RMEL e-Newsletter April 2017
RMEL Report
From the Desk of Richard Putnicki, Executive Director, RMEL
Adjusting Your Game Plan for Future Success
T he 2017 Spring Management, Engineering and Operations Conference theme is Adjusting the Game Plan for Future Success. During the conference, May 21-23 in Omaha, NE, sessions and discussion will focus on strategies, best practices and solutions that electric utilities are using and adapting in this changing political climate. It's not always easy to "move the ball up and down the field" when the game is changing, but it's EASIER when you have your RMEL team around you, collectively working together to adjust the game plan.  At every event, I hear about those "game changing" experiences and the sharing of the experiences.  Members gathering nuggets, inquiring questions like, "Has anyone else tried this? Did it work? What are your lessons learned?" Members working together and building a solid network as a source for current and future challenges.
The Spring Conference program  is a collection of sessions targeted specifically by our membership that will help them adjust their game plan as they move forward. RMEL members collectively designed this program from the very start with a discussion of the biggest engineering and operations questions and struggles they are facing at all levels of their utility. The best ideas ma d e the cut, and from there members f ou nd the people who have the answers. When everyone arrives in Omaha on May 21st and then leaves on May 23 rd, they will have something new in their toolbox to help address those big struggles. We've seen high turnout from RMEL utility members at RMEL events so far this year, and we are on track to have a large utility crowd at this event. Make sure your company is represented.

Former Nebraska Head Football Coach, Tom Osborne to Kick off Spring Conference with Keynote Address
Tom Osborne is most widely known for is his 25-year coaching career at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.  As head coach, he led the Nebraska football team to three national championships (1994, 1995 and 1997) and 255 wins, all of which earned him a spot in the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame. Tom retired from coaching in 1998 and served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from Nebraska's Third Congressional District from 2000 to 2006.  In Congress, Tom worked to promote mentoring as a key component in improving quality of life for our nation's youth.  Tom was Nebraska's Athletic Director from 2007 to 2013 where he led the University in a move to the Big Ten Conference.

Join Amy Van Dyken-Rouen and Your Electric Energy Safety and Operations Colleagues for the Safety and Training Best Practices Conference in Two Weeks
We are extremely excited to have Amy Van Dyken as our keynote speaker at the  Safety and Training Best Practices Conference April 19-20 in Lone Tree, CO. As a 6-time Olympic Champion, Amy speaks about her experiences as a world class athlete and how she developed the "will to win" through perseverance despite the obstacles she faced throughout her career. And the Safety Committee has put together a great lineup of speakers and topics to complement Amy's message. This is the event to stay on top of safety awareness, technical training and human performance. New for 2017! Visit the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Safety Trailer Exhibit on April 20: featuring a Substation Relay Training Trailer, Telecom Training Trailer, Distribution Lineman Training Trailer and Confined Space Trailer.

It's going to be an exciting couple of months, and there's more great events coming in 2017! Always feel free to contact me with your ideas and let us know how we can better address the challenges you're facing.

See you soon!


Don't Miss These Upcoming RMEL Events
Distribution Overhead and Underground Design Workshop --- April 11-13, 2017 (Austin, TX)
Safety Conference --- April 19-20, 2017 (Lone Tree, CO)
Transmission Operations and Maintenance Conference --- June 22, 2017 (Lone Tree, CO)                            
2017 RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament --- June 28, 2017 (Littleton, CO)
Transmission Project Management Workshop --- August 2-3, 2017 (Golden, CO)                           
Safety Roundtable - August 2017 --- August 25, 2017 (Golden, CO)
2017 Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention --- September 17-19, 2017 (Tucson, AZ)
Planning Session: 2018 Spring Conference --- October 5, 2017 (Lone Tree, CO)
Distribution Engineers Workshop --- October 11-12, 2017 (Lone Tree, CO)
Renewable Planning and Operations & Environmental Conference --- October 18-19, 2017 (Lone Tree, CO)
Safety Roundtable - November 2017 --- November 3, 2017 (Fort Collins, CO)


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 2017 RMEL Champions.
To better serve its growing number of customers and to provide greater service reliability, South Carolina Gas & Electric proposed a new 115-kV electrical transmission line in 2007 called the Hamlin 115-kV tie line. At the request of the Town of Mount Pleasant, from 2007 to 2009, SCE&G studied the option of placing a larger section of the line underground. In 2009, SCE&G began to investigate additional underground options that would place three existing radially fed substations into a loop system arrangement, embarking SCE&G on the largest underground high-voltage transmission project in company history. Following are images of the installation process. For further detail on the project, see "115-kV Cable Installed Across a Tidal Marsh," featured in the April 2017 issue of T&D World.
After falling in six out of seven quarters from mid-2014 to mid-2016, coal production rose in the third and fourth quarters of 2016. Among the coal supply regions, the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming saw the largest increases in the second half of 2016. The increases in coal production were driven by an increase in coal-fired electricity generation, which occurred as natural gas prices increased.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced the share of its electricity generated from renewable sources grew to nearly 33 percent. The company noted that total grew three percent in 2016
California's Renewables Portfolio Standard mandates utilities reach 33 percent renewable generation by the end of 2020, and 50 percent by 2030. Including nuclear, PG&E's mix of power generation from non-fossil fuel sources reached 69.3 percent. Additionally, PG&E noted it has made its power grid more reliable by investing in its electric infrastructure, and has reduced the number and duration of power outages.
House Bill 3427 requires owners or operators of dams with a "high hazard" rating to develop an emergency action plan, including determining the frequency for conducting emergency response exercises. The bill also requires the Water Resources Department to conduct periodic inspection of dams with a high hazard rating. A high hazard dam means that failure would likely cause fatalities, according to Racquel Rancier, senior policy coordinator with the Water Resources Department. In testimony before the House Committee on Veterans and Emergency Preparedness, Rancier said the department has no position on the bill at this time.
At NREL, the word "investment" is a common one. The laboratory's work focuses on forward-looking efforts to integrate and optimize energy systems, create new economic opportunities, and bolster U.S. competitiveness in the global energy market ultimately strengthening our country's energy security and ensuring reliability and stability for future generations. But the talented and dedicated researchers and engineers at NREL, and other research laboratories, will eventually retire. That's why a growing contingent of NREL staff is making a complementary investment: volunteering time and expertise to foster the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce of the future. While the number of students pursuing STEM at the college level has increased, many kids particularly girls are still losing interest in science before starting high school.
In what is being seen as a clear message about its policy priorities, the Trump administration has updated the home page for the federal agency that oversees public lands to showcase a large photo of an open-pit coal mine in Wyoming. The photo was stripped across the Bureau of Land Management site within the last week. On Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced approval of a $22 million lease of more than 6,000 acres in Utah to a coal-mining company. In an accompanying statement, Zinke described the bureau as being "in the energy business." In the past, the web page has more typically featured photos of fields of wildflowers, green forests and snow-capped mountains. The coal mining photo replaced the image of a man and young boy with camping gear watching a scenic sunset.
Since the invention of electricity there is always a challenge to store it for future use. With the technological advancement, battery storage has offered a way to store energy chemically-especially renewable energy, so that it can be used at the point of demand or to balance grid. Amid surge in solar and wind power generation and their intermittent nature, the battery storage demand has increased manifold, and now batteries are big enough to give power backup to mega cities.
Unit 1 of the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant near Waynesboro, Ga., has safely resumed generating electricity following completion of a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage. Plant operators safely took the unit offline March 12, 2017, and it resumed electricity production April 4, 2017, at 7:18 p.m. ET. In addition to refueling the nuclear reactor and performing regular maintenance and testing, workers made upgrades to power plant systems and components to enhance efficiency and reliability. The most significant upgrade for this outage was the installation of a digital controls system for the main turbine generator and associated equipment. This new Mark VIe system from GE replaces the plant's original analog control mechanisms.
On March 11, utility-scale solar generation in the territory of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) accounted for almost 40% of net grid power produced during the hours of 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This is the first time CAISO has achieved these levels, reflecting an almost 50% growth in utility-scale solar photovoltaic installed capacity in 2016. The large and growing amount of solar generation has occasionally driven power prices on the CAISO power exchange during late winter and early spring daylight hours to very low, and sometimes negative, prices. However, consumers in California continue to pay average retail electricity prices that are among the highest in the nation.
In a move to better position APS to serve its customers now and in the immediate future, the company announced today a number of officer changes, including the promotion of Jacob Tetlow to the position of vice president, transmission and distribution operations. Previously, Tetlow was general manager, transmission and distribution, operations and maintenance, a position he held since 2014. In his new role, Jacob is responsible for ensuring the delivery of safe and reliable energy to APS customers. These responsibilities include system operations and maintenance, as well as the construction of APS's transmission and distribution grid.
Austin Energy unveiled an electric transportation hub called Electric Drive in the heart of downtown Austin. Electric Drive is a showcase of Austin's growing electric vehicle infrastructure, and offers proof that Austin has become EV ready. Located along a portion of West 2nd Street in the Seaholm EcoDistrict, Electric Drive is powered entirely by renewable energy. Electric Drive offers dedicated parking for two electric vehicle charging stations including a fast-charging DC port, and a solar-powered kiosk that can recharge electric bikes, scooters, motorcycles, laptops and mobile devices using integrated USB ports and electrical outlets.
The announcement is a positive step forward in Basin Electric's efforts to seek time and flexibility when it comes to developing a carbon management plan. Basin Electric CEO and General Manager Paul Sukut issued the following statement March 28 on President Trump's executive order on the Clean Power Plan (CPP): "President Trump's announcement today is a positive step forward in our efforts to seek time and flexibility when it comes to developing a carbon management plan, hopefully, in the context of a national energy policy."
Kansas City experienced the most growth of electric vehicle (EV) adoption in the United States, helping transform the region into a hot spot for electric vehicles and meeting a key goal of KCP&L's Clean Charge Network. According to 2016 fourth-quarter numbers released by IHS Automotive and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Kansas City tops the nation in electric vehicle growth, over cities like Las Vegas, Denver and Miami. Since deployment of the network began in 2015, the metropolitan area has experienced a 95 percent increase in electric vehicle adoption. In addition, Kansas City was awarded number one in driver and charging station growth by ChargePoint, a manufacturer of EV charging stations, in 2016.
More than 1,500 retail customers and 26 wholesale utility leaders who participated in a recent reputation survey believe their energy supplier, the Nebraska Public Power District, is reputable and trustworthy. Ninety-five percent of residential, community leaders, commercial and industrial customers surveyed ranked NPPD's reputation, trust and service as either "excellent" or "good." Retail customers rated NPPD's reputation and trust both at 95 percent and NPPD's service at 96 percent. General managers of utilities that purchase electricity from NPPD ranked NPPD's reputation, trust and service at 93, 79 and 93 percent, respectively. The survey was conducted by MSR Group out of Omaha, and the results were shared with NPPD's Board of Directors at its March meeting in Columbus, Neb.
The Omaha Public Power District proved to be an innovative energy partner, playing a key role in helping to bring Facebook's new data center to Papillion, Neb. The district's recently approved rate plan, Rate 261M, is a unique and powerful example of how OPPD works to meet the needs of large companies, particularly those who seek more renewable energy, while bringing broader economic benefits to all of its 369,500 customer-owners. "We're on a mission to connect the world, and we're committed to powering this connectivity with the smallest footprint possible," said Peter Freed, renewable energy manager at Facebook. "Our goal is to reach 50 percent clean and renewable energy in our electricity supply mix for our data centers in 2018, and our work with OPPD brings us one step closer."
PacifiCorp today released a long-term energy plan that looks to new investments in renewable energy resources, upgrades to the company's existing wind fleet, and energy efficiency measures to meet future customer energy needs. The $3.5 billion expansion plan, set to be in place by 2020, also incorporates building a segment of the Gateway West transmission line to facilitate the wind expansion. The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which was filed with utility regulators across PacifiCorp's six-state service territory, is used as a road map to help the company provide reliable electric service to customers at the lowest cost.
A preliminary analysis by PNM of its options for providing customers energy in the future shows that retiring the remaining two units of San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) in the Farmington area in 2022 could provide long-term benefits to customers. The analysis is part of the PNM process to create an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) which is currently underway. Every three years, PNM is required to file an IRP, in which the company analyzes the various energy supply options for the future and identifies a resource portfolio that will most effectively balance reliability, affordability, and environmental responsibility. The IRP process includes many different activities- modeling different resource options, seeking public input through a series of open meetings, and evaluating huge amounts of data. The IRP looks at a 20-year planning horizon, and includes a detailed action plan for the next four years.
Salt River Project is resuming a project to bring needed power lines to support economic development in the Price Road Corridor. The new approach reflects a reduced load forecast and changes in the City of Chandler's General Plan for the area. In response to customer growth, SRP will bring a new double circuit 230-kilovolt (kV) power line from its Knox substation in Chandler to a 230kV substation, identified as RS-27, which is located in the northern portion of the Price Road Corridor. The proposed route will run east from the Knox substation primarily on the south side of the Loop 202 to the north-west portion of the Price Road Corridor. SRP is seeking input on the best location of the line from this area to the RS-27 substation site.
Sunflower is pleased that the Kansas Supreme Court approved the addendum to the Holcomb Expansion air permit. Much work-by the Court, KDHE technical staff, and Sunflower staff-has gone into making certain that the HEP air permit meets all applicable state and federal requirements. Just as it would have been ten years ago when we began this process, the Court's decision is another incremental step in the process. Sunflower and Tri-State will continue to assess the project relative to other resources to meet the long-term power needs of our Member co-ops.
Tucson Electric Power's integrated resource plan (IRP) will push it to add about 800 MW of new renewable energy capacity by 2030, the utility reported Wednesday evening. TEP's 2017 IRP was filed this week with the Arizona Corporation Commission. The report indicates that TEP remains committed to delivering at least 30 percent of its power from renewable sources within 13 years-twice the generation mix required by 2025 under the state's renewable energy standard. The TRP outlines the utility's resource portfolio, future projects and outlines for customer engagement over the next 15 years.
A specially equipped helicopter is flying along sections of Westar Energy's transmission system. The images it captures will help identify areas that may need maintenance and create a more modern record of the transmission system. "These flights provide a more precise and searchable visual record of the transmission system, which improves our efficiency and reliability," Kelly Harrison, Vice President, Transmission, said. "We also want to let everyone know about this work so they are not concerned if they see the helicopter flying along transmission lines." Flights are planned through early April. Flights will generally be from two hours after dawn until two hours before sunset and may occur on the weekends. The flight schedule begins with work in south-central Kansas, then progresses through southeast and northeast Kansas, including the Topeka and Atchison areas.
Xcel Energy, the nation's leading utility wind energy provider, has plans to make the largest multi-state investment in wind capacity in the country. The company has proposed 11 new wind farms in seven states, which would add a total of 3,380 megawatts of new wind generation to its system. The proposed plan significantly increases the amount of wind energy in the company's energy mix by 2021, with wind fueling nearly 35 percent of its total energy mix. "We're investing big in wind because of the tremendous economic value it brings to our customers. With wind energy at historic low prices, we can secure savings that will benefit customers now and for decades to come," said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. "Our plan delivers on both economic and environmental fronts, as we provide customers the cleaner, renewable resources they want, while continuing to deliver the reliable and low-cost energy they need."
A team of scientists at the University of Cambridge has developed a way of using solar power to generate a fuel that is both sustainable and relatively cheap to produce. It's using natural light to generate hydrogen from biomass. One of the challenges facing modern society is what it does with its waste products. As natural resources decline in abundance, using waste for energy is becoming more pressing for both governments and business.