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RMEL Report
From the Desk of Richard Putnicki, Executive Director, RMEL
 
It's September, and that means we've just wrapped up our 113 TH  Annual Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention September 11-13, 2016, in Summerlin, Nevada. T his year's keynote speakers, Ross Shafer, Ross Shafer Consultants, Inc. and Jeffrey Birnbaum, President of BGR Public Relations and a Former Reporter, Editor and Fox News Political Analyst, absolutely knocked it out of the park. Ross got us future ready discussing how utilities can evolve to stay relevant in these changing times. Jeff provided his insight to help us navigate through the current political possibilities on the road to the presidency. The speaker line up this year was just incredible, and there were some great conversations and perspectives about American power! 

I'd also like to congratulate the 2016 RMEL Award winners, who received their RMEL Awards on Monday:
  • Distinguished Leadership Award: Micheal S. McInnes, Chief Executive Officer, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association
  • Honorary Life Membership Award: Jim Galambas, Executive Director, E3 Consulting
  • Industry Leadership Award:
    • Jedd J. Fischer, Project Manager, New Lines Group, Nebraska Public Power District
    • Bob Hess, Senior Principal Engineer, SRP
    • Mike Morris, Executive Consultant, Zachry Engineering Corporation
    • Keith Malmedal, PhD, PE, PEng, President & Principal Engineer, NEI Electric Power Engineering, Inc. 
You can read more about these esteemed individuals here. Thank you to everyone who joined us for the 2016 Fall Convention.

I would be remiss for not mentioning a successful RMEL Foundation Auction.  We were able to raise $50,000 through the generosity of our membership. Special thanks to our esteemed auctioneer, Steve Bridges, and his sidekick on the auction floor from years past, Larry Covillo, to work their magic for a successful event. We also had the opportunity to hear from Lauren Rippy, currently enrolled at Baylor University, who shared her firsthand experience of being a repeat RMEL Scholar and member company intern this past summer at Kiewit.  Hearing her story makes it easy to understand why we are passionate about this initiative.  

This is also the time of year when we solidify plans for next year. The full 2017 calendar will be available at www.RMEL.org soon! I've given a preview of offerings for each section below. RMEL Section Committees are focused on providing solution-driven conferences, workshops and roundtables based on member needs. As you prepare and finalize your education budgets for 2017, you can be sure that RMEL's event costs are on-average much lower than other courses you'll find in the industry. Because our members are actively engaged in determining content and topics, our programs remain relevant and timely!  

 
Average RMEL Registration Rates:
 
Typical Industry Registration Rates:
 
Conference:
$295
vs.
$500
Workshop:
$480
vs.
$700
Signature Conferences:
$700
vs.
$1,100
 
Crash Course on RMEL's Education Framework
  • Core events - these reoccur at the same time every year, with brand new topics and speakers every year
  • Elective events - these change each year depending on needs of the membership; sometimes a need is urgent and RMEL committees will decide to plan and host an event within a few months' time!
  • Roundtables - members-only roundtables provide a venue for trusted, candid conversations about what's keeping you up at night
  • Conferences - these events are focused on showcasing industry best practices and case studies from a variety of speakers
  • Workshops - intensive workshops tend to focus in on one specific area of training and are usually longer with one instructor or sometimes multiple instructors
2017 RMEL Education Section Events Preview

Safety Section Committee
The Safety Section prioritizes workplace safety at production, transmission and distribution, and management facilities in the utility industry.
  • Complimentary Safety Roundtable - February 2017 (Denver area)
  • Safety and Technical Training Conference (April 2017; Denver)
  • Complimentary Safety Roundtable - April 2017 (Denver area)
  • Complimentary Safety Roundtable - August 2017 (Denver area)
  • Complimentary Safety Roundtable - November 2017 (Denver area)
Generation Section Committee
The Generation Section is focused on energy production and supply in the utility industry, including planning and development. Topics covered include renewable generation.
  • Power Supply Planning and Projects Conference (March 2017; Denver)
    • Generation Vital Issues Roundtable
  • Plant Vital Issues, Engineering and Operations Conference (July 2017)
    • Generation Vital Issues Roundtable
  • Renewable Planning and Operations Conference (October 2017; Denver)
  • Environmental Right-of-Way Conference (October 2017; Denver)
Transmission Section Committee
The Transmission Section topics relate to planning, engineering, operating and maintaining transmission facilities in the utility industry, including substations.
  • Physical and Cyber Security Conference (January 2017; San Antonio)
  • Transmission Planning and Operations Conference (March 2017; Denver)
    • Transmission Vital Issues Roundtable
  • Transmission Operations & Maintenance Conference (June 2017; Phoenix)
  • Renewable Planning and Operations Conference (October 2017; Denver)
  • Environmental Right-of-Way Conference (October 2017; Denver)
Distribution Section Committee
The Distribution Section is dedicated to planning, engineering, operating and maintaining distribution facilities in the utility industry, including distributed generation.
  • Distribution Overhead and Underground Operations and Maintenance Conference (March 2017; Denver)
    • Distribution Vital Issues Roundtable
  • Distribution Overhead and Underground Line Staking Workshop (April 2017; Austin)
  • Distribution Engineers Workshop (October 2017; Denver)
Vital Issues Section Committee
The RMEL Management Section is now the RMEL Vital Issues Section and is focused on the management of assets, planning, operations and workforce of the utility industry, including corporatewide critical issues and topics that affect different management levels. Discussion may be technical but in general maintains perspective from a higher management level. This section includes demand-side management, energy efficiency and sustainability. This section also incorporates miscellaneous industry areas and fringe topics not covered in other sections.
  • Introduction to the Electric Utility Workshop (January 2017; Denver)
  • Spring Management, Engineering and Operations Conference (May 2017; Omaha)
  • Customer Service Conference (June 2017; Denver)
  • Introduction to the Electric Utility Workshop (August 2017; Kansas City)
  • Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention (September 2017; Tucson)
  • Electric Utility System Operations Workshop (TBD)
  • Utility Finance Workshop (TBD)
We look forward to seeing you soon!
 
EDUCATION AND UPCOMING EVENTS
Don't Miss These Upcoming RMEL Events
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)
Practical Applications of the 2017 NESC Workshop --- November 9-10, 2016 (Lone Tree, 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.
 
INDUSTRY INFORMATION
 
With just over 70 days left until the general election, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump offer voters two very different visions for the country's energy agenda and the future of renewables. In many ways, the candidates' energy platforms are a microcosm of their larger strategies, with Mrs. Clinton focused on expanding initiatives forged during President Obama's tenure, and Mr. Trump hewing to an earlier era of traditional sources. In energy policy, as with nearly every issue in this election, there is little if any overlap in the candidates' philosophies-meaning there is little ambiguity about where the industry will head on each candidate's watch. Mr. Trump's energy agenda is largely defined by his stated commitment to rolling back clean energy initiatives established over the past eight years.
 
Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) issued the following statement after the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association announced that its coal-fired power station in Nucla, CO, and Craig Station Unit 1 in Craig, CO, will be retired as part of an agreement with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), WildEarth Guardians, and the National Parks Conservation Association on revisions to the Colorado Visibility and Regional Haze State Implementation Plan (SIP).
 
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Sept. 2 rejected an April 25 application from Loxbridge Partners LLC for a preliminary permit under which it was to study the feasibility of the proposed McNary Second Powerhouse Project. The project was to be located at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' McNary Lock and Dam facility on the Columbia River near the City of Umatilla in Umatilla County, Oregon. The project would utilize the McNary Dam and would consist of these new facilities: a powerhouse built in place of the existing McNary Dam south abutment; seven 100-MW Kaplan turbine-generators; two or three step-up transformers; and two 1,300-yard-long transmission lines interconnecting with the existing McNary Dam substation. The estimated annual generation of the McNary Second Powerhouse Project would be 3,700 gigawatthours.
 
President Barack Obama announced new federal conservation measures Wednesday at Lake Tahoe as he seeks to emphasize global efforts to fight climate change ahead of the Group of 20 summit in China.  The White House said the federal government would spend $29.5 million to help prevent wildfires near the lake, along the border of California and Nevada; ramp up efforts to recruit private philanthropic donations; and provide $29 million in funding for geothermal research.
 
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced approximately $6.7 million in federal funding for cost-shared projects that will develop technologies that utilize carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired power plants to produce useful products. DOE's Office of Fossil Energy is seeking these projects as part of the Department's Carbon Storage program, which has the goal of developing and advancing technologies to improve the effectiveness of carbon storage, reduce the cost of implementation, and be ready for widespread commercial deployment in the 2025-2035 timeframe.
 
A new report looks at the strategies of 11 meter data management system (MDMS) players and ranks them according to platform features, marketing, customers and vision. The report, Navigant Research Leaderboard Report: Meter Data Management Systems, states: The global market for MDM solutions has diversified as established competitors and new entrants offer more comprehensive and complex solutions. Recently, utilities have placed new demands upon their MDMSs, stretching capabilities to work across diverse utility systems and support applications beyond the traditional meter-to-cash and customer information system (CIS) functions.
 
U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz joined clean energy leaders and elected officials from across the Northwest on Aug. 15 to discuss the region's clean energy challenges and opportunities. In his keynote address at the Northwest Regional Clean Energy Innovation Partnership Workshop, Moniz recognized BPA's Technology Innovation program and its role in "moving the innovation agenda." He added BPA has been a "leader of deploying smart technologies like synchrophasors on the grid."
 
Entergy Louisiana crews continue to work on restoring service to customers affected by the historic Louisiana flooding as water recedes in some areas. As of 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 16, approximately 16,335 customers were without electricity, down from a peak of more than 26,000 reached Sunday night. Volunteers from every state were descending on flood-stricken Louisiana Wednesday to assist relief efforts for what the Red Cross called the nation's worst disaster since Superstorm Sandy, according to a report from NBC News.
 
The mix of energy sources used for power generation in California this summer changed from last summer, as renewables and imported electricity offset lower natural gas use. During summer 2016 (June, July, and August), thermal generation (almost all from natural gas) in the area serviced by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) was down 20% from the previous summer, while generation from hydroelectricity, other renewables, and electricity imports was higher than the same period last year. The overall level of electricity consumption was 2% higher this summer as temperatures were slightly warmer than the previous summer.
 
Alaska Power & Telephone Co. Board Chairman William Squires announced that Michael Garrett will replace the company's long-time president and CEO Robert Grimm as the utility's new CEO when he retires at the end of 2016. Garrett, AP&T's COO and executive vice president, is a CPA, is currently serving as president of the Alaska Exchange Carriers Association and has recently served as president of the Alaska Telephone Association. Outgoing CEO Grimm was Electric Light & Power magazine's 2015 Small Utility CEO of the Year.
 
Greece's power network operator says it is doing its best to protect employees from irate consumers following a gunfire attack on one of its crews in Athens. The Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator says nobody was injured in Monday's attack by a tavern owner who opened fire after first assaulting the technicians dispatched to remove the cable connecting his business to the network.  A company statement issued Tuesday said the tavern owner hadn't paid his electricity bills and had reconnected his business to the grid illegally after being disconnected several times in the past.
 
Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), a unit of American Electric Power (AEP, NYSE: AEP), announced a request for proposals to purchase wind energy assets. American Electric Power Service Corp. issued the RFP on behalf of SWEPCO. Proposals for up to 100 MW, with a minimum nameplate rating of 80 MW, are due Sept. 15, 2016. SWEPCO wants proposals for projects that can be placed in commercial operation by Dec. 31, 2018. The projects must be interconnected to the Southwest Power Pool and located in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas or Missouri.
 
MEMBER ANNOUNCEMENTS
 
The Zilker moonlight tower will once again light up the night sky - but this time with energy-efficient, LED light bulbs. The moonlight tower was taken down in April to be repaired and restored, and Austin Energy contractors put up the restored tower Wednesday, Aug. 31. The moonlight tower in Zilker Park is one of the original 31 towers that provided the City of Austin its first urban lighting system in 1895.
 
Arizona is more than halfway through monsoon season 2016, and the work APS performed in the offseason to harden its power grid has helped to keep the lights on for customers across the state.  APS manages 35,000 square miles - the sixth-largest service territory in the country. With more than half a million power poles, 6,500 miles of transmission power lines, and more than 28,000 miles of distribution lines to serve customers, APS looks for ways to safeguard its equipment to continue providing reliable electric service - no matter what Mother Nature sends our way.
 
Black Hills Energy is pleased to announce that Michael Schmidt has joined the company as an operations supervisor for western Nebraska, based in Sidney. Schmidt will lead Black Hills Energy's natural gas operations in Broadwater, Chappell, Dalton, Gurley, Kimball, Lewellen, Lisco, Lodgepole, Oshkosh and Sidney.
 
The Public Utility Commission of Texas (Commission) approved a Final Order (Order) in El Paso Electric Company's (the Company or EPE) rate case. The Order resolves all issues in this rate case. "While we are pleased that we have come to a resolution in our rate case, we understand the current economic impacts affecting our growing community," said Mary Kipp, El Paso Electric CEO. "As a member of this community for 115 years, we have been dedicated to the long-term success and well-being of our region. As we continue to see solid customer growth, we remain committed to making prudent investments to meet increasing demand. By using cost-effective technologies and making environmentally-conscious decisions, we are making our power grid more dependable, safer and cleaner for future generations.
 
A nationwide study revealed Lincoln Electric System's rates average 13th lowest overall among the 100 cities surveyed, said Emily Koenig, LES director of Finance & Rates. Koenig said the overall ranking is down two positions from the 2015 study ranking of 11th lowest. While LES rates remain unchanged in 2016, fuel cost adjustments implemented by other utilities due to falling natural gas prices mainly account for the change in rank.
 
Nebraska Public Power District's (NPPD) Cooper Nuclear Station declared an "Unusual Event" on September 6  as a result of an earthquake in Oklahoma. Minor tremors were felt at the plant, which required plant operators to declare the event. There is no threat to the public or plant personnel, and the station continues to operate safely. Per procedure, station personnel have increased monitoring of plant equipment. No damage to the plant or equipment has been noted. The plant's Emergency Plan is being followed and appropriate local, county, state, and federal agencies have been notified.
 
During August's meeting, the board accepted the monitoring report for Board Policy: Strategic Directive-5, relating to customer satisfaction, and found the district to be sufficiently in compliance. The report, presented by Vice President-Customer Service Juli Comstock, includes the latest results from the J.D. Power 2016 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction StudySM . OPPD's score of 700 placed third in the Midwest Midsize category, which includes utilities serving between 100,000 and 499,999 customers.  The average score for the Midwest Midsize category was 680.
 
The nation's leading producer of natural and organic meat snacks is now being recognized as Idaho's best company for conserving energy. Rocky Mountain Power is naming Golden Valley Natural as the 2016 wattsmart® Business Partner of the Year in Idaho for outstanding achievements and leadership in energy efficiency.
 
As the Arizona Cardinals return to the gridiron for a new season, there are even more reasons to cheer for touchdowns. Through Salt River Project's Trees for Touchdowns campaign, SRP will pay to plant 100 Ponderosa Pine trees for every Cardinals touchdown scored this season. Since 2010, more than 1.3 million acres of forests have been destroyed by devastating wildfires. Together with SRP customers and the National Forest Foundation, SRP has planted nearly 1 million trees on 2,560 acres of forest land through the Trees for Change program, which is funded by SRP customers who pledge an additional $3 or more to their monthly bill.
 
The Empire District Electric Company unveiled its first public charging station in Branson,
Missouri. The charging station is part of the Company's new electric vehicle incentive program. EVOLVe is an initiative to encourage broader adoption of clean, efficient electric vehicles. The initiative includes rebate incentives, educational outreach, and increased availability of electric vehicle charging stations within The Empire District Electric Company service area.

The owners of the Craig Station power plant, including PacifiCorp, Platte River Power Authority, Salt River Project, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and Public Service Company of Colorado, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, have reached an agreement with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, WildEarth Guardians and the National Parks Conservation Association to revise the Colorado Visibility and Regional Haze State Implementation Plan (SIP).
 
Men and women of law enforcement were honored during a Law Enforcement Appreciation Lunch on July 27, 2016 at the Colorado National Guard in Fort Lupton. Along with the lunch and recognition, United Power provided free blue light bulbs to all attendees in support for our men and women in blue. The blue light bulbs are part of Project Blue Light, a nationwide effort to honor the men and women who serve and protect, while also remembering those who have died in the line of duty.
 
Tucson Electric Power (TEP) has launched a new mobile app that will notify customers about power outages at their homes or businesses, allow them to make payments and inform them about their energy usage patterns. The app is designed for ease of use on Apple and Android devices and will provide customers with flexible, 24-hour access to account management features. Customers can download the app for free from Apple's App Store or Google Play.
 
In what is the largest proposed agreement of its kind in Colorado history, involving a record number of intervenors and key energy issues, Xcel Energy and other parties reached a global settlement agreement that will help set the course for the state's energy future. In filings with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Xcel Energy and 22 of 26 intervenors agreed, in total or in part, on a global settlement on three recent Xcel Energy filings, including the company's Phase II Electric Rate Case, Solar*Connect, and the 2017 Renewable Energy Plan.
 
WHITE PAPER
 
One of the most promising approaches to curbing the flow of human-made greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is to capture these gases at major sources, such as fossil-fuel-burning power plants, and then inject them into deep, water-saturated rocks where they can remain stably trapped for centuries or millennia.