NEPPA eNewsletter

February 2016

The passing of David Bowie on January 10 impacted many people who he had touched with his music, art and acting. As the quote above indicates, one of Bowie’s most enduring lessons is to embrace change in order to be successful. While we aren’t quite ready for the NEPPA equivalent of Ziggy Stardust, we have been implementing changes here in the organization that will help us succeed in meeting your needs moving forward.

The senior staff and I have been discussing the best alignment of our staff for most of the time I have been here at NEPPA. We carefully considered the potential budgetary impact of any decisions we made about staffing or the outsourcing of activities. After much deliberation, I am happy to announce the following structure of the NEPPA staff:

Director of Membership & Marketing – Kris DiGirolamo
After many years of wearing many hats, Kris will be focusing her attentions on the role of Director of Membership & Marketing. She will be responsible for developing and implementing NEPPA’s strategies for engaging with members in alignment with the organization’s mission and strategic plan. She will also be responsible for all aspects of NEPPA’s membership services, including acquiring new members, efficiently and effectively serving existing members, and developing member programs and services. By every measure Kris is excited about this new role and I truly believe she will take NEPPA to even greater heights with this renewed focus.

Director of Administration & Finance – TBD
With Kris vacating the role of Controller, we will be hiring a Director of Administration & Finance. The Director will be responsible for overseeing the Association’s financial planning and budgeting, human resource management, and office administration management. The Director will also work collaboratively with the leaders of the Association to provide financial direction and staff leadership to assure that NEPPA meets its strategic goals. We have submitted the job posting to a number of outlets and have already received a great deal of interest.

Director of Training & Education – Steve Socoby, CUSP
Steve will continue in the role of Director of Education & Training. He will directly supervise all of the training staff and oversee the development and quality of our programs. Steve is an exemplary leader and advocate for NEPPA and I know we all have every confidence in his continued success in this role.

Coordinator, Training & Education – Colleen Delsignore
Colleen has been promoted to the position of Coordinator, Training & Education. She will support NEPPA’s training staff in the planning and delivering of the Association’s education and training programs. She is responsible for all relative administrative tasks, including scheduling, correspondences, preparation of materials, and maintenance of attendee records. She will report directly to Steve. Colleen is simply outstanding in every aspect of her work here at NEPPA and I truly believe she will thrive in this new position.

This new structure will also require us to add a new administrative assistant in the future. While this may seem like a wholesale reorganization, the reality is that it is much more about codifying the roles that our dedicated staff already fill and ensuring that they have every opportunity to be successful in delivering the excellent services you have come to expect from NEPPA. Or as Bowie taught us, by challenging ourselves we are able to give you something better and different than you ever expected.
Vermont Regulators Approve Transmission Plan

Plans for a 1,000-megawatt transmission line to be built between the Canadian border and Ludlow, Vt., moved forward last month when Vermont’s Public Service Board approved TDI New England’s proposal to build a 154-mile underwater and underground line through the state.

Called the "Clean Power Link" by its developer, the project is aimed at delivering renewable energy from Canada to New England’s power grid. The $1.2 billion project is planned to run under Lake Champlain and then underground along public rights of way from Benson to Ludlow.

The project has won support from environmentalists and other interest groups, with TDI’s efforts to reach out to stakeholders described by one Vermont regulator as "a textbook case of how to do this right."

The project still requires final federal permitting, but the current project timeline calls for construction to commence in 2016, with commercial operation in 2019.

Two Vermont Municipals Gain Local Approval for Solar Projects

Voters in the Vermont communities of Stowe and Hyde Park have each approved community-based solar projects proposed by their local utilities. Among other benefits, the projects address the state’s new standards for renewable energy. See the Vermont Public Radio story.

Bilda Praised for ‘Bailing the City Out’

Norwich, Conn., Public Utilities General Manager John Bilda returned to NPU full-time on Feb. 1 after also serving as Acting City Manager for nearly a year.

"There was a lot that I learned about municipal government, and it’s only going to make me a better leader," Bilda said in a recent interview about his successful dual role. "I’ve had an opportunity to really connect the Norwich utilities with the city government over here, so that’s not only in the best interest of NPU, but the entire City." See the entire news story at

Wakefield, Mass., Utility Supports Local Charity

Wakefield (Massachusetts) Municipal Gas & Light Department is once again partnering with Mission of Deeds, a local charity, to collect bedding for the needy this winter. The utility has been an active supporter of the annual effort since 2004. "WMGLD customers and staff have been extremely generous in their donations," said the charity’s spokesperson. "We are grateful to everyone for their support."

Welcome to Our Newest Utility Members

• North Attleborough Electric Department provides electric service within the 19-square-mile Town of North Attleborough, Mass., serving a population of 28,000 with about 13,000 meters.

"We’re delighted to re-join NEPPA," said NAED General Manager James Moynihan. "We’ve utilized NEPPA continuously in the past for providing training for our employees, and have valued that relationship. We also recognize the value of having a single voice representing our legislative and industry interests in both New England and D.C."

• Norwood Municipal Light Department serves the town of Norwood, Massachusetts' 30,000 population with about 15,000 meters covering 10.4 square miles. "We’re very happy to be members," said Norwood Light’s Superintendent Jim Collins, who cited NEPPA’s training programs as a significant factor in the decision to become a first-time member.

"I’ve been here for close to 40 years, and we’ve always used NEPPA’s safety programs," Collins said, adding that it made sense to join and take advantage of the lower member program rates.

• The Village of Northfield Electric Department serves about 1,900 customers in the Vermont towns of Northfield, Berlin and Moretown. Jeff Schulz is Manager of this first-time NEPPA member utility, whose Northfield location is home to Norwich University.


NEPPA’s Newest Associate Members

Utilitricians specializes in testing transformer-rated metering sites, verifying the sizing and accuracy of existing installations, and correcting any issues that are identified. Partners Matt Roy and Brad Dean have more than 50 years of combined electric utility metering experience, and provide services to supplement today’s leaner metering staffs.  

"We can help fill the void that smart meters have caused in meter departments,"  said Roy. "We’d like to make more contacts, and see what utilities might be looking for that we can provide."

Contact Matt Roy at 508-838-4730 or Brad Dean at 508-695-5156. Located in North Attleboro, Mass., their email is

Netwatch, a utilities security specialist with offices at 90 Oak St., Newton, Mass., offers an integrated security package aimed at protecting sites such as substations, gas relay stations, and power plants. Their systems feature remote video monitoring that can watch for signs of unwanted activity and react to live incidents.

Thomas Walsh, regional systems specialist, says his company stands out with its advanced technology, turnkey managed service, and experience with more than 400 utility sites.

Contact Thomas Walsh at 781-333-9382 or email
Walsh will attend  NEPPA’s Engineering Kickoff on March 16, and will also be at
NEPPA’s Engineering & Operations Conference and Expo June 8 and 9 to present a live demo.

A.A. MacPherson Co., Inc., Electrical Manufacturers’ Representatives, specialize in transmission, distribution, substation and automation equipment for customers throughout New England. Now celebrating its 75th anniversary, this returning member is currently refocusing on municipal utilities.

"We represent the highest quality global manufacturers, and we’re looking forward to seeing the municipals in New England," said owner Joseph M. Gately, who is also the company’s VP of sales.

The company is headquartered at One Pequot Way, Canton, Mass. Contact Joe Gately at 781-828-9400, email, or visit You can also stop by their exhibit at NEPPA’s Engineering & Operations Conference and Expo June 8 and 9.

Don’t miss our Engineering Kickoff to be held March 16 at the NEPPA Training Center in Littleton. Hosted by NEPPA’s Engineering Committee, the kickoff features three speakers, plus a drone demonstration. This free event also includes a Continental breakfast, lunch, and the chance to network and brainstorm future topics. Find more details here and register now.

The Keene State College OHSA Training Institute Education Center, a NEPPA associate member, for the first time is holding a course at the NEPPA Training Center in Littleton, Mass. The four-day Trainer Course in Occupational Safety and Health Standards for Construction runs March 14-17, and is open to NEPPA members and non-members alike. Prerequisites apply, and pre-registration is required. Learn more or register.

Associate Member AvCom, Inc. is partnering with Power Monitors, Inc. to present a seminar on power quality issues on March 15 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., including lunch, at the NEPPA Training Center, Littleton, Mass.

The seminar is aimed at both power monitor equipment users and anyone concerned with solving power quality issues. Topics will include how to identify and record basic problems such as low voltage and flicker, along more complex issues such as transients and harmonics. Register by emailing Fred Avila at

March 29 - April 1
April 12 - 15
May 3 - 6
May 24 - 27

This 16-day program will combine classroom instruction with hands-on, practical applications in the field. The class will be held at the NEPPA Training Center in Littleton, Mass., and in our new substation training area. Click here to learn more.
March 28
April 11
May 2
May 23
September 19
October 3
November 14
December 5

This 8-day program will provide an in-depth review of advanced metering concepts, technologies and applications for public power meter professionals.The class will be held at the NEPPA Training Center in Littleton, Mass. Click here to learn more.
February 29
March 21

This 4-day program will cover: metering safety, an intro to metering, mathematics for metering personnel, demand metering, basic electrical circuits, basic electrical theory, self-contained versus transformer rated meters, and an intro to solid state meters.The classes will be held at the NEPPA Training Center in Littleton, Mass. Click here to learn more.
Energy Bill on Senate Floor

On Jan. 27, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) brought S. 2012, the broad-ranging energy policy bill reported by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last summer, to the floor for consideration by the full Senate.

The bill, also known as the "Energy Policy Modernization Act," includes numerous provisions organized under four main titles: infrastructure, supply, workforce development, and accountability. It includes measures to hasten natural gas exports, modernize the grid, and streamline hydropower permitting, among other things.

S. 2012 would require ISO-New England to demonstrate how its forward capacity market provides "enhanced opportunities for self-supply," but does not require any changes to market rules to allow self supply, as sought by NEPPA, APPA and NRECA.

While a process for amendments and floor time has not been confirmed, the Senate could take up to three weeks on the bill, under an open amendment process whereby any Senator could offer any amendment to the bill. However, this process could easily load the bipartisan bill with "poison pills" and cause it to fail or be vetoed.

Senators have been invited to submit amendments, but it is not yet clear what might be offered. NEPPA, APPA, and others are still pushing for a Senator, possibly Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), to offer the capacity resource choice language developed in advance of the bill’s consideration by the Energy Committee.

Amendments that failed in Committee could also be offered again, such as one by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to create a federal efficiency resource standard for retail suppliers of electricity and natural gas and/or another by Sen. Angus King (I-ME) to require utility commissions and locally regulated utilities to consider the benefits of distributed generation, which the electric sector opposed in Committee.

The electric sector is also concerned that an amendment on electro-magnetic pulse events may be offered that would undermine the current standards development process. There are also likely to be highly partisan amendments to roll back Administration rulemakings and to advance measures to combat climate change.

Morgan Meguire will continue to report as amendments are filed and become public.

FERC issued Order 745, the rule in question that required market operators to pay DR aggregators the same price as generators, under a theory that DR affects wholesale rates and may therefore be regulated under the Federal Power Act.

Challengers, including APPA and NRECA, asserted that DR is a retail function, to be regulated by state and local governments. The Court rejected that argument, saying, "A FERC regulation does not run afoul of [the Act’s delegation of retail regulation to states] just because it affects the quantity or terms of retail sales. Transactions occurring on the wholesale market have natural consequences at the retail level, and so too, of necessity, will FERC’s regulation of those wholesale matters. That is of no legal consequence."

Generators had also questioned the payment level to DR aggregators, given that they, unlike generators, do not need to pay for fuel and steel in the ground. In Order 745, FERC had considered subtracting the energy savings DR participants see (from foregoing the power they would have consumed) from the payment they receive for the same action, but declined to reduce the payments. Although the lower court called that decision "arbitrary and capricious," the Supreme Court roundly rejected challengers’ arguments on that issue, deferring to FERC’s assessment that both generation and DR benefit the wholesale market equivalently and should be paid equally.

The Court remanded the case to the D.C. Circuit to determine the fate of DR in capacity markets, but given the ruling on FERC’s jurisdiction under the Federal Power Act, the lower court is likely to maintain FERC control there as well.
The brief order did not give the Court’s reasoning, beyond stating that petitioners had not met the required showing for a stay. However, under controlling law, petitioners would have had to show that leaving the Clean Power Plan in place would result in irreparable harm. Since compliance would not begin until 2022, the Court was likely unconvinced by this argument.

Petitioners have appealed this decision to the Supreme Court, an unusual move, potentially designed to force the high court to rule on the merits of the case before the D.C. Circuit does. The lower court has established an expedited schedule for consideration of the case, with oral arguments scheduled for June 2.
Grid Assurance was formed in June 2015 as a private sector option for a federal spare transformer program, like the one Congress directed the Department of Energy to develop in the energy provisions enacted as part of the 2015 transportation bill, in response to concerns about the length of time it could take to replace critical large transformers damaged by a natural disaster or deliberate attack.

Grid Assurance plans to make available spare transformers on a subscription basis, to companies that suffer equipment losses from terrorism, geomagnetic storms, electro-magnetic pulse or other catastrophic events. The company seeks an order from the Commission declaring that the proposed cost-based fees will be considered prudent investments by FERC-jurisdictional utilities, ensuring their recovery from consumers.
Clark’s one term on the Commission will end June 30, but he could stay on until the end of the calendar year.

Previous to his service at FERC, Clark chaired the North Dakota Public Service Commission and served in the cabinet of former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer (R) as Labor Commissioner.

Clark’s departure will leave two open seats on the five-person Commission. Former Commissioner Phil Moeller stepped down in October and has accepted a job as Senior Vice President at the Edison Electric Institute.
American Superconductor
Baron USA, Inc.
Invoice Cloud
Workplace Safety Soutions, Inc
National Information Solutions Cooperative