RMEL e-Newsletter May 2016
RMEL Report
From the Desk of Richard Putnicki, Executive Director, RMEL
We are ready to get the 2016 Spring Management, Engineering and Operations Conference off and running here in Denver, Colorado where it all began for RMEL back in 1903. We hope you will join us May 15-17th  at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center. There is still time to register!  I am so proud of the great work by our members to build such a thought-provoking Spring Conference program this year. It's always impressive to see what you all can accomplish at this conference with the solutions-driven program and networking functions. This is sure to be a productive time for all attending!
Denver in 1903 - RMEL's Founding Principles
I think if you could go back to Denver in 1903 and talk to the founders of RMEL, they'd say that this is exactly what they wanted RMEL to be; this trusted forum for everyone involved with electricity to figure out more about the technology opportunities and how to make America a better place with affordable and reliable power. They were just beginning to learn about all the possibilities of this industry, and it's amazing that there are still so many fascinating discoveries made every day. Whether we're talking about technical innovation or forward-looking business strategies - the amazing people that make up the electric energy workforce are taking all the moving parts and creating a lasting future for electricity and the American way of life.
RMEL's First Fall Convention
In 1903, the "Colorado Electric Light, Power and Railway Association" had its first event to explore the possibilities of this industry on October 28-29th at the Denver Gas and Electric Company in Denver, CO. Prominent electricians from all parts of the United States presented on topics like the best methods for lighting cities, placing wires underground and economic fuel supply. A "question box" was provided to spark impromptu discussion. Now known as "RMEL's Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention ," the principles behind this event and meeting's purpose are still much the same today, 113 years later.  The 2016 Fall Convention is slated for September 11-13, in Summerlin, NV.
Getting Technical at the Spring Conference
The Spring Conference started about 50 years after that very first meeting, and has since become the Spring Management, Engineering and Operations Conference. This is a roll-up-your-sleeves kind of an event. With 30 sessions, each person can build the conference that suits his/her needs. NBA Great Mark Eaton is this year's keynote speaker and the popular Executive Panel General Session is back. You're going to see topics you haven't seen at an RMEL Spring Conference before and speakers from utilities that have never participated in RMEL's Spring Conference before. This is all part of growing RMEL's knowledge bank and network for you, the members. Register today !
RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament
The networking at RMEL has always been outstanding. Functions like the RMEL Champions Receptions, Spring Conference Exhibits, breaks and lunch are a great time to meet new people or catch up with old friends. And of course, there's always the time-honored tradition of golf! The Spring Conference and Fall Convention both kick-off with a Golf Outing that supports the RMEL Foundation and scholarships for students looking to join the electric energy industry. In addition, the RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament always takes place in Colorado in the summertime. In 2016, the Golf Tournament is slated for June 15, 2016 (about a month earlier than usual) at a NEW location - 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.
Be Part of the Continued 113-Year RMEL Tradition
Join us to continue the traditions of trusted sharing and solutions discovery at RMEL's 2016 Spring Management Engineering and Operations Conference, the 2016 RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament and RMEL's 2016 Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention.
Don't Miss These Upcoming RMEL Events
Electric Utility Financial Decision Making Workshop  --- June 7-8, 2016 (Kansas City, MO)
RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament --- June 15, 2016 (Littleton, CO)
Transmission Operations and Maintenance Conference  --- June 23, 2016 (Lone Tree, CO) 
Field and Engineering Customer Service Conference --- July 14, 2016 (Lone Tree, CO)
Plant Management, Engineering and Operations Conference  --- July 26-27, 2016 (El Paso, TX)
Transmission Project Management Conference  --- August 3-4, 2016 (Golden, CO)
Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention  --- September 11-13, 2016 (Summerlin, NV)
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)
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.
Two new one-hour online courses developed by the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) and its partners-the Metropolitan Community College, the Institute for Safety in Powerline Construction (ISPC), and T&D PowerSkills, LLC-to teach safe practices when working with steel utility poles are now available online at http://lineman.steel.org/. SMDI is a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute.
The Midcontinent ISO (MISO) released results of its fourth planning resource auction late April 14, and while there is adequate generation to go around, MISO officials acknowledged that plant retirements have affected prices. The results show that resources are available to reliably operate the electric grid and meet the planning reserve margin requirement of 135,483 MW. There are several ways for load-serving entities (LSEs) to demonstrate they have sufficient capacity, either by owning resources, contracting for resources or by entering into MISO's voluntary planning resource auction to secure capacity.
2016 brings updates from JD Power on utility customers' satisfaction. The good news is that this year, the trendline is up. Business customers' satisfaction is at an 8-year high. According to the survey, utilities are increasingly getting it right on the customer satisfaction front, but a rising tide leads to even more competition for the utility industry's top spots. Some industry frontrunners have seen their leads erode over time as their fellow utilities gain ground in the annual review. What can utilities do to stay ahead? A close read of JD Power's results reveals a single trend so simple that it's almost hiding in plain sight. The key to better customer satisfaction lies in better communication.

The U.S. Power Grid was born in 1882 with the Pearl Street Station in lower Manhattan and expanded and evolved over the next 134 years.  Many parts of the grid are now aging and it is estimated by the International Energy Agency that $2.1 trillion will need to be invested over the next 30 years in order to modernize the grid.  Modernization will encompass more than replacing old components with new. It will need to address integration of larger shares of renewable energy while delivering on higher levels of reliability and resiliency that are demanded by energy consumers and businesses.
A DNV GL-led project has found that wind-powered water injection oil recovery is technically feasible and offers a cost-competitive alternative to conventional water injection solutions. The DNV GL-led Win Win1 joint industry project (JIP) has used floating wind turbines to power a water injection system in a bid to determine its technical and commercial feasibility.
For decades, hydraulic fracturing had been referred to as an unconventional completion technique, but over the past 10 years it has become the technique by which most natural gas is produced in the United States. Based on the most recent data from states, EIA estimates that natural gas production from hydraulically fractured wells now makes up about two-thirds of total U.S. marketed gas production. This share of production is even greater than the share of crude oil produced using that method, where hydraulic fracturing accounts for about half of current U.S. crude oil production.
The California Independent System Operator (ISO) Board of Governors late yesterday approved a plan to improve gas-electric coordination and reduce the risk of electric delivery issues associated with the moratorium imposed on the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility. The revised draft final proposal includes improvements to better align ISO markets with current conditions on the gas system and to enable power plant operators to better manage their gas burns to avoid gas balancing penalties. The ISO also proposes to reserve transmission capacity if necessary to take into consideration gas or electric system conditions, which will help ensure lines have flexible capacity margins to respond to real-time changes.
Utility customers are getting more and more demanding. And utility executives should be grateful for it. That's because customers who in the past have been largely indifferent about their relationships with their electric and gas utilities are increasingly paying more attention to their energy consumption behaviors. And by doing so they're setting new, higher expectations of what support and messages they're getting from utilities.
The widespread deployment of cost-effective, grid-scale energy storage solutions may still be distant, but the technology appears to be commercially viable. The next step: Getting projects funded and online.  Storing electricity on a large scale has been pursued for years by electric utilities in hopes of using the power to cover periods of peak demand. The ability to store large amounts of power will help power producers fill the production gaps created by growing amounts of intermittent generation such as solar and wind power.
DTE Energy and Vectorform have announced a partnership to leverage virtual reality to advance high-consequence training. The technology allows DTE technicians to train on a number of simulated work environments -- including how to operate at great heights, repair down wires and perform gas line shut-offs -- all from the safety of their offices.
To uphold a controversial solar project in the town of Rutland that's expected to cover nearly 15 acres of land on Cold River Road the decision was made by the Vermont Supreme Court. The land on Cold River Road where the project is proposed sits near a number of properties whose owners have vocally petitioned against the development. Lawyers representing the neighbors claim the Public Service Board overlooked their arguments, like the impact an industrial project will have on an area that has wetland, forest and nearby homes.
Arkansas 549 in Fort Smith may not directly connect Kansas City to Lafayette, La., as Interstate 49 yet, but it has served as a smooth training ground for the National Nuclear Security Administration's Office of Secure Transportation. No live nuclear warheads are used in the night-time training sessions that have occurred on Arkansas 549 since October when the highway closings were first publicly announced. The 6.5-mile stretch of interstate-quality highway at Chaffee Crossing opened last July. Arkansas 549 connects U.S. 71 in Fort Smith to Arkansas 22 in Barling.
American Electric Power-Public Service Co. of Oklahoma recently retired its 36-year-old, coal-fired Unit 4 boiler-turbine-generator set as part of an environmental compliance deal with U.S. regulators and the Sierra Club. As part of the same agreement, AEP-PSO spent more than $100 million adding new cleanup equipment that reduces emissions of sulfur dioxide and mercury in surviving Unit 3. Accompanying this short story is a chronological slide show of the work done in adding dry sorbent injection, activated carbon injection and a fabric filter bag house to the once open space just east of Unit 3. Unit 3 is part of the Northeastern Power Station in Oologah, Oklahoma.
As part of the Department of Energy's ongoing efforts to modernize the nation's grid through the Grid Modernization Initiative, the DOE announced $25 million in available funding through an effort called Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) to help software developers, solar power companies, and utilities accelerate the integration of solar energy into the grid. Since President Obama took office, the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased 23-fold-from 1.2 GW in 2008 to an estimated 27.4 GW in 2015, with one million systems now in operation.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the  
High Hazard Potential Small Dam Safety Act to Congress on April 26. This bipartisan legislation seeks to provide federal grant assistance for the rehabilitation and repair of non-federal high-hazard-potential dams. The act would provide grants to repair or replace some of the estimated   4,000 dams in the U.S. considered unsafe or deficient.
The Bioenergy Feedstock Library contains no books. What it does contain is information about biomass -- organic material such as corn stover, switchgrass, wood chips and wheat straw. Nearly 50,000 biomass database entries and more than 35,000 physical samples reside in a repository located at the Department of Energy's Biomass Feedstock National User Facility. The library got its start in 2009, when Idaho National Laboratory lab technician Marnie Cortez got a strange assignment: Go to an eastern Idaho field and organize hundreds of boxes of biomass.

The future of our state lies in the hands of our students. To help schools in Arizona, we recently launched a pilot program that funds 100 percent of energy efficiency projects. This allows schools to reduce energy costs and keep money in the classroom. Our APS Schools Pilot Program provides $2 million in funding through 2017 for energy-saving projects at K-12 schools in our service territory. It is designed to assist public and charter schools that haven't been able to take advantage of our Solutions for Business energy efficiency programs due to funding restraints. This will help these schools save money on their energy bills, improve comfort and protect the environment by increasing efficiency and reducing energy consumption.
Black Hills Corp. announced that Steven Helmers, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, will retire at the end of June. Brian Iverson, the company's Senior Vice President, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs and Assistant General Counsel, will succeed Helmers and has been appointed Senior Vice President and General Counsel effective April 25, 2016, reporting to David R. Emery, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Helmers will provide transition support until his retirement to ensure a smooth succession.
ConEdison Development (CED), one of America's largest owners and operators of renewable energy infrastructure projects, today dedicated Alamo 5, a 118-MW DC/95-MW AC, dual-axis solar installation in Uvalde and Knippa, Texas that will deliver clean energy to CPS Energy of San Antonio.  CPS Energy is the country's largest municipally-owned natural gas and electric company. The 378,000-panel, 990-acre site - the largest operating dual-axis solar plant in North America - is capable of providing 95 MW (AC) of renewable power to CPS Energy.  The capacity is enough to serve approximately 15,000 households annually.  Alamo 5 is situated approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio.
EPE welcomes the completion of the newest power generating unit at our Montana Power Station (MPS). This is the third unit with an 88-megawatt (MW) turbine powered by natural gas at MPS. Unit 3 was completed on-time and on budget and will provide electricity to more than 40,000 homes. MPS Unit 3 follows the completion of Units 1 and 2, which became operational in March of 2015. These units are already performing, as expected, at about a 40% capacity factor and even higher during the summer months.
KCP&L announced plans to increase its sustainability portfolio with the purchase of an additional 500 megawatts (MW) of power from two new wind facilities in its service region. That's enough energy to power up to 170,000 homes. "This announcement marks a significant investment in renewable energy, and will benefit our customers and the region," said KCP&L President and CEO, Terry Bassham. "Over the past decade, we've transitioned our energy mix to become more sustainable and cleaner, and today is the most recent in a series of investments in renewable energy. We're excited to announce our first wind facilities in our Missouri service area."
There are no barrels or bulls, and instead of chaps and cowboy boots, contestants wear hooks, harnesses, and hard hats. But for the Nebraska Public Power District's (NPPD), the 15th annual American Public Power Association Lineworker's Rodeo was a chance to  test the utility's journeymen and apprentices against their peers and earn a third place finish. Held April 1-2 in Minneapolis, MN, the rodeo was the largest in the event's history, drawing 130 apprentice line technicians and 63 teams representing public power utilities throughout the U.S. At the rodeo, lineworkers compete for professional recognition in various events, attend training classes and practice essential skills in a safe environment.
At its regular monthly meeting, the Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors asked OPPD senior management to provide an update on the utility's ongoing assessment of its generating resources at the Board's May 12 meeting. That update is to include potential scenarios for a future resource portfolio to ensure OPPD achieves its mission over the next 20 years. OPPD's mission is to provide affordable, reliable, environmentally sensitive energy services to its customers.
It may be just a few shovels moving dirt but today's groundbreaking for Rocky Mountain Power's new Subscriber Solar program is also breaking new ground for solar power for customers. The 20-megawatt solar plant being constructed near Holden, Utah, will allow commercial and residential customers to purchase power from the sun even if they can't afford to install solar panels or live in apartments or condos.
Hundreds of Native American students will put their design and engineering skills to the test as part of the 22nd Annual PNM Solar Car Races today, Friday, May 6. Students from around New Mexico worked for weeks with PNM engineers to design, build and test solar-powered model cars. More than 200 fifth-grade students built 70 solar cars with the top 21 power-packed cars making it to the race finals. The top three cars from each school earned the chance to race in the finals at Explora.
In honor of the hundreds of SRP employees who devote thousands of hours to worthy causes, six employees have been chosen to receive the SRP Presidents' Volunteer Spirit Award. The award recognizes employees and retirees who are leaders in volunteerism and who serve as examples of the power of caring. Employees receiving the award are Jeff Fantin, Sheryl Heier, Karilee Ramaley, Ron Harrison, Beatriz Antelo and Ed Baker.
Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, the not-for-profit wholesale power supplier to 44 member electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming, held its 64th annual meeting in Broomfield, Colo., on April 6, 2016. Approximately 490 electric cooperative representatives and industry officials attended the meeting to review the association's performance and discuss the issues facing the electric utility industry. This year's annual meeting highlighted the significant progress made in 2015 to bolster member relations within the association. In 2015, the association's membership completed work to review the association's wholesale contracts and set a new wholesale rate design, which became effective January 1, 2016. These issues are fundamental to the way Tri-State's members work together within the association.
United Power's Fort Lupton office will open in a new location on Monday, May 9th. The new office is conveniently located in the Safeway shopping center at 1200 Dexter Street in Fort Lupton, and will offer walk-in services to cooperative members from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.  "When selecting a new location, it was important that we maintained our presence in Fort Lupton for our many members from the surrounding areas who prefer to do business with their co-op in-person. United Power's new Fort Lupton office location is conveniently located in a major shopping center, offers access to plenty of parking and provides additional security for our employees," said Antelia Ball, Manager of Member Services. "In addition to added convenience, we are also excited to announce that the new office location will be open five days a week to better serve our members."
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 today 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.
Westar Energy welcomed local leaders and landowners Monday to break ground and celebrate as construction begins on the 280 megawatt Western Plains Wind Farm near Spearville. Westar in collaboration with Infinity Wind Power will develop Western Plains Wind Farm in Ford County, Kan., which will bring Westar's renewable energy total to more than 1,700 megawatts when it's online early next year. Westar selected turbines from Siemens, key components of which will be assembled in the Siemens facility in Hutchinson, Kan. Mortenson Construction will build the wind farm. Representatives from Infinity, Siemens and Mortenson, also welcomed the crowd.
Going home in the same condition they arrived--that's the goal for every Xcel Energy worker every day. And thanks to attention to detail and safe work practices employed in energy facilities around the state, that's what happens. In recognition of that dedication, 34 Xcel Energy work groups representing more than 3,500 employees received Governor's Safety Awards from the Minnesota Safety Council.
Most of the world's nations have agreed to make substantial reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions, but achieving these goals is still a considerable technological, economic, and political challenge. The International Energy Agency has projected that, even with the new agreements in place, global coal-fired power generation will increase over the next few decades. Finding a cleaner way of using that coal could be a significant step toward achieving carbon-emissions reductions while meeting the needs of a growing and increasingly industrialized world population.
Inspired by the humble cactus, a new type of membrane has the potential to significantly boost the performance of fuel cells and transform the electric vehicle industry. The membrane, developed by scientists from CSIRO and Hanyang University in Korea, was described in the journal Nature. The paper shows that in hot conditions the membrane, which features a water repellent skin, can improve the efficiency of fuel cells by a factor of four.