RMEL e-Newsletter June 2016
From the Desk of Richard Putnicki, Executive Director, RMEL
Spring Conference: Great Jump Start to a Summer of RMEL
We are still on a rocky mountain high from the fantastic Spring Management, Engineering and Operations Conference that was held in Denver May 15-17. A special thank you to keynote speaker and former NBA great Mark Eaton for setting the tone for the event with an inspiring message! Also, thanks go out to all of the great speakers, attendees, exhibitors, RMEL Champions, RMEL Section Committees, our volunteer moderators, and of course, our Board of Directors, who made this conference a record-breaking success through relevant topics and quality content. An unprecedented 368 attendees participated in our conference this year with an increase in utility attendance specifically. Fantastic!
RMEL Emerging Leader Award Winners Huddle Up with Mark Eaton
RMEL Emerging Leader Awards were bestowed during the Spring Management, Engineering and Operations Conference. The 2016 Emerging Leader Award winners are Travis Anderson, Tyson Archie, Erik Moe, Clifton Oertli and Patrick Reinhart and Nathan Tate.
The Emerging Leader Award recognizes RMEL members with 5-10 years of experience who have made significant contributions within their organization and have demonstrated the potential for leadership and continuing service within the electric energy industry. Get full details about this year's winners.
The Emerging Leader Awards Program is more than just a piece of hardware - RMEL is very focused on continuing the benefits and partnership with these future leaders and help them succeed by providing opportunities that will enhance their professional development . New this year, current and past Emerging Leader Award Winners participated in a strategy session with Mark Eaton and members of RMEL's Board of Directors to talk professional development, managing people and what it takes to continue on their leadership path. Now is the time to start thinking about who you'd like to nominate for the Emerging Leader Award next year - the 2017 Emerging Leader Award nomination deadline is March 17, 2017.
RMEL Foundation Scholarship Program's Incredible Record-Breaking Momentum Continues
Technology and innovation are exciting, but there is nothing more energizing than 400 students expressing an interest in this industry through the RMEL Foundation Scholarship program. And the RMEL Foundation and Named Scholarship sponsors were able to respond with more scholarships than ever before! The dollars raised each year is growing, the number of scholarships given each year is growing, the number of craft scholarships given is growing and the Named Scholarship Program is growing. At least three of the 2016 scholarships recipients are interning at RMEL member companies this summer. Internships are an economical way to bring talent into your organization. The scholarship winners, as well as applicants, can be a great resource to find prospective candidates for you intern program. Please consider using that list, if you are not currently doing so.
The RMEL Foundation has provided over 230 scholarships totaling $573,000 since its inception 16 years ago. Last year, the RMEL Foundation Silent Auction raised a record $67,000 allowing RMEL to award 36 scholarships this year! Get full details on these amazing students who received scholarships for the 2016-2017 school year
This is an exciting time to grow our industry. Please attend or sponsor the 2016 RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament taking place at the incredible Arrowhead Golf Club on June 15, 2016, and donate an item to the RMEL Foundation Silent Auction, taking place at the Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention September 11-13, 2016, in Summerlin, NV.
Be Part of the Summer of RMEL - Now is Your Chance
We are just getting warmed up for a great summer, and we've got something for everyone. We're headed to Kansas City this week, June 7-8, for the Electric Utility Financial Decision Making Workshop. Support scholarships by attending or sponsoring the 2016 RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament on June 15, 2016. If you're looking for the latest in transmission system technology, monitoring and safety best practices, attend the 2016 Transmission Operations and Maintenance Conference June 23. 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 Conference is being hosted at the Western Area Power Administration Electric Power Training Center August 3-4, 2016.
We're Building Up to and American Power Spectacular - the 2016 Fall Convention in Summerlin, NV
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 is executive-level convention will feature electric utility CEOs, industry experts and thought-provoking messages to help us all power through together. Be there September 11-13, 2016, at the J.W. Marriott in Summerlin, NV. Download the preliminary brochure.
RMEL is Growing our Staff and Seeking a New Team Member
This is as exciting time for the industry and RMEL and we are looking for a new staff member who would enjoy working in our fast-paced environment. This person would help lead two of the most important areas of RMEL - member services and business development. More details about this specific position will be available soon. Please let me know if you have someone in mind
Working for an association is unique, and we are looking for the right person who has a passion for customer service. Thank you!
We can't wait to see you this summer and fall - momentous times are ahead!
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 Annual Energy Outlook 2016 (AEO2016) Early Release features two cases: the Reference case and a case excluding implementation of the Clean Power Plan. Reference case: A business-as-usual trend estimate, given known technology and technological and demographic trends. The Reference case assumes Clean Power Plan (CPP) compliance through mass-based standards (emissions reduction in metric tones of carbon dioxide) modeled using allowances with cooperation across states at the regional level, with all allowance revenues rebated to ratepayers. No CPP case: A business-as-usual trend estimate, but assumes that CPP is not implemented.
With May being National Electric Safety month, it is the perfect time to look at upcoming advancements in electrical safety. [JM1] The latest edition of the IEEE National Electrical Safety Code (NESC®) due out August 1st, 2016 has been reorganized for easier use, and it includes a number of changes and exceptions to rules, as well as the introduction of some new, useful tools to help users more easily access and utilize NESC content. The latest edition follows on a tradition to ensure the continued practical safeguarding of persons and utility facilities during the installation, operation and maintenance of electric supply and communication facilities.
Southern California Edison should procure energy storage resources that can be dispatched by the California ISO as soon as possible, the California Public Utilities Commission said May 26.
The move was the latest step to address grid reliability concerns due to the limited use of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, which had a leak that has since been sealed and is undergoing tests to determine when it can be used.
The Department of Energy's (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has selected Pennsylvania State University as the lead institution to establish the University Coalition for Fossil Energy Research. The Coalition will bring together a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from participating universities to address the fundamental research challenges that impede advancement of fossil energy-based technologies.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is testing unmanned aircraft systems to enhance the safety and reliability of its electric and gas service. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has authorized PG&E to use drones to assist with inspections of electric and gas infrastructure. PG&E is conducting two separate testing programs to explore the feasibility of using safety drones to monitor electric infrastructure in hard-to-reach areas and to detect methane leaks across its 70,000-square-mile service area. These aircraft are small and controlled by human operators through remote commands. Drones are flown safely over PG&E's electric and gas infrastructure and always within the visual line of sight of operators.
And, no, they are not all batteries. Rail energy isn't what you think (unless you're thinking about pumped storage where the water is replace with rail cars). The hydrogen dream's been around forever. They're also talking a bit about batteries, too---the flow kind. (And lest you think the rail concept super crazy: There is one in the works in Nevada set to come online in 2017.)
A French energy company is a step closer to bringing the world's first grid-connected tidal array online.
Over the weekend, the second of two turbines was lowered into the water off the coast of Brittany. The first turbine was installed in January. The Paimpol-Bréhat tidal array project and the energy it generates is owned by EDF, a French electric utility company, but the turbines are being built and installed by OpenHydro, a DCNS company. DCNS is a naval defense and energy firm in France.
Utility regulators say delivery rates for National Grid's 1.7 million electric and natural gas customers in upstate New York will remain frozen through March 2018. Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman says the decision will have a significant economic benefit to National Grid's commercial and residential customers and preserve base rate stability while allowing the company to borrow more than $2 billion and continue modernizing its systems.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) announced this week it will perform geophysical testing on the dam at Raccoon Mountain's upper reservoir, part of its 1,652-MW Raccoon Mountain pumped-storage project. TVA officials say this testing is part of a nondestructive investigation to determine material properties of the dam and its foundation. The dam is 230-ft high and 8,500-ft long and is the largest rockfill dam ever built by TVA.
Officials say the huge Mojave Desert solar thermal power plant damaged last week by fire could be back online within three weeks. David Knox, spokesman for plant operator NRG Energy, said Wednesday that mirrors misaligned during maintenance focused sunbeams in such a way that fire was sparked May 19.
Knox says new safeguards will prevent the problem from happening again at Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.
City Manager Marc Ott named Jackie Sargent as Austin Energy's new top boss Thursday evening, bringing an end to a months-long hunt for the billion-dollar utility's next general manager. Sargent, who oversaw power supply and market operations for Austin Energy from 2010 to 2012, is the general manager and CEO of the Platte River Power Authority in Fort Collins, Colo. She will be the first woman to run Austin Energy, overseeing 1,670 employees at a utility that serves 1 million residents. "Ms. Sargent brings a broad perspective that includes not only successful management of an electric utility as the General Manager and CEO, but also hands-on experience in all aspects of electric utility operations and management," Ott said in a statement. "I am very pleased to bring Jackie back to Austin. She will be a great addition to my executive team."
With more than 300 days of sunshine every year, Arizona is a natural for solar power. In fact, the state was recently ranked number two for total solar energy capacity. This clean resource will remain an important piece in powering Arizona's energy future, and APS continues to evaluate how to get the most solar and most solar benefits for the least cost to customers. According to recent reports from MIT, Harvard and the Brattle Group, grid-scale solar power generation (large solar farms that typically contain solar panels that track the sun across the sky) has been shown to be more cost-effective and provide more environmental benefits than residential rooftop solar generation. Put another way, both grid-scale solar and rooftop solar could achieve the same environmental benefits, but the cost to do so with grid-scale solar would be much lower. In addition, grid-scale solar means all APS customers are solar customers, not just the ones who can put panels on their roof.
Employees at the plant have worked without a major workplace injury since fall 2006.
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.
"Jim has been a key member of the EPE team, and has allowed us to significantly develop and grow our regulatory expertise," said Nathan Hirschi, Chief Financial Officer. "As we look to the continuing growth of our service area and our company, Jim's leadership and experience is instrumental in ensuring that EPE is well-prepared for the future." Mr. Schichtl began his career with El Paso Electric in 1992 as a Rate Design Analyst. He has held several other key positions within the company, including Senior Regulatory Case Manager, Manager of Economic and Rate Research and Director of Regulatory Affairs. Mr. Schichtl has led and developed many of EPE's main regulatory functions, such as class cost of service studies, rate research, and rate design analyses.
Mr. Randy Richardson was named Plant Manager of the Empire Energy Center. In this position, he is responsible for all aspects relating to staffing, operation, and maintenance of the plant. Mr. Richardson graduated from the University of Missouri - Rolla with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He later received his Master of Business Administration through Northwest Missouri State University.
In July 1992, he joined Empire as an engineer and later served as Electrical Engineer of Line Design.
He also held various positions at Empire's Riverton and Asbury plants including Local Projects
Manager, AQCS Construction Manager, Manager of Operations, Supervisor of Coal Handling, and
Electrical and Controls Manager.
Continued operation of Fort Calhoun Station (FCS) is not in the long-term financial best interests of OPPD or its customer-owners. That's what President and CEO Tim Burke told the board of directors, making a recommendation from senior management that the utility will cease the generation of electricity at FCS by the end of 2016 and begin decommissioning. The recommendation came after a thorough review of OPPD's resource planning efforts. The board will review the recommendation and is anticipated to vote on it at the June 16 board meeting. If the recommendation is approved, OPPD proposes no general rate increases through 2021.
With the help of Rocky Mountain Power's Blue Sky customers and generous donors, the Grand County School District is getting ready to flip the switch on a unique alternative energy project. The waste vegetable oil cogeneration plant at Grand County High School is the first of its kind for Rocky Mountain Power and one of a few biomass projects in the country. The 60-kilowatt generator creates power from discarded waste vegetable oil from local restaurants. The generator captures waste heat and supplies 45 percent of the power for the high school, approximately $20,000 to $25,000 each year. The district originally considered using solar power but determined this project would be a better option to cut peak-load costs and lower energy bills.
The Platte River Power Authority Board of Directors named Jason Frisbie General Manager (GM) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective August 6. He will replace Jackie Sargent, who was recently named General Manager of Austin Energy in Austin, Texas, effective August 15. Sargent and Frisbie will work together on a transition plan between now and her departure from Platte River August 5. Frisbie has been with the Platte River since 1982, serving in multiple roles including bulk material operator, site maintenance supervisor, bulk material supervisor, air quality/water supervisor, plant maintenance manager, and division manager-power production. He was named COO in 2010. Frisbie holds a bachelor's in Industrial Technology from Colorado State University and a master's in Business Administration from University of Phoenix.
As rubber gloves are dipped into a tank filled with more than 200 gallons of water, SRP employee Bruce Redford flips a switch and 40,000 volts of electricity surge through the water. Tendrils of white lightning surround the gloves and light up the tank, as Redford looks on from a safe distance and nods his head, pleased with the results. Each month, Redford and Jim Latas take in dozens of rubber gloves and blankets used by SRP workers in the field and test them to make sure they are safe to be worn.
The next generation of low-carbon energy technology is now one small step closer to reality with the recent groundbreaking at the Dry Fork Power Station outside Gillette, Wyoming. In a few years, the Wyoming Integrated Test Center (ITC) will house teams competing for millions in prize money for their solutions to carbon management. The ITC is a model public-private partnership that will provide space for researchers to test Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration (CCUS) technologies. Only the second center of its kind in the United States, the ITC alleviates typical concerns around transferring technology from the lab to a power plant since test center users and XPRIZE competitors will be working with real flue gas directed from the plant to the test center.
Tucson Electric Power (TEP) will enter into long-term agreements with E.ON Climate & Renewables and NextEra Energy Resources for the construction of two large, innovative energy storage systems. The projects, approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), will be used to improve service reliability and study how such systems can support the expansion of solar power resources and other renewable energy technologies. "We hope that innovative systems like these will help us achieve our long-term renewable energy goals without compromising the reliability or affordability of our service," said David G. Hutchens, TEP's President and Chief Executive Officer. TEP is working to deliver at least 30 percent of its power from renewable resources by 2030, doubling the state's 2025 goal.
Great Plains Energy Incorporated, the parent company of KCP&L, and Westar Energy, Inc., announced a definitive agreement for Great Plains Energy to acquire Westar in a combined cash and stock transaction with an enterprise value of approximately $12.2 billion, including total equity value of approximately $8.6 billion. Upon closing, Westar will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Great Plains Energy. Once the transaction is complete, Great Plains Energy will have more than 1.5 million customers in Kansas and Missouri, nearly 13,000 megawatts of generation capacity, almost 10,000 miles of transmission lines and over 51,000 miles of distribution lines. In addition, more than 45 percent of the combined utility's retail customer demand can be met with emission-free energy.
Xcel Energy Inc. announced that Chairman, President and CEO Ben Fowke has been appointed to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) by President Barack Obama. Established in 2001, the NIAC is charged to improve the cooperation and partnership between the public and private sectors. It advises governmental agencies on policies and strategies that range from risk assessment and management to information sharing to protective strategies and clarification on roles and responsibilities between government and industry.
In the United States, the use of natural gas for electricity generation continues to grow. The driving forces behind this development? A boom in domestic natural gas production, historically low prices, and increased scrutiny over fossil fuels' carbon emissions. Though coal still accounts for about a third of US electricity generation, utility companies are pivoting to cleaner natural gas to replace decommissioned coal plants. Low-maintenance, high-efficiency gas turbines are playing an important role in this transition, boosting the economic attractiveness of natural gas-derived electricity. General Electric (GE), a world leader in industrial power generation technology and the world's largest supplier of gas turbines, considers gas-fired power generation a key growth sector of its business and a practical step toward reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. When burned for electricity, natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide that coal does. It also requires fewer environmental controls.
The use of natural gas as a raw material for chemicals production is a goal pursued intensively in chemical research. Scientists working under Javier Pérez-Ramírez, Professor of Catalysis Engineering, have now succeeded in optimising a process which enables natural gas constituents to be upgraded into higher-value chemicals. "We take a molecule of the natural gas constituent methane (CH4) and replace one of its hydrogen atoms with a bromine atom to form methyl bromide (CH3Br)," explains Pérez-Ramírez. "The latter can be used as a base material in the chemical industry for the production of fuels and a range of chemicals, such as polymers and pharmaceuticals."