RMEL e-Newsletter May 2017
RMEL Report
From the Desk of Richard Putnicki, Executive Director, RMEL
Very High Utility Representation Anticipated at Upcoming Spring Conference
The Spring Management, Engineering and Operations Conference is less than 3 weeks away - May 21-23 in Omaha, Nebraska. We are really excited about the program of quality, relevant topics that RMEL members have put together. We are tracking to break attendance records across the board. Already, we've seen the highest number of electric utility registrations on record and more electric utilities represented at this conference than we've ever had in the past. See lists of electric utilities and services and supplier companies registered so far. You're not going to find this unique, diverse representation at any other event.
What does this all mean?
Even though it is challenging to strategize and plan for the future, electric utilities are choosing to strategize together. One of the best qualities of RMEL is the diversity of electric utility types that participate. The issues shared by investor-owned utilities, cooperatives, municipalities, public power districts, generation and transmission associations, government-owned utilities, independent power producers and services and supplier companies are similar, and everyone benefits from hearing different approaches to solutions. At our recent Distribution Conference, a member said that the direction of a project at his utility was not going to be finalized until he had an opportunity to discuss trends with other RMEL members. How powerful is that? That is an example of an opportunity for your company to discuss challenges, lessons learned and successes with folks from other companies. We continually emphasize the registration lists and reference presentation materials to help find answers to current issues and increase your resource network. The knowledge base of services, supplier and associate members is also a fantastic resource.
For those of you that haven't registered and are thinking about it: take another look at the agenda . The program really speaks for itself. Don't miss this opportunity to use RMEL's network to your advantage. Make sure your company is represented as these discussions and networking opportunities are happening in Omaha. The Spring Conference program of nearly 30 sessions is designed from the very start by RMEL members collectively discussing the biggest engineering and operations questions and struggles they are facing at all levels of their utility. The best ideas make the cut, and from there, members find the people who have the answers. When everyone arrives in Omaha on May 21st and then leaves on May 23, they will leave with something new in their toolbox.
Former Nebraska Head Football Coach, Tom Osborne, is going to springboard these strategic discussion with his keynote address at the Spring Conference. Tom is probably 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.
Share Reliability, Asset Health and Technology Best Practices - June 22
After the Spring Conference wraps up, we'll dive further into transmission topics during the Transmission Operations and Maintenance Conference , June 22, in Lone Tree, CO. This conference addresses subjects related to transmission operations and maintenance, such as the interface of information technology and operations technology, reliability coordinator's role in operations, application of SWAGE type transmission connectors , transformer issues in the industry, determining the asset health index for transformers/circuit breakers/T-Lines, reliability centered maintenance programs and workforce topics.
RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament - June 28
Support scholarships and enjoy a day of golf at the RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament , which is slated for June 28, 2017 at Arrowhead Golf Club in Littleton, CO .  This is one of the most scenic golf courses you will ever play in the U.S., let alone Colorado. Nestled in the foothills of the Rockies, Arrowhead Golf Club is one of the most popular public golf courses in Denver for its scenic terrain and interesting layout. It boasts some of the most dramatic elevation changes of any of the golf courses on the Front Range.
Meet the Challenges of Market Transition - July 26-27
The Plant Management, Engineering and Operations Conference, Roundtable and Austin Energy/ERCOT Tours are set for July 26-27 in Austin, TX. Market changes from RTO's, generation portfolios, distributed resources, and environmental regulations are forcing power generation facilities to meet significant challenges regarding reliability, flexibility, facility decommissioning and managing the workforce. This conference will provide deep insight from specialists that are meeting these challenges, and will provide opportunity for highly interactive roundtable discussions of specific issues you may be facing.
Don't Miss These Upcoming RMEL Events
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.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced that it has signed an order authorizing Golden Pass Products LLC (Golden Pass) to export domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries that do not have a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States. Golden Pass is authorized to export LNG up to the equivalent of 2.21 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas to any non-FTA country not prohibited by U.S. law or policy from the Golden Pass Terminal near Sabine Pass, in Jefferson County, Texas.
The first of North America's two longest submarine electricity cables has arrived in Atlantic Canada onboard the cable laying vessel the Skagerrak. Integral to Emera's Maritime Link Project, these cables each measure 170 km and weigh 5,500 tonnes - combined, the two cables weigh more than the Eiffel Tower. The first cable was manufactured in Halden, Norway, while the second cable, which is expected to arrive in mid-May, was manufactured in Futtsu, Japan. The arrival of the Skagerrak, operated by the cable supplier Nexans, marks the start of the submarine cable installation process. Over the next few weeks members of Nexans' highly specialized crew will prepare for the installation of the first electrical connection across the Cabot Strait between Nova Scotia and the island of Newfoundland.
Of the five major energy-consuming sectors in the United States, the industrial sector produced the least amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) per unit of primary energy consumed in 2016, with emissions of 44 kilograms CO2 per million British thermal units (kg CO2/MMBtu). The electric power sector, previously one of the more carbon-intensive sectors, produced 48 kg CO2/MMBtu in 2016. Carbon intensities reflect the consumption-weighted average of the carbon intensities of the primary fuels consumed in each sector. Primary fuels that produce CO2 when combusted include coal, natural gas, distillate heating fuel, diesel, gasoline, and propane. These fuels have different carbon intensities, ranging from about 100 kg CO2/MMBtu for coal (depending on the coal type) to 53 kg CO2/MMBtu for natural gas. Fuels such as uranium (used in nuclear power plants) and renewable fuels (such as hydroelectric, wind, and solar) have no CO2 emissions associated with their consumption.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has halted the battle over the Clean Power Plan for at least two months - and perhaps for good. Last week, the appellate judges ordered that the Clean Power Plan be held "in abeyance" for 60 days while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reviews the regulatory edict and sends back status reports. The Obama-era EPA first filed the Clean Power Plan in August 2015, mandating at U.S. power plants cut carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Since then, however, President Donald Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, former Oklahoma attorney general and consistent opponent of EPA regulations on power plants, as the administrator of the agency. In March, the Trump administration's Justice Department asked the D.C. court not to rule on the Clean Power Plan.
At the Trump administration's request, a federal appeals court agreed Friday to postpone a ruling on lawsuits challenging Obama-era restrictions on carbon emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency had asked the court to put a hold on the case shortly after President Donald Trump signed an executive order vowing to roll back the Clean Power Plan. Trump has called climate change a hoax, disputing the overwhelming consensus of scientists that the world is warming and that man-made carbon emissions are primarily to blame.
A massive power outage hit San Francisco last week on Friday, closing shops and snarling traffic in the city's technology and finance center. About 90,000 were without power, forcing the closure of businesses, a BART station and a federal courthouse. BART's Montgomery Station was closed due to the outage, and trains were running through the station without stopping. Cable cars were also affected and shuttles were put in place to provide service, according to the Municipal Transportation Agency.
Austin Energy has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for renewable solar power. In the request, Austin Energy will "consider the long term purchase of energy, capacity and associated environmental attributes/renewable energy credits from utility-scale renewable solar energy resources." The RFP requires that the solar energy resources be located with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) service region. The RFP schedule includes the following dates: Deadline for email questions will be 5:00 pm CDT on May 12, 2017; Deadline for RFP responses will be 2:00 pm CDT on May 31, 2017.
Basin Electric received a distinguished U.S. Dept. of Defense award April 12, recognizing the cooperative for its strong support of its military employees. Fewer than 75 organizations across the U.S. have received this recognition. The Extraordinary Employer Support Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) was presented to Basin Electric CEO and General Manager Paul Sukut, and its board. "We are thrilled to receive this outstanding award," Sukut said. "To be among a small number of employers receiving the ESGR Extraordinary Employer Support award is truly a humbling honor."
CPS Energy is excited to announce a new Cool Roof pilot rebate program that will benefit customers who are in the process of replacing or retrofitting their existing roof. A cool roof is one that has been designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof. These properties help reduce electricity used for air conditioning by lowering roof temperatures on hot, sunny days. A cool roof is made of a highly reflective type of paint, a sheet covering, or highly reflective tiles or shingles. "This innovative pilot program gives customers more energy efficient options as they look to make roofing improvements. A cool roof can significantly reduce cooling energy costs and increase comfort levels, especially during our South Texas summers," said Cris Eugster, Chief Operating Officer.
One month after enrollment began, El Paso Electric's new Community Solar Program is now fully subscribed. The 3,000 kilowatt facility will be completed by the end of spring 2017. "We're very excited to see that our customers have really embraced Community Solar," said Mary Kipp, El Paso Electric Chief Executive Officer. "The quick subscription time demonstrates our community's interest in different options that provide more accessibility to solar power." Customers can still sign-up for the program online but will be placed on a waiting list. If capacity becomes available at a later time, these customers will be contacted on a first-come first-served basis. Customers may visit epelectric.com to learn more, or to see the construction progress of the facility.
For the 12th year in a row, the Arbor Day Foundation is recognizing Lincoln Electric System with its Tree Line USA designation, an acknowledgement for the utility's diligent work in protecting urban forests in its service area. Tree Line USA is a joint program developed by Nebraska's Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters. According to the foundation, the program "exists to recognize best practices in public and private utility arboriculture, demonstrating how trees and utilities can co-exist for the benefit of communities and citizens." To merit recognition, utilities must meet the program's five core standards of quality tree care, annual worker training, tree planting and public education, a tree-based energy conservation program and an Arbor Day celebration.
As J. Sterling Morton expressed, Hartington will have a few more trees growing in the future following a special Arbor Day event on Wednesday, April 26. The event, which will involve approximately 150 elementary school students from Hartington, is being hosted jointly by the Nebraska Public Power District, the City of Hartington, the Hartington Tree Board, and the Lewis and Clark Natural Resource District. For several years, NPPD has worked with various retail communities it serves to conduct an annual Arbor Day event. Hartington was chosen for 2017 to plant trees needed at the new fire station and for the continuing effort at tree planting in the community led by the Hartington Tree Board. Four trees are being donated by NPPD to be planted at the fire station along with some shrubs.
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."
Rocky Mountain Power opened Utah's newest electric vehicle charging stations that will be part of a regional electric corridor in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. The chargers at the company's Salt Lake City office are open to visitors and Rocky Mountain Power employees for charging electric vehicles. Rocky Mountain Power also announced a $1,250 incentive for its employees to purchase or lease a new or used electric vehicle. "Our goal is to create an electric corridor that will enable our customers and the public to travel up and down our state and from Yellowstone Park to Disneyland," said Gary Hoogeveen, Rocky Mountain Power senior vice president and chief commercial officer. "We are also excited to offer an incentive to our employees to buy or lease an electrical vehicle and encourage other companies to do the same."
The California Independent System Operator (ISO) and Salt River Project (SRP) signed an agreement for the Phoenix-based municipal utility to participate in the western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) beginning in April 2020. "The EIM produces efficient use of resources and lower costs of energy for participating utilities," said Steve Berberich, ISO President and CEO. "We welcome Salt River Project to the western EIM and look forward to working with the utility for a seamless entry in 2020." SRP is a community-based, not-for-profit public power utility and the largest provider of electricity in the greater Phoenix area. It serves more than 1 million customers and is the metropolitan area's largest supplier of water. It is estimated that SRP, which has been serving central Arizona since 1903, can save up to $4.5 million annually by participating in the EIM.
Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association held its 65th Annual Meeting on April 5 in Broomfield, Colorado, with over 425 electric cooperative representatives and industry officials in attendance. Tri-State is the cooperative wholesale power supplier to 43 member electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. The annual meeting's theme, Power with a Purpose, highlighted the association's commitment to its members and the communities they serve with electricity across the West. At the meeting, Rick Gordon, chairman of Tri-State's board of directors, Treasurer Stuart Morgan and Mike McInnes, CEO, reported on the association's performance in 2016 and the strength of the cooperative business model.
United Power has closed on the purchase of a 130,000 square foot facility located on the west side of the cooperative's service territory to serve as the fourth location serving our members. The new facility is located on the east side of I-25, just south of Highway 119. "The purchase of this building is a great step toward meeting some of United Power's strategic goals," said United Power CEO, Darryl Schriver. "As the territory becomes more populated, our ability to respond quickly and efficiently to our members is vital. This west office will allow us to dispatch trucks and personnel to the west and north sides of our territory quickly without the substantial drive time from the headquarters in Brighton."
A rebuilt transmission line connecting Jeffrey Energy Center, north of St. Marys, and a substation east of Manhattan supports growing energy demand. "A robust energy grid supports economic development and electric reliability," Kelly Harrison, vice president, transmission, said. "Investments in transmission enable us to efficiently deliver affordable, reliable and safe clean energy to our customers." Along with improving reliability, the rebuild updates the construction to single-pole steel structures that are more resilient to weather conditions and easier to farm around than H-frame structures that were replaced. The line will continue to operate at 230 kilovolts (kV), but was constructed to 345 kV standards so the voltage can be increased as needs in the area change.
David Eves, President of Xcel Energy, told the Boulder, Colorado city council that the Valmont Generating Station has "burned its last trainload of coal," the Daily Camera reported. Xcel spokeswoman confirmed the announcement, and noted the plant stopped using coal at its 184-MW Unit 5 on March 3. However, the 43-MW, gas-fired Unit 6 remains in operation. Units 1 through 4, all coal-fired units, were shut down in 1986. Xcel announced in 2010 it planned to stop burning coal at the plant to cooperate with the state's Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act. The company noted Unit 5 could switch to natural gas this year, but there are currently no plans to do so.
Hydrogen (H2) has attracted considerable attention as a clean energy source because the only by-product of its reaction with oxygen is water, and high efficiency for energy conversion is achieved when it is combined with fuel cell technologies. However, low volumetric energy density and the dangers of transporting and handling H2 are drawbacks for commercial applications. These problems could be eliminated by using ammonia as a H2 storage medium (H2 carrier). H2 produced from ammonia is utilized in fuel cells, engines, and turbines. However, the adoption of ammonia as a H2 carrier, especially for household and transportable devices, has been limited due to the lack of an efficient process for producing H2 and nitrogen by ammonia decomposition.