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RMEL e-Newsletter July 2016

RMEL Report
From the Desk of Richard Putnicki, Executive Director, RMEL
 
It's officially summer, and I hope the heat outside is keeping the meters running! Today, I want us all to think back to summers in high school and college and think about a group of 36 2016 RMEL Foundation Scholarship recipients who are right now taking summer classes, working summer internships and thinking about their future careers in the electric energy industry. You all and everyone who has supported the RMEL Foundation for the last 16 years have helped these kids learn about this great world of opportunity that we share in this industry.  It's exciting for them, and it's exciting for us - and there is so much more that we can all to do continue growing the talent of the electric energy workforce.

Here's a short check list if you're looking for a quick way to support the RMEL Foundation:
$15,000 Raised for Scholarships at the 2016 RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament


2016 RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament 
Lowest Gross Team
You know what they say, "A bad day on the course is better than a good day in the office"!  Well, what we had was a GREAT day on the course at the annual RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament held June 15, 2016, at the Arrowhead Golf Club in Littleton, CO. The tournament raised over $15,000, which will go toward scholarships for students across the United States.  The lowest gross score
was turned in by Diane Giacomozzi, MasTec Power Corporation, Michael Miketa, MasTec Power Corporation, Patrick Mansfield, Lampson International LLC and Steve Daigh, Wirtgen Group. Each player earned a gift certificate to the Arrowhead Golf Club Pro Shop. The lowest net prize went to Sean Farrell, Siemens Energy Inc., Jeff Gragert, Xcel Energy, Brian Richter, Xcel Energy and Julian Rizo, Xcel Energy. The members of this foursome also received individual gift certificates to the Pro Shop.  
We had some great door  prizes raffled off at the event.  Special thanks to Cast Transportation for donating Broncos tickets, Sturgeon Electric for Rockies tickets, Taylor Made driver from MasTec Power Corporation, and Oakley sunglasses and a pitching wedge from Surveying and Mapping LLC, and a variety of gift cards from participating companies. Our raffle and mulligan sales alone contributed to over $2000 towards the cause! 
The Tournament was held a new location this year, the beautiful Arrowhead Golf Club in Littlleton, CO.

RMEL's next golf outing will be held in conjunction with the upcoming  2016 Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention in Summerlin, NV. The convention is scheduled for September 11-13 at JW Marriott Resort & Spa at Summerlin, with the golf event taking place at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort on the morning of Sunday, September 11 .

RMEL Volunteering at Colorado Rockies Game to Benefit RMEL Foundation Scholarships
Limited volunteer spots available - email Ashleigh Iverson at  ashleighiverson@rmel.org
ASAP if you're interested!

Look for RMEL volunteers helping out at the Friday, August 19  Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago Cubs game (in return the Rockies will donate $500 to the RMEL Foundation Scholarship Program)!
RMEL volunteers 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!
 
Help Students Pursue Electric Energy Careers

The  RMEL Foundation  provides scholarships to deserving students pursuing careers in the electric energy industry. The annual  RMEL Foundation Silent Auction  will be held on September 12, 2016 to raise funds for the scholarship endowment. The auction is part of the Monday evening reception at the  2016 RMEL Fall Convention . Over the past 16 years, 230 scholarships have been awarded totaling more than $573,000.  Your support is needed to build the endowment and to continue the Foundation's scholarship efforts. You are encouraged to  donate an item to the auction  and to attend on September 12 to bid on donated items.

Be Part of RMEL
 
Attend RMEL events, submit articles and press releases to editor@rmel.org and be part of the RMEL community as we work together to better the electric energy industry.  The Field and Engineering Customer Service Conference on July 14, will help your organization create a customer service culture. The Plant Management Engineering and Operations Conference includes a conference, roundtable and tour of El Paso Electric's Montana Power Station on July 26-27 in El Paso, TX. The Transmission Project Management Workshop is being hosted at the Western Area Power Administration Electric Power Training Center August 3-4, 2016. 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. Be there September 11-13, 2016, at the J.W. Marriott in Summerlin, NV.
 
It's been an exciting summer so far and an exciting summer for RMEL and the RMEL Foundation. Thank you for your continued support! Please keep supporting your Association! 
 
EDUCATION AND UPCOMING EVENTS
Don't Miss These Upcoming RMEL Events

Field and Engineering Customer Service Conference --- July 14, 2016 (Lone Tree, CO)
Plant Management, Engineering and Operations Conference  --- July 26-27, 2016 (El Paso, TX)
Transmission Project Management Conference  --- August 3-4, 2016 (Golden, CO)
Safety Roundtable - August 2016 --- August 26, 2016 (Golden, CO)
Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention  --- September 11-13, 2016 (Summerlin, NV)
Distribution Engineers Workshop  --- October 5-6, 2016 (Lone Tree, CO)
Renewable Planning and Operations Conference  --- October 13, 2016 (Lone Tree, CO)
Electric Energy Environmental Conference  --- November 2-3, 2016 (Lone Tree, CO)
Safety Roundtable - November 2016  --- November 4, 2016 (Fort Collins, CO)
 
RMEL MEMBER INFORMATION
Join RMEL's Groups on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook

RMEL's trusted network is now accessible on Facebook , LinkedIn and Twitter . 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. Click here to see a list of the 2016 RMEL Champions.
 
WELCOME NEW MEMBER

 
INDUSTRY INFORMATION
 
The Department of Energy (DOE) announced $68.4 million for cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects that will help to secure the safe and permanent storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) during carbon capture and storage (CCS) operations. Funding is subject to the availability of appropriations. DOE's Office of Fossil Energy, under two funding opportunity announcements (FOA), seeks cost-shared projects that will determine the feasibility of developing onshore and/or offshore geologic storage complexes capable of cumulatively accepting commercial-scale (50+ million metric tons) volumes of CO2.
 
The Michigan appeals court has upheld a 2013 decision by state regulators to allow Consumers Energy to roll out high-tech meters. The attorney general's office had challenged the utility's ability to recover the costs of the so-called smart meters. But in a 2-1 decision this week, the appeals court says state regulators relied on sufficient evidence supplied by the company. Judge Peter O'Connell wasn't swayed. In dissent, he says the Public Service Commission didn't do enough work, and the appeals court as a result can't conduct a "meaningful review." O'Connell says fellow judges Michael Gadola and Karen Fort Hood didn't follow the orders of the Michigan Supreme Court in taking a solid look at the case.
 

 
Currently, 35 nations have already embraced the benefits of deregulated, or open, energy markets. These 35 countries represent 44 percent of the world's energy consumption. China is exploring the possibility of opening their energy markets as well, which would have a significant impact. As one of the world's most rapidly growing economies with an enormous dependence on energy, China's end users stand to benefit from the ability to negotiate directly with power suppliers for lower prices.
 
EIA recently released preliminary data from its annual survey of electric generators (EIA-860), which provides information on pollution control equipment at electric power plants. A significant number of electric power plants recently installed such equipment in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). MATS establishes emissions limits for toxic air pollutants associated with coal combustion such as mercury, arsenic, and heavy metals. MATS requires all coal generators that sell power and have capacity greater than 25 megawatts (MW) to comply with specific emission limits by April 2015, although some units received extensions, as discussed below. Although hundreds of coal generators have capacities below 25 MW, those units collectively represent less than 1% of total coal capacity.
 
The $600 million Sewaren 7 will replace the existing Sewaren Switching Station with more efficient technology. The plant is set for full operations in summer 2018. PSE&G has spent $125 million over the last three years hardening and upgrading the new Sewaren Switching Station after it was devastated by Superstorm Sandy. Improvements included raising electric distribution equipment above new FEMA flood guidelines; and installing new, elevated transmission facilities needed to maintain electric system reliability.
 
Consumers Energy has developed two new specially equipped vehicles to help keep its safety promise to Michigan. The two mobile command centers were designed and outfitted to respond to any localized emergency the energy provider may face, as well as to support widespread storm restoration work. "We developed the mobile command centers to be versatile to support our diverse electric and natural gas operations," said Annette Gardiner, vice president of shared services for Consumers Energy. "These vehicles are conference rooms on wheels, where leaders can be with crews in the field with the resources needed to resolve emergencies safely and efficiently. Working together for safer communities. That's our Promise to Michigan, a promise we take to heart."
 
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 10 research projects to empower small businesses to develop technologies that allow for the nation to more wisely and efficiently use our vast fossil energy resources and sustain economic growth. The projects are funded under the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for the fiscal year 2016 SBIR/STTR Phase II Release 2 funding opportunity announcements through the DOE's Office of Science. The SBIR program increases private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from Federal research and development (R&D). STTR simulates and fosters scientific innovation and technology transfer through cooperative research and development carried out between small business concerns and research institutions.
 
Southern Co. unit Southern Power and SunPower Corp. said Southern Power has acquired a controlling interest in the 102 MW Henrietta Solar Project in Kings County, California, from SunPower, which will own the remaining interest in the project. "The acquisition of the Henrietta Solar Project underscores Southern Power's leadership in developing renewable energy," said Southern Power President and CEO Buzz Miller. "Through strategic partnerships, including with SunPower, we continue to accelerate our solar generation growth in California." The Henrietta Solar Project represents Southern Power's first joint venture with SunPower, which developed, designed and is constructing the facility and will operate and maintain it upon completion. Construction began in May 2015, and the project is expected to be fully operational in the third quarter of this year.
 
The final chapter of the Brady Wind saga has come to an end. The North Dakota Public Service Commission voted unanimously to approve NextEra Energy Resources project Brady Wind II in northern Hettinger County. The 72-turbine, 150-megawatt wind farm will begin construction immediately.  Although a separate project, Brady Wind II will connect to 87-turbine Brady Wind I in southern Stark County, which was approved on June 16 by the PSC. Both projects were met with opposition, which PSC Chairman Julie Fedorchak said she appreciated. She said that because of public input, Brady Wind II had some of the strictest setbacks the commission has seen to date.
 
Whether it's replacing poles, trimming trees away from power lines or upgrading hubs in the electric grid, Consumers Energy employees are working hard this summer to upgrade Michigan's electric system. The energy provider released figures that illustrate its work to ensure that Michigan homes and businesses receive the energy they need, whenever they need it. "Residents and business owners can count on us to deliver electricity around the clock and to work quickly to restore power when it goes out," said Mary Palkovich, Consumers Energy's vice president of energy delivery. "It's important for people to know that we're taking steps every day to strengthen Michigan's electric grid and help make sure the power stays on."
 
The U.S. Department of Labor has opened an investigation into a worker falling some 120 feet while working on a wind turbine July 3 in rural Pratt County. Preliminary information indicates two employees of Wind Composite Services Group LLC were working from a suspended work platform when it dropped, according to a release from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, whose Wichita office is investigating. The 41-year-old man fell more than 120 feet, landing on his back in a muddy field, while a second worker, suspended by his lifeline, was able to lower himself down to the platform, from where he was lowered to the ground. The worker who fell remains in critical condition at Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis. His name was unavailable.
 
The heads of state from Canada, Mexico and the United States announced a historic partnership last week that seeks to see 50% of all North American energy come from clean generation -- including hydroelectric power -- by 2025. Meeting during a one-day summit in Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said the landmark agreement was in large part spurred by the Paris Accord, which was, when signed in December, hailed by Obama as a "turning point for the world." The effort will be supported by the energy ministers from each country via the North American Climate, Clean Energy and Environment Partnership Action Plan.
 
The Santee Cooper Board of Directors authorized the utility to proceed with securing an option that substantially fixes the costs to complete two new units at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. The fixed price option is an additional benefit to an amended Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Agreement that gives greater cost and schedule certainty to customers of Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric &Gas Company (SCE&G), joint owners of the new nuclear project. The Santee Cooper board also approved the sale of $831 million in revenue obligation bonds, primarily to finance the ongoing nuclear construction project. A portion of the proceeds will be used to refinance existing utility debt.
 
 
MEMBER ANNOUNCEMENTS
 
Austin Energy, the City of Austin's electric utility, finished first among all public power utilities in the country for sales of renewable energy, according to the latest rankings from the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Austin Energy also was the only public power utility in Texas ranked in the top 10 by NREL for sales in 2015. Overall, Austin Energy finished third nationwide among all utilities with 637,462,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable energy sold. Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp., both investor-owned utilities, finished first and second, respectively.
 
Arizona Public Service announced changes in its senior leadership team at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. Bob Bement has been appointed Executive Vice President, Nuclear and will continue to report to Randy Edington, Executive Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer. Jack Cadogan, currently Vice President, Nuclear Engineering, has been named to replace Bement as Senior Vice President, Site Operations.  Maria Lacal will continue to serve as Senior Vice President, Regulatory and Oversight. Cadogan and Lacal will report to Bement. On October 31, Bement will take over as Executive Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer while Edington shifts to Executive Vice President and Advisor to the CEO.
 
Employees at Basin Electric's Leland Olds Station, located near Stanton, ND, have worked without a major workplace injury since October 2006, and the record continues to grow. Employees at the station surpassed 3 million work-hours without a DART incident on April 28. DART refers to injuries resulting in days away, restricted or transferred, and is a measure of the severity of an injury that occurs in the workplace. "The employees should be very proud of what they've accomplished," said Jamey Backus, Leland Olds plant manager. "And, it isn't just about a milestone. These men and women truly care about each other, and they want everyone to go home just as they arrive to work each day."
 
Alongside national brands like L.L. Bean and Yelp!, Forbes named Black Hills Corp. to its America's Best Midsize Employers 2016 list. The list is a subset of its "America's Best Employers of 2016." Forbes chose the top 250 midsize companies (1,000-5,000 employees) based on an independent survey of 30,000 American employees working for midsize to large firms and institutions. Forbes partnered with statistics portal Statista to conduct the survey, which was designed to determine which companies make their employees feel secure, understood, needed and inspired. The most heavily weighted question in the survey asked how likely employees would be to recommend their employer to a friend or family member.
 
Earlier today, the CPS Energy Board of Trustees made a recommendation to proceed with the selection of a new company headquarters. The final proposal was to purchase and renovate an existing building, previously owned and utilized by AT&T, located at McCullough Ave. and Avenue B in the core of downtown San Antonio. "Much goes into selecting a new corporate headquarters. Today's announcement to move forward with the McCullough property is the result of a lot of hard work and dedication from the CPS Energy team," stated Ed Kelley, Chairman, CPS Energy Board of Trustees. "This decision is in keeping with the guiding principles of staying in the downtown area, spurring economic development, and most importantly, managing the costs in a way that will not drive an increase in customer rates. The team delivered on these principles and I am delighted with this effort."
 
Helicopter-assisted crews will be conducting maintenance on Lincoln Electric System's overhead transmission lines beginning June 13, 2016. The work is scheduled to be completed in late July. The majority of the overhead line work will take place on the outskirts of Lincoln, but some maintenance will occur in more populated areas, said Nick Vanous, LES supervisor of transmission and civil design. LES has contracted with Haverfield Aviation, a national, helicopter-assisted power transmission line contractor to conduct the maintenance services.
 
Nebraska Public Power District presented an EnergyWiseSM  incentive check through its Industrial Process Incentive program Thursday to Open Range Beef of Gordon, Neb., following a review and implementation of the company's efforts to become more energy efficient. NPPD Account Manager Terry Rajewich presented a check in the amount of $10,802 to Jill Noetzelman  of Open Range Beef, following a review and implementation of improved efficiency of the company's compressed air system used in its operations. NPPD estimated that Open Range Beef would have a reduction of 154,313 kilowatt hours of electricity in their operation with a new system that has been installed and is in operation.
 
OPPD's Fort Calhoun Station (FCS) came offline safely at 8:41 a.m. Wednesday, June 22, due to a turbine trip. The system responded, as designed, by automatically shutting down the reactor safely and without incident. The plant operators followed the appropriate procedures and handled the situation as they have been trained to do. The plant is safe and there were no injuries. FCS operators are analyzing the cause of the situation, focusing on the speed and power controls of the turbine. Crews are working to resolve the issue and restore the unit to service as soon as possible. There is no risk to the public, and there is no expected impact to electrical service to homes and businesses due to this turbine trip.
 
Rocky Mountain Power is updating its popular mobile app with new features to make it easier for customers to manage their accounts from anywhere. In addition to paying bills and reporting power outages through the app, customers can now:
  • View the full billing statement (for the last six months)
  • Enroll in the Equal Pay option to pay the same amount each month
  • Choose paperless billing to save time and reduce waste
  • Learn about ways to save energy and money
"Our customers have loved the app and now there's more to love because additional information and services are available, anywhere at any time," said Barb Coughlin, Rocky Mountain Power vice-president of customer service.
 
The PNM Fund, a division of the PNM Resources Foundation, today recognized the recipients of the 2016 PNM Power Up Grants in Santa Fe. The foundation will award grants ranging from $9,500 to $19,500 to fund projects designed to build vibrant communities. "We are proud to partner with these Santa Fe organizations as they build stronger communities and offer a helping hand to residents," said Diane Harrison Ogawa, executive director of the PNM Resources Foundation.  "The PNM Resources Foundation understands that empowering nonprofit organizations is critically important step in promoting innovation and sparking economic growth."
 
The Empire District Electric Company celebrated the completion of the $168 million Unit 12 Combined Cycle project at its Riverton Power Plant with a dedication event Tuesday, June 28, 2016. The project is believed to be the first large-frame combined cycle unit in the state of Kansas and one of the most efficient generating units in the country. Ground was broken for the project in 2013 as part of the Company's least-cost resource plan to meet new Environmental Protection Agency mandates related to mercury, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter. The project involved the upgrade of a simple cycle natural gas unit, originally installed in 2007.
 
Western Fuels-Colorado, LLC, has changed its name to Elk Ridge Mining and Reclamation, LLC. Elk Ridge Mining and Reclamation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of wholesale electric power cooperative Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. Since forming in 1992, the organization now named Elk Ridge Mining and Reclamation has operated New Horizon Mine near Nucla, Colorado. New Horizon Mine supplies fuel to Tri-State's Nucla Station. The organization has operated Colowyo Mine near Meeker, Colorado, since 2011 and currently supplies coal to Tri-State's Craig Station and has sold coal into the market.
 
Join us July 12, as Westar Energy and NextEra Energy Resources, along with Gov. Sam Brownback, celebrate breaking ground for the Kingman Wind Energy Center. The project will generate enough energy for about 50,000 Kansas homes. The ground breaking will be at 10 a.m. July 12 at the Kingman Substation Laydown Yard, 4515 SW 120th Ave., Cunningham, KS 67035. In addition to the governor, representatives of NextEra, Westar, Midwest Energy and Kingman County will speak. Attendees will get a chance to see the construction site, including a 150-foot wind turbine blade.
 
Western Area Power Administration expanded its customer engagement by hosting the second customer symposium " Discussion on Markets." During the meeting, WAPA senior power marketing staff and other industry experts provided the latest updates on energy trends, market strategies and industry changes. With a service territory spanning 1.3 million square miles interconnecting customers across 15 states through more than 17,000 circuit miles of high-voltage transmission infrastructure, WAPA is uniquely positioned to facilitate collaborative discussions with industry experts and customers about engagement and involvement in industry activities, such as regional transmission organizations and other market initiatives.
 
 
WHITE PAPER
 
The first comprehensive study of the content of rare earth elements in coal ashes from the United States shows that coal originating from the Appalachian Mountains has the highest concentrations of scarce elements like neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium, yttrium and erbium that are needed for alternative energy and other technologies. The study also reveals how important developing inexpensive, efficient extraction technologies will be to any future recovery program.