June 2020

by Bonnie Biocchi, Executive Director

These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and women.
Thomas Paine, Common Sense

These words, written in 1776, ring true today. We are certainly living in trying times, and no one yet knows what the outcome will be.  What will it take to come out on the other side of the fear, the anger, the hatred and uncertainty that have gripped our nation? It will take the collective will of all of our people committed to ensuring that America will live out her promise of being one nation with liberty and justice for all. It will take honest dialogue, active listening and the willingness to update our cognitive maps to accommodate a new paradigm. And that will take leadership and teamwork.

Recently, our Training Coordinator, Colleen DelSignore, suggested that we participate in a “book read” as a way to help keep us connected during the pandemic. Sarah suggested “The 360˚ Leader”, written by John C. Maxwell and we set about learning how to affect change and grow influence in the workplace.  While the book had many interesting points, there were two things in particular that resonated with me. The author makes a strong case for cultivating leaders from within. He states that the most impactful leaders are those that develop influence within the ranks. He also is a steadfast believer that establishing and sustaining strong teams fosters loyalty and accountability, two of the key hallmarks of any successful organization. It is often said that a “leader is only as good as the people she/ he surrounds themself with”. That is certainly true for me.

NEPPA’s team consists of many talented and amazing people.  When the pandemic forced the closing of the NEPPA training center, our team immediately began working on ways to keep our membership informed and connected. Wendy created a new Covid-19 Resource Center. Sarah & Colleen spent countless hours rescheduling dozens of classes and @Your-Site trainings and developing new opportunities for teaching. Although daunting at first, Steve embraced the technology that would allow us to deliver content virtually.

The endless hours of preparation, revisions, test drives and resolving technical glitches resulted in a virtual safety series and a new virtual Apprentice Lineworker lecture series . Last week, we unveiled our new live, online training. As you might guess, we were all anxious to see how folks would respond to this new mode of delivery. Here is what Kevin Snow, GM at Groveland had to say: “That was honestly the BEST safety meeting we've had. Having scenarios thrown at you that you can look at and diagnose really helps. The other aspect that we really enjoyed was the fact that it was done with other departments outside of our own. Typically we train with the other municipalities close to our area, so it was good to hear other perspectives and see people that usually we usually only get to interact with in Mutual Aid situations.”

Last week, Bill Hesson our New York trainer-deluxe, was the first to get back in the saddle with in-person training at several locations. It was gratifying to see him teaching in a mask, observing the necessary pandemic protocols to keep his students safe. We look forward to the day when all of our capable trainers will be back out in the field bringing you the quality training you are accustomed to.

We will reopen our office on June 15 th. You will see many new protocols in place and a re-arranged reception area. Thanks to Jackie for her willingness to reconfigure the reception area and to Elizabeth for the excellent work she has done to set up all necessary procedures and acquiring the products for safely returning to work. I have joked with her that she could now start a side gig, training folks on how to reopen their offices!

This kind of teamwork has produced tremendous success for NEPPA. Knowing your job and being a subject matter expert are very important elements of an organization. Our staff excels in this area. Equally important are a willingness to explore new methods, to think outside the box, to listen to one another, and work to create solutions that benefit the team as a whole. By encouraging and supporting each other to grow in new directions, we have made great strides in strengthening NEPPA as an organization and we’ll be better prepared for the challenges we may face in the future.

It is my hope that “team America” will be able to do likewise.

Below: Virtual training with Steve Socoby, Director of Technical Training, NEPPA
Virtual Session for the Year 2 Apprentice Lineworker Program
Virtual @ Your-Site “Work Zone Safety” Session
NEPPA Mutual Aid
by Bonnie Biocchi, Executive Director

On the evening of May 15, 2020, a severe storm, resulting in a microburst hit the town of Groton, MA, wreaking havoc in many areas. Early the next morning, Groton Electric Light Department (GELD) put out the call for mutual aid. In less than 90 minutes, NEPPA Regional Coordinators were able to fulfill the request for 4 crews and a supervisor.

As a resident of Groton who lives in the most severely affected area, it made me proud to see our crews working so hard to restore power. Trees were snapped off and uprooted, trailers with equipment were overturned, vehicles suffered extensive damage and hundreds of trees were laid as flat as match sticks across a wide swath of this rural area. This is the worst damage I have seen since the ice storm in 2007.  Remarkably no one was killed or injured.

Incredibly, power to my home was restored within a few hours - a true testimony to the skill and commitment of GELD’s lineworkers and indeed, to the benefit of living in a public power community.  Seeing Littleton, Groveland, Danvers, Middleton and West Boylston crews working side by side with GELD crews highlights the value of our mutual aid program. And, as if storm restoration is not challenging enough, this particular effort was complicated by the pandemic. Fortunately, our Mutual Aid Committee had prepared and circulated the NEPPA Pandemic Checklist, which helped ensure that in addition to following the normal safety protocols, all crews preformed their duties utilizing these new additional standards.

I want to thank Nick Lawler and Dave Ketchen for their leadership and the Regional Coordinators and Committee for their continued commitment. NEPPA is fortunate to have an effective team that jumps into action whenever called. And a huge shout out to Kevin Kelly and his GELD team for a superb job under difficult circumstances. Well done all.

For additional details, check wonderful article published by APPA.

Keeping you informed 24/7
NEPPA's COVID-19 Resource Center
Upcoming Training & Events
As you know, we have made the decision to cancel this year’s Annual Conference—scheduled for August 16-18 th  at the Stoweflake Resort in Stowe, Vermont.  

This was not an easy decision to make, but given the on-going pandemic, and the many restrictions still in place, this is the safest and most sensible action to take.

We are planning a Virtual Annual Business Meeting for the end of July. We will be sending out more communtications soon! 
NEPPA offers hoisting Continuing Education and Test Prep classes for:
  • Hoisting 1B-1D (hoisting machine) - June 24, 2020
  • Hoisting 2A-2C (digging machines) - June 25, 2020
We are pleased to begin training again and gradually reopening the Training Center as we implement new visitor, trainer, and staff protocols (see below).

As it relates to the upcoming Hoisting Training being held June 24 - 25:
  • All visitors are expected to complete the NEPPA Heath Screening Form for Visitors
  • All visitors are required to wear a mask while in the facility.
  • If you do not have a mask, a disposable mask will be provided for you.
  • Maintain social distancing of 6’ whenever possible and please do not congregate in the halls.

Per mandated requirement, all classes are scheduled for 4 hours. These classes are for both, continuing education (to renew the license) and the test prep (to prepare for the test to receive a brand-new license).

ONLY test prep attendees are NOT required to attend the full 4 hours of class.
**Annual Conference - CANCELLED August 16-19, 2020, Stoweflake Resort, VT
September 3 , 2020 (11:00 am EST)

New Date - September 15, 2020
NEPPA Training Center
Littleton, MA

New Date - September 15, 2020
NEPPA Training Center
Littleton, MA

New Dates - Sept. 15 - 18;
Sept. 29 - Oct. 2; Oct. 20 - 23; Nov. 3 - 6
NEPPA Training Center
Littleton, MA

Lineworker's Rodeo *
September 24-25, 2020
NEPPA Training Center
Littleton, MA

New Dates October 6 - 7, 2020
NEPPA Training Center
Littleton, MA

Engineering Roundtable *
October 6, 2020 - (Tentative)
NEPPA Training Center
Littleton, MA

General Foremen's Roundtable *
October 7, 2020 - (Tentative)
NEPPA Training Center
Littleton, MA

Crew Leadership *
October 14 - 15, 2020
NEPPA Training Center
Littleton, MA

New Date Session III: October 27-29, 2020
New Date Session IV: April 13 - 15, 2021
NEPPA Training Center
Littleton, MA
New Date - October 29, 2020
NEPPA Training Center
Littleton, MA

New Dates - November 3 - 4, 2020
NEPPA Training Center
Littleton, MA

November 5, 2020 (11:00 am EST)

New Dates November 17 - 18 
NEPPA Training Center
Littleton, MA
2021 E&O Conference & Expo*
May 13 - 14, 2021
Doubletree Manchester Downtown
Manchester, NH

2021 Annual Conference *
August 22 - 25, 2021
Westin Portland Harborview
Portland, ME

Postponed Until 2021
(see website):

Advanced Lineworker Program

Metering II Program

Customer Service Leadership Program

Public Utility Accounting (APPA)

Work Order & Asset Management (APPA)

www.neppa.org for more information.
Members in the News
Mansfield Light Department to Reduce Rates
Mansfield, MA, June 2020 - M ansfield Municipal Electric Department (MMED), an MMWEC Member, has announced an across-the-board rate reduction for its customers.

MMWEC Receives Additional Funding for MLP Solar Rebate Program
LUDLOW, MA – May 29, 2020 – The partnership between the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC), the joint action agency for municipal utilities in Massachusetts, and the state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) will continue with round two of funding for the Municipal Light Plant (MLP) Solar Rebate Program.

Congratulations  to the following new General Managers !

Kenneth "Kenn" Lamb at Merrimac Municipal Light Departmen t (MA).
Robert Kuell at Town of Ashland Utility Department (NH) .
Bill Schofield at Van Buren Light and Power District (ME).

Congratulations  to Francisco Frias the new Assistant General Manager at Wellesley Municipal Light Plant (MA).

Best wishes  to  Bob Fagnant , Superintendent at the  Woodsville Water and Light Department  who has retired and Congratulations  to  Kevin Shelton who has been named to succeed Bob!

Also, Best wishes to Skip Dumais , who has retired from Van Buren Light and Power District (ME)..
Public Power always steps up!
We are so proud of the many efforts our members
are engaged in to promote health, safety and well-being
during the COVID-19 crisis.
Safety is job #1 at NEPPA!

We've returned to in-person training in New York and New England.
Mohawk, NY - June 4, 2020 - As always, safety is job #1 at NEPPA. We are excited to announce that we have returned to in-person training in New York! Check out this awesome picture of a masked Bill Hesson, thermometer in hand, following all safety protocols to ensure our systems are getting their training in the safest possible manner.

Did You know?
Email communications@neppa.org and request to receive weekly/monthly updates on New England Public Power Supply.

Northeast Public Power Association | communications@neppa.org | www.neppa.org