RMEL e-Newsletter March 2017
From the Desk of Richard Putnicki, Executive Director, RMEL
"Work hard, stay focused and surround yourself with good people."
-Tom Osborne, Former Head Football Coach and Athletic Director, University of Nebraska
Keynote Speaker, RMEL's 2017 Spring Management, Engineering and Operations Conference
What a quote, what a guy, what an exciting year for RMEL - we get to hear from this legendary coach at RMEL's upcoming Spring Management, Engineering and Operations Conference , May 21-23 in Omaha, Nebraska! That's right, Coach Osborne is keynoting at RMEL's Spring Conference, and you don't want to miss it! This is a man who didn't win for the accolades; he has worked hard for his team and the athletes that he coached for his entire career. He is a true, respected leader - like so many of the inspirational men and women I've met through RMEL who day in and day out do the best job possible, no matter the circumstances and no matter what uncertainty or challenges the industry is facing. In this position, prospective members will ask me, "What makes RMEL so great? Why join this association?" It's all about the people coming together in a trusted forum with diverse perspectives to share anecdotes, discuss options and determine what solutions can best fit their individual situations. Utilities and associate companies of all types, just working together to solve the nation's energy challenges. Since I became Executive Director 6 years ago, I have been so grateful to get the chance to work for/with so many great RMEL members and participants. Having Tom Osborne (a long-time personal hero of this Husker fan) speak at the Spring Conference is a celebration of the talent, integrity and ingenuity I have seen from RMEL members to succeed. I can't wait to see you there !
Don't Miss the Opportunity to Honor Your Champs, High Potentials & Heavy Hitters -
The 2017 Emerging Leader Award Deadline has been Extended to March 10
RMEL's Emerging Leader Award   nomination deadline has been extended to March 10, 2017. This industry is not short on challenges, and as your team stays nimble and gets the job done - who is the person that really takes it to the next level? The RMEL Awards Program is not just about the award plaque - this program provides an important acknowledgement for your staff as you build your leadership pipeline. The esteemed group of Emerging Leader Award recipients are a valued and respected group at RMEL, and we look for opportunities to engage these folks and help them meet their potential. For example, at the Spring Management, Engineering Operations Conference last May, Emerging Leader Award winners had the unique opportunity to participate in strategy session with keynote speaker, Mark Eaton, former NBA All Star. Make sure your organization and your best people are part of this group. Download the nomination form and submit your candidate by March 10!
RMEL March Madness is Here: Time to Put in Your Generation, Transmission and Distribution Starters
No matter what happens to your bracket this month, you can depend on RMEL to bring our A-game with this three-event showdown! Starting today with the  Power Supply Planning and Projects Conference and Roundtable March 1-2 - this is the place to discuss and navigate the changing generation landscape. The Transmission Planning and Operations Conference , covering new technology, asset management and data analytics, will be March 8-9. Then we'll look at industry best practices for emerging distribution technologies during the Distribution Overhead and Underground Operations and Maintenance Conference March 15-16. The fun doesn't stop when NCAA Basketball wraps up - we've got a Distribution Overhead and Underground Design Workshop April 11-13 in Austin, TX. This is 3 days of design, staking and engineering knowledge.
Safety Conference Goes for Gold with Amy Van Dyken-Rouen Leading the Way
  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
Reviewing the Tapes - Looking Back at Successes and New Opportunities Discovered in 2016
You can now download RMEL's 2016 Annual Report ! Last year, members shared best practices, lessons learned and solutions as we collectively worked together navigating changing times in the electric energy industry. Discussion at 28 events included everything from security to power supply planning to unmanned aircraft systems to linemen safety and much more!  We appreciate all RMEL member participation in this trusted network of professionals. We look forward to continuing to serve the RMEL members with cost-efficient, timely and relevant programming and member services in 2017 and beyond.
If you can't tell by now, I'm a fan of the big wide world of sports! I believe sports are a great metaphor for the world we live, but our champions are not limited to the sports field of play. Our champions are everywhere......in the office, out in the field, operating the power plant or working the lines. It's exciting to lead an association that brings those champions together to share and promote our industry's wins, challenges, and lessons learned and success stories. Be sure to share your story through our events and offerings.
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)
Plant Management, Engineering and Operations Conference, RT and Plant Tour --- July 26-27, 2017 (Austin, TX)        
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.
President Donald Trump's first speech to Congress did not give many details about a national energy policy, but it made clear his direction on regulation and infrastructure. Down with the first and up with the second. A reading of the transcript of the president's speech revealed, as anyone who watched it already knows, a focus on hot-button social issues such as crime, immigration, trade and health care. I re-read the speech from the transcript provided in the New York Times (excluding the editorial comments added by the NYT), and will quote the few portions which dealt with the national energy picture.
Last week, SDG&E showcased the world's largest lithium-ion battery energy storage facility in partnership with AES Energy Storage, which will enhance regional energy reliability while maximizing renewable energy use. The 30-MW energy storage facility is capable of storing up to 120 MWh of energy, the energy equivalent of serving 20,000 customers for four hours.
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson issued the following statement in response to President Trump's joint address to Congress: "A vibrant rural economy is critical to America's success in the 21st century. Co-ops are proud to serve as the engines of economic development in their communities - providing the affordable and reliable power that drives innovation, expands opportunity, and empowers millions of families and businesses. "Our members support the president's focus on job creation and enhancing the American economy. Co-ops are answering that call - whether it's bringing broadband to rural towns left behind by the digital age, partnering with local universities to train the next generation of lineworkers, or hiring highly skilled workers to operate 3-D printers and manufacture drones. We look forward to working with the new administration to advance our common goals and improve the lives of every rural American.
Southern Company, the Electric Power Research Initiative and other partners are conducting research to better learn how power panels age, and how performance changes over time. The project, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, is being carried out at the Southeastern Solar Research Center on the campus of Southern Research in Birmingham, Alabama. The center, a collaboration between Southern Company, EPRI, Southern Research and others, works to learn how the southeastern U.S. Climate, with its high levels of heat, humidity, precipitation and pollen, affects the performance of solar photovoltaic systems.
At the upcoming Strategies in Light conference to be held at the Anaheim Convention Center, Russ Sharer, Vice President of Global Marketing for Fulham Co., Inc., supplier of lighting and LED components, will be speaking to lighting industry professionals and influencers about the need for true interoperability standards as the lighting market embraces smart lighting. Sharer's presentation entitled "Standards are Meaningless (without Interoperability)" is scheduled for Thursday, March 2.
Ares EIF Group has closed an equity investment for the construction of a 488MW natural gas-fired combined-cycle generation Birdsboro power plant in Berks County, in the US state of Pennsylvania. The project received a non-recourse debt financing from CIT Bank, GE Energy Financial Services and Investec. However, the terms of the transaction have not been disclosed. The project will feature GE 7HA.02 gas turbine and a GE steam turbine. Kiewit has been retained as the contract for the engineering, procurement and construction of the project.
Recognizing that the escalating cost of demand-side (DS) management programs has "exacerbated an already bleak economic situation" for many Kentucky Power customers," - and that there is less demand for electricity in the Bluegrass State than there was several years ago - the Kentucky Public Service Commission announced last week that it had opened a review (Case No. 2017-00097) of the programs. In an order issued on February 24, the commission noted that the investigation was necessary because of "an approximately 2,000 percent increase over the last year in the DSM rates charged to Kentucky Power's customers," noting that, "Kentucky Power's residential customers this time last year paid a monthly average DSM charge of $.51 . Today the average monthly charge is $10.61."
Britain's energy regulator Ofgem has confirmed it will reduce National Grid's spending allowances in its current price controls for running the high voltage electricity grid and high pressure gas main by £185 million. In May last year, Ofgem launched a mid-period review of the 2013 to 2021 energy transmission price controls. In August it announced a consultation on its decision to reduce National Grid's spending allowances by £185 million.
Canada is the largest energy trading partner of the United States. Based on the latest annual data from the U.S. Census Bureau, energy accounted for about 5% of the value of all U.S. exports to Canada and more than 19% of the value of all U.S. imports from Canada in 2016. While the value of bilateral energy trade with Canada has varied over past decade, driven primarily by changes in prices of oil and natural gas, the overall structure of bilateral energy trade flows has changed relatively little, and U.S. energy imports from Canada has exceeded U.S. energy exports to Canada by a large margin. In 2015 and 2016, the value of U.S. energy imports from Canada and the value of U.S. energy exports to Canada both fell, reflecting declining prices of key commodities such as crude oil, petroleum products, and natural gas. For 2016, the value of U.S. energy imports from Canada was $53 billion, while the value of U.S. energy exports to Canada was $14 billion.
In February 2017, several different storm lines intersected outside of San Antonio, sparking five separate tornadoes. They obliterated homes, wood poles, and transmission towers. Hundred-plus mph winds knocked down trees and inflicted damage in the heavily developed north and northeast side of San Antonio.CPS Energy crews quickly responded to the storm, and when they went to assess damage, they found one tower buckled at mid-height. In total, four transmission towers were in the path of the tornadoes: two towers, which were located 850 ft apart and served two different circuits, failed completely. Two other towers were damaged and will eventually need to be replaced.
Community College (DACC) celebrate the opening of a new electrical lineworker training facility at the DACC Chaparral Campus in New Mexico with a ribbon cutting hosted by the Anthony Chamber of Commerce. This is the third year that EPE has partnered with DACC and the first year that the electrical lineworker training facility is housed at the Chaparral Campus. DACC's Electrical Lineworker Certification Program is a one-year pre-apprenticeship certificate program designed to provide students with the technical background and manual skills necessary for careers in the installation and maintenance of electrical power cables.
Rather than close the plant later this year, the utility owners of Navajo Generating Station (NGS) voted today to extend operations of the facility near Page, Ariz., to the December 2019 end of its lease if an agreement can be reached with the Navajo Nation. This measure would preserve, for almost three years, continued employment at the plant, additional revenues for the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe. It also provides the Nation or others with the potential to operate the plant beyond 2019 should they so choose - although the current non-governmental group does not intend to be participants at that time. The decision by the utility owners of NGS is based on the rapidly changing economics of the energy industry, which has seen natural gas prices sink to record lows and become a viable long-term and economical alternative to coal power.
Tucson Electric Power (TEP) will award $135,000 to help local nonprofit groups expand educational opportunities, protect our environment and support limited-income assistance programs through its Community Impact Grants. Application forms and guidelines will become available on TEP's website at tep.com/community beginning on Wednesday, March 1. Applications must be submitted online by 5 p.m. on March 29 to be considered for funding.
Planning for 2017 and beyond, Western Area Power Administration published its 2017 State of the Assets. "In 2017 WAPA will continue to build resiliency and security into our infrastructure," said WAPA Administrator and CEO Mark A. Gabriel. "We must stay robust in this era of change, to provide assurance and dependability for the 40 million Americans we collectively serve with our wholesale customers."  The 2017 State of the Assets, a forward-looking document, outlines WAPA's operations, transmission system and related services. The report also provides the status of each region, progress on current initiatives like cost containment and Asset Management, and gives an update on WAPA's participation in industry changes and markets. Since 2014, the State of the Assets has been published the first quarter of every calendar year to clearly explain WAPA's direction and focus for the year and delineates upcoming capital investments.
Xcel Energy announced today a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration to research the safe operation of drone technology to inspect critical infrastructure. The agreement involves using unmanned aircraft systems to inspect more than 20,000 miles of Xcel Energy transmission lines in 10 states. The data collected from diverse climates, conditions and geographies will be used by the federal agency to secure the nation's airspace now and in the future.
When it comes to solar power, storing electricity as fuel would let that energy work on dark or stormy days. The challenge is creating a catalyst that can push the reactions to produce a fuel, such as hydrogen, and later break the fuel to release the energy. Mother Nature does this every day in tiny microorganisms, such as those that make up pond scum. These enzymes work in both directions, reversibly, at room temperature and pressure without added energy.