges. "Reliability risks are not unique to North America," said Gerry Cauley, president and chief executive officer at NERC. "It is important to share our experiences in North America and learn from the experiences of others. I am pleased that we have this opportunity to expand our collaboration with our colleagues at the European Commission."
Working natural gas storage inventories posted a rare summer net withdrawal of 6 billion cubic feet (Bcf) for the week ending July 29, 2016, according to EIA's Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report. Record-high consumption of natural gas for electric power generation drove this withdrawal. Although withdrawals in the summer are not unprecedented, and happen regularly in the South Central storage region, the last time a net withdrawal in July occurred on a national basis was in summer 2006. This net withdrawal brings total inventories to 3,288 Bcf, or about 16% higher than the previous five-year average (2011-15).
The New York State Public Service Commission has approved New York's Clean Energy Standard, the most comprehensive and ambitious clean energy mandate in the state's history. The Clean Energy Standard will require 50 percent of New York's electricity to come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030, with an aggressive phase in schedule over the next several years. In its initial phase, utilities and other energy suppliers will be required to procure and phase in new renewable power resources starting with 26.31 percent of the state's total electricity load in 2017 and grow to 30.54 percent of the statewide total in 2021. The Clean Energy Standard will cost less than $2 a month to the average residential customer's bill, according to the PSC.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the selection of eight new research and development projects to receive a total of $11.5 million in federal funding under DOE's Subsurface Technology and Engineering Research, Development, and Demonstration Crosscut initiative. The new projects are focused on furthering geothermal energy and carbon storage technologies, and will be funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) and the Office of Fossil Energy's (FE) Carbon Storage program.
A new automated power restoration system is turning the lights back on for PPL Electric Utilities customers in minutes, even before a work crew has made repairs. The system led to significantly shorter power outages for thousands of homes and businesses in two recent rounds of thunderstorms. The PPL smart grid uses advanced technology that includes pole-top sensors to detect outages, a central computer that quickly analyzes the problem, and remote-control switches that reroute power and restore many affected customers to service.
There won't be a voter measure about rooftop solar electricity rates on the statewide ballot in Nevada in November, following a ruling Thursday from the state Supreme Court. The seven-member court bluntly rejected proposed Question 5 as fundamentally flawed, ruling unanimously that a description of the referendum that backers provided for voters was "inaccurate," "misleading" and "argumentative." The justices faulted the ballot description for "using terms that are not in the statutory language, such as 'green energy,'" claiming that rooftop solar rates and charges set by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission were "unaffordable and cost-prohibitive," and saying that passage of the measure would allow for "reasonable" rates.
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), in partnership with ROCSPOT, a Rochester, New York-based community organization, issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop at least 16MW of solar generation to provide access to this zero-emission source of clean energy. The project is expected to be among the nation's first set of community-scale solar installations located in the community of its end users, versus a centralized location typically used for utilityscale solar infrastructure.
The United Mine Workers of America is holding a series of meetings with coal miners this week to go over details of a new contract agreement. The UMWA says the meetings concern a tentative agreement with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, which is made up of many Murray Energy coal mine operations. The first will take place Tuesday at Wesbanco Arena in Wheeling. The next will occur Wednesday at Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown. The last meeting will take place Thursday at Centerville Senior Center in Centerville, Ohio. Only active and retired dues-paying UMWA members and spouses are invited. The UMWA says details of the proposed agreement will be released Friday after a ratification vote.
Temperatures near triple-digits this week are a reminder that Austin has one of the most generous customer assistance programs in the nation to help residents in financial need with their utility bills.
Citizens and stakeholders have a voice on how their city-owned utilities are run and help the Austin City Council set policies for customer assistance programs. The Affordable Energy Policy Summit took place on July 12. More than 200 social service providers from non-profit agencies attended the event to partner with the utilities to ensure best practices for serving residents.
During an Arizona summer, monsoon storms can bring high winds and microbursts that have historically delivered enough force to knock power lines and poles to the ground. Last week during a storm in New Jersey, a woman unfortunately was killed when she attempted to get out of her vehicle after power lines fell onto her car. Safety is the number one priority, and APS wants to ensure customers are aware of important safety practices during monsoon season.
Restoration work continues as APS crews are on day three of repairing the power grid and replacing 155 power poles following Friday's colossal monsoon storm. At the height of the storm, more than 26,000 APS customers were without power - 90 percent of whom were restored within the first 12 hours. APS began to mobilize crews early Friday amid reports that monsoon activity was headed toward the valley. By 8:30 p.m. Friday, high winds and heavy rain pummeled the Phoenix-metro area, knocking 155 power poles to the ground - all located in the West Valley.
The 300 megawatts of power soon to be generated by 159 wind turbines in Stark and Hettinger counties won't necessarily power homes and businesses in North Dakota or any other specific place, power purchaser Basin Electric Power Cooperative says. Basin Electric will take the energy produced and put it into the energy grid. "The grid is like a network," said Matthew Stoltz, Basin Electric manager of transmission services. "We inject power into the grid. But once it's injected, it's like a spiderweb and the power just flows, via the laws of physics, to where it's consumed."
Ed Kelley, CPS Energy's Board of Trustees Chair, announced that after a nine-month nationwide search, the Board has selected Paula Gold-Williams as its president & CEO. Gold-Williams has been serving as interim CEO since November 2015, shortly after Doyle Beneby resigned from the post. Beginning last September, the CPS Energy Board engaged in an extensive recruitment process to identify a new CEO, utilizing national executive search firm Korn Ferry. "Paula has done an outstanding job in her nine months as interim president & CEO and has provided solid operational guidance, strategic agility, and a renewed focus on customer and employee engagement during the transition," said Kelley. "She is a highly impressive talent known for her inclusive leadership style, her "People First" philosophy, and for building high performing, collaborative teams."
El Paso Electric (EPE) (NYSE: EE) celebrates a milestone as the only utility in Texas and New Mexico to generate electricity 100 percent coal-free. By eliminating the coal generation from the company's portfolio and increasing its investment in utility-scale solar, EPE is avoiding releasing more than two billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is the equivalent to taking 190,000 cars off the road or planting 20 million trees.
KCP&L announced the opening of its first solar power facility in Greenwood, Mo., just 30 miles southeast of Kansas City Mo. This more than 12-acre facility is located at KCP&L's Greenwood Energy Center, a natural-gas power plant that's used at peak demand times. This new facility houses 11,500 ground-mounted solar panels, which is almost 100-times larger than the KCP&L solar array at Kauffman Stadium. Additionally, these solar panels will produce 4,700 megawatt-hours of energy each year, enough to power nearly 440 homes.
Lincoln Electric System customers set a new peak demand for this year on July 21, 2016, between 5 and 6 p.m., of 780 megawatts, said LES CEO Kevin Wailes. This is the highest peak for 2016, approaching the all-time record peak of 786 MW that was set Aug. 1, 2011. Preliminary numbers show peak electricity demand to be 750 MW. Wailes stated that temperatures have been hot across the service area for a few weeks. He said depending on weather over the remainder of the summer, peaks could continue to increase.
In keeping with its mission of providing affordable, reliable, environmentally sensitive energy services, the Omaha Public Power District is making great strides toward its renewable energy and demand-side management goals. At its monthly meeting, the OPPD Board of Directors accepted the monitoring report for Board Policy: Strategic Directive-7, relating to environmental stewardship. The report shows 20 percent of the district's projected retail energy sales will come from renewable energy sources by the end of 2016, and the district is on track to surpass 30 percent by 2018.
Governor Matt Mead accompanied Rocky Mountain Power officials to the former site of the Dave Johnston coal mine to view the completed reclamation project and the current site of the Glenrock and Rolling Hills wind farms. While this 11-mile tract of land produced coal from 1958-2000 to generate electricity for customers, the same land has been restored to its natural state and is producing energy using a renewable Wyoming resource - wind. The governor's visit signals the ultimate completion of reclamation efforts on the site.
Salt River Project has selected Alaina Chabrier as the company's new Chief Communications Executive and associate general manager of Marketing & Communications. Chabrier, who was most recently Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications at HonorHealth, assumed her new duties at SRP on August 1. Prior to her position at HonorHealth, Chabrier was Vice President of Strategic Planning & Marketing for the John C. Lincoln Health Network and Director of Marketing & Public Relations for national health care management company Schaller Anderson, Incorporated. Her career background also includes working for branding and marketing agencies in Los Angeles and Boston.
Empire District began its annual aerial inspection of Company transmission lines and substations on August 8. The inspection is expected to continue through August 19; however the length of the program is dependent upon weather and wind conditions. The aerial inspection process uses a low-flying helicopter to survey 1,280 miles of transmission line throughout Empire's service territory. The survey focuses on identifying potential problems with transmission structures, hardware, conductors and vegetation. The process uses a high resolution infrared imaging system to detect potential equipment issues that may go undetected in a typical visual inspection.
Bill Alsdorf, Operation Round-Up Board Member, Heidi Storz, United Power Marketing and Communications Coordinator and Bob Grant, United Power Board Member, were honored as Community Heroes by the Brighton Chamber of Commerce on July 14. Individuals were honored for contributing their time, talent and resources to providing for the needs of the Brighton community.
Landowners and local leaders this morning celebrated the beginning of construction of the Kingman Wind Energy Center near Kingman. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback participated in the event along with dozens of local landowners, officials and company representatives. Attendees signed a 150-foot wind turbine blade that will be used in the project. "Wind energy creates good, high-paying jobs and produces millions of dollars in payments to landowners and local government which directly benefit schools, roads and essential services," said John DiDonato, vice president of wind development for NextEra Energy Resources. "This is a project the community can be proud of - one that will help sustain Kingman County economically and provide clean, renewable energy for generations of Kansans to come."
The next evolution of energy industry changes and market developments has arrived. Western Area Power Administration is using innovation and collaboration to address the impacts of the changing energy landscape. During its second "Discussion on Markets" meeting, June 30, WAPA senior power marketing staff and other industry experts presented the latest updates on market studies, market strategies and industry changes to WAPA customers for consideration and focused conversation.
Washington State University researchers have determined a key step in improving solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), a promising clean energy technology that has struggled to gain wide acceptance in the marketplace. The researchers determined a way to improve one of the primary failure points for the fuel cell, overcoming key issues that have hindered its acceptance. Their work is featured on the cover of the latest issue of Journal of Physical Chemistry C.