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APPA said yesterday it is concerned about a provision in President Obama's proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 that would impose a surtax on municipal bond interest. The association also expressed concern about a possible change to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s business model that is mentioned in the 2015 budget plan.

APPA "appreciates the president’s interest in spurring infrastructure investments," the association said, but "we believe that by repeating a proposal to impose an unprecedented federal surtax on municipal bond interest, his  fiscal year 2015 budget would do more harm than good."

Such a surtax, of up to 15.4 percent for bondholders in the top marginal income tax bracket, "would affect bond prices for all bondholders and not just those hit with the tax," APPA said. "In turn, this would drive up the interest rate demanded by all future investors—substantially increasing state and local borrowing costs," such as the costs of financing power plants, energy conservation programs and measures to improve grid security. Prior analysis of a similar proposal "indicates it would have increased the cost of a AAA-rated municipal bond issuance in 2012 by roughly 80 basis points, (e.g. from 3.2 percent to 4.0 percent)," APPA said.
 
The proposal is part of a plan that would also create a new Federal Infrastructure Bank, provide a refundable tax credit for renewable power generation and restart the Build America Bonds program by creating America Fast Forward Bonds.

Noting that nearly $12 billion in municipal bonds is issued every year to finance new power-related projects, APPA said the likely cost of the proposed tax on municipal bonds "dwarfs any additional savings or incentives proposed elsewhere in [the president's] budget."

Turning to the Tennessee Valley Authority, APPA voiced concern with "the president’s continued interest in reviewing TVA’s business model"  and said it does not believe federal ties with TVA should be severed.  In his FY 2015 budget to Congress this week, President Obama praised TVA for taking steps to improve its "future operating and financial performance," but signaled that he remains interested in working with Congress to cut federal ties to TVA.

"The administration continues to believe that reducing or eliminating the federal government’s role in programs such as TVA, which have achieved their original objectives, can help mitigate risk to taxpayers," the White House’s Office of Management and Budget wrote in an overview of the president’s budget request to Congress.

APPA noted that TVA was established by Congress in 1933 to address a wide range of issues, including the delivery of low-cost electricity and the management of natural resources. President Franklin D. Roosevelt also cited the need for a "yardstick" by which to judge other power providers.

"TVA continues to fulfill these roles today and the response should be to strengthen it for the future, not auction it off," APPA said. "It is also important to note that TVA is self-supporting, does not receive taxpayer dollars, and its debt is not taxpayer funded."

The association's full statement is posted in the Newsroom section of publicpower.org. —JEANNINE ANDERSON

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New York state is two years into an ambitious effort to rebuild the state's electric power system, with about $5.7 billion in investment—and as much as 3,200 megawatts of new generation and transmission capacity—planned within the next 10 years under partnership between New York and the private sector, the head of the New York Power Authority told a Washington, D.C., conference on Tuesday. "Almost a third of the new generation will come from renewable or repowered sources," said NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones.

New York is working on a number of fronts to improve the resilience of its power system in the face of extreme weather events and cybersecurity threats, and to update and harden plants and transmission lines, Quiniones told the EnergyBiz Securing Power Forum. Martin Rosenberg, editor in chief of EnergyBiz magazine, introduced Quiniones.

"I'm particularly pleased to be here, for a couple of reasons," the power authority chief said. "The first is the obvious importance of this conference in light of the extraordinary physical and cyber threats facing our power systems. Beyond that—with the wild weather we’ve endured this winter up and down the Eastern Seaboard and elsewhere—there was no guarantee this event would actually get off on schedule before the spring thaw. So I’m glad it did—and that we all could make it.

"Weather, of course, is at the heart of much of what we’re discussing here.  In case you were wondering, my state—New York—has had nine federally-declared weather-related disasters since 2011. We’re now getting rocked by 100-year storms—or 500-year storms—every two or three years.  
 
"All of this has dramatically demonstrated the need to rebuild, to harden and to radically revamp our systems. And while addressing that need, we must also combat the equally grim reality of growing cyber security threats on an international scale."

In the late summer of 2011, two tropical storms—first Irene and then Lee—hit with full fury in central New York, Quiniones said.  Irene devastated the area of the New York Power Authority’s 1,100-MW Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project, "and both storms threatened that facility and one of our small hydroelectric projects downstream," he said.

Thanks to aggressive emergency actions by NYPA staff, both plants escaped significant damage, he said. 

"But I can tell you, it wasn’t easy," the NYPA president said. "Never before had the power authority declared a Type B emergency—notification that a potentially hazardous situation is developing—under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission guidelines," he said. "With Irene, we did it twice."

Irene and Lee were a prelude to Hurricane Sandy, which hit the New Jersey and New York coast 14 months later, he said. Shortly after Sandy hit, Quiniones headed for Long Island at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s direction and spent much of the next two weeks there, working primarily "to coordinate communications between the state and the local utilities and to bring in lineworkers and tree trimmers from throughout the country and Canada" to help with the recovery.

"About 90 percent of the Island’s customers were without power at some point—many for extended periods," Quiniones said. "So I saw firsthand the striking effects—economic, physical, emotional—of a massive outage. And, along with some truly heroic efforts, I saw the problems—chiefly of workforce deployment, of gasoline supply, of communications–-that hampered the restoration of service and further fueled customer frustration and rage."

Within three weeks, the governor established four commissions to address these and the many other issues that arose in Sandy's aftermath, he said.

Members of one of those commissions included current and former officials from the utility industry, government, the academic world, the environmental community "and just about every other area with relevant expertise," Quiniones said. "They provided a wealth of recommendations—many of which have been implemented or are moving ahead."

"As one major example, legislation enacted last year transferred nearly all responsibilities of the Long Island Power Authority—the state-owned utility that serves the island—to a unit of PSEG of New Jersey."  Although PSEG had been scheduled to take over operation of the Long Island power system, its duties, including storm response,  "now go well beyond that," he said.

The Public Service Commission’s oversight and enforcement capabilities with respect to the state’s investor-owned electric and gas utilities have been expanded as well, he said. Last month, as part of a Con Edison rate case, the commission approved the private utility’s four-year, $1 billion plan to strengthen its electric, gas and steam systems.  In line with the new rate plan, Con Edison will study the technical and financial feasibility of installing microgrids and will expand its efforts to replace leak-prone gas pipes—including those in flood zones, Quiniones said.

A panel that Quiniones served on—the New York State 2100 Commission—called for measures to strengthen energy infrastructure, such as selectively undergrounding critical electric transmission and distribution lines, and also called for expanded reliance on microgrids, clean distributed generation, smart grid technologies and energy efficiency, he said. "We're seeing progress on each of these fronts," he said.

Quiniones focused his remarks on state initiatives, but also emphasized the importance of the federal government in storm preparation and response. For example, he said, New York's governor last month announced an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency calling for $1.4 billion in federal funds for repairs to the storm-damaged utility grid on Long Island and for help in lessening the effects of future disasters.

The federal government "also plays a critical role in New York’s extensive efforts to combat cybersecurity threats to our power system," Quiniones said. "We rely on the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies for reports, warnings and assessments, and general guidance."

"Ironically, while our industry’s reliance on the Internet to link its critical operating systems—and the growing use of smart grid technologies—provide immense advantages, they have also, in some ways, increased our vulnerability to cyber threats," he said.

Just over two years ago, Quiniones said, Cuomo launched his Energy Highway program, with the goal of modernizing the state’s electric power system. The Energy Highway plan "isn’t intended only, or even principally, to lessen the impact of storms or cyber attacks or to enhance our ability to recover from them," he said. "But by greatly strengthening the system’s resilience, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and paving the way to still more advanced smart grid features, it will contribute significantly to these goals."

New York also is making strides in promoting clean energy, promoting smart grid technologies and pursuing energy efficiency initiatives, he said. For example, NYPA is administering a program to reduce energy use in state government facilities by 20 percent by 2020.

Inevitably, efforts by New York and other states to design and create a reimagined power system have sparked concerns, he said.

"It’s said that the coming of microgrids and distributed generation will adversely impact utilities’ distribution systems and revenues. That if customers leave the grid, others—those least able to afford it—will be left behind to bear the costs of maintaining the system. That the new technologies could disrupt the current restructured wholesale energy markets and that these technologies cannot be integrated into the system without affecting the central-station power plant model."

"The truly integrated system that we envision will maintain the essential role of restructured wholesale markets and of traditional power plants and transmission and distribution lines," Quiniones said. But "it also must accommodate the innovative technologies and approaches that offer such promise for the future."

"Even if there had never been a Sandy—or an Irene or a Lee—we would have been compelled to replace key elements of the power system simply because of their age," he said. "But now we have a singular opportunity not merely to replace what exists, but to reimagine—and build—a stronger, smarter and more resilient grid."

His speech is posted on NYPA's website. —JEANNINE ANDERSON


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APPA is offering a series of five, in-depth safety and reliability courses at the association’s Spring Education Institute, May 5-9, at the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes hotel in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The courses are:
•    Analyzing and Improving Reliability with APPA’s eRelibility Tracker – May 5     

•    Overview and Practical Applications of the APPA Safety Manual – May 6         

•    Accident Investigation and Near Miss Reporting – May 7                                       

•    Personal Protective Grounding Practices – May 7                                                   

•    Overview and Application of OSHA Regulations that Apply to Public Power Utilities – May 8                     
 
The reliability class is designed for current users of the APPA tracker service, as well as those inter­ested in improving or maintaining reliability and learning about reliability analytics. The safety classes are designed for managers, safety professionals, engineers, and other utility staff who make decisions concerning safety. All courses incorporate public power case studies.

The half-day Analyzing and Improving Reliability with APPA’s eReliability Tracker course will review IEEE reliability concepts, review APPA’s eReliability Tracker system and provide tips to help users effectively analyze and report utility outage data.

In the full-day Safety Manual course, participants will learn about the application, organization and purpose of the APPA Safety Manual and the important changes effective with the 2012 edition. The manual has been revised and expanded since its prior publication in 2008. There are revised sections on: personal protective equipment guidelines, wireless electronic devices, pole-top rescue, security and CPR/first aid/AED. There are new sections on: bucket truck/aerial lift rescue, substations and hazardous energy control (underground section). There will be special emphasis on Section 507 (overhead distribution and transmission) to cover the intent and background of these safety rules. The course will be led by Mike Byrd, supervisor of safety and training for ElectriCities of North Carolina, and Mike Willets, director of training and safety for the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association. Each participant will receive a copy of the new manual.  

The third safety course, Accident Investigation and Near Miss Reporting, is also a half-day class. It will be led by Marc Machacek, regional safety coordinator for the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association. He will highlight the important role of near-miss reporting, developing a positive platform for reporting and recording near misses to prevent them from escalating to lost-time incidents, and conducting accident investigations, with emphasis on root cause analysis and how to use this information to prevent future incidents.

In the new, half-day Personal Protective Grounding Practices class, the instructor will cover the importance of personal protective grounding and proper grounding techniques. This class will be led by George Patrick, area supervisor of transmission operations for Santee Cooper in Moncks Corner, S.C.

A new, full-day course, Overview and Application of OSHA Regulations that Apply to Public Power Utilities, will cover requirements and best practices on some of the most important OSHA regulations and their application to situations commonly encountered at electric utilities. It will be led by Ron Cook, who has over 40 years of experience in the electric utility industry and specializes in safety and skills training.

Attendees can earn credits toward their professional certifications by attending these events. APPA offers continuing education units, professional development hours and continuing professional education credits for participating in courses.

In addition to these classes, the Spring Education Institute features in-depth courses on accounting, cost of service and rate design, conducting a utility financial check-up and two certificate programs on energy efficiency management and public power supervisory skills/leadership. There is a $100 discount for those who attend multiple courses or who attend with a colleague; and a $50 discount for registering before April 14.

For more information, visit www.APPAAcademy.org and click on "courses and workshops" or contact Meghan Riley at 202/467-2919 or MRiley@PublicPower.org. —HEIDI LAMBERT

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EVENTS CALENDAR

Webinar – Rating Agency Outlook for Public Power
March 6

2014 Legislative Rally
Washington, D.C.
March 10-12

DEED webinar – Helping Your Key Accounts Achieve Energy Savings from Retrofitted Industrial Fume Hoods
March 13

Webinar – Electric Utility 101: Transmission
March 19

CEO Roundtable
Phoenix, Ariz.
March 23-25

Webinar – Managing the Impacts of Distributed Generation
March 26

DEED webinar – Developing a Cost-effective Conservation Voltage Reduction Program
March 27


Webinar – Federal Legislative and Regulatory Issues for Boards
March 31

Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo
Oklahoma City, Okla.
April 4-5

2014 Engineering and Operations Technical Conference
Oklahoma City, Okla.
April 6-9

Webinar – The Management of Successful Customer Service Operations
April 8

Webinar – Investing in Intellectual Capital: How to Capture, Mentor and Retain Critical Knowledge and Skillsets
April 10

2014 Public Communications Committee Spring Issues Roundtable
Washington, D.C.
April 11

Webinar – Electric Utility 101: Distribution
April 16

Webinar – Cybersecurity Awareness Training Part III
April 17

DEED webinar – New Program Options to Engage High School Students on Energy Usage
April 23

Webinar – Determining Revenue Requirements for Your Utility
April 24

General Accounting, Finance & Audit Spring Meeting
Washington, D.C.
April 24-25

Webinar – Industry Issues and Challenges Facing Public Power Governing Bodies
April 30

Spring Education Institute
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
May 5-9

Webinar – Overview of Utility Financial Operations for Board and Council Members
May 13

Webinar – The Leadership Development Process
May 15

Webinar – Development of Cash Reserve Policies
May 20

Webinar – Technology: From Meter Reading to Customer Information Systems
June 3

DEED webinar – Energy and the Environment, a High School Curriculum for Public Power
June 11

Webinar – Accounting Standards and Reporting Framework Update
June 12

National Conference & Public Power Expo
Denver, Colo.
June 13-18


Webinar – Introduction to Legislative Issues and Grassroots Advocacy
June 25

Webinar – Rate Making for Utility Boards and City Councils
June 30


For a full APPA Events Calendar, visit Publicpower.org.


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CLASSIFIEDS

IT administrator—The City of Piqua, Ohio, is seeking qualified applicants for the position of IT administrator. Compensation: The salary range depends on qualifications and includes excellent benefits. Qualifications: The position requires completion of an associate's degree (bachelor’s degree preferred) in information technology, engineering or related field, with three to five years relevant work experience. This experience should include network administration (SCADA experience and/or CISCO CCNA desired). Apply: Please send a city application, a letter of interest, including salary history, a resume and three business references by March 28 to Elaine G. Barton, human resources director, by mail: City of Piqua, 201 West Water St., Piqua, Ohio 45356; or email: ebarton@piquaoh.org. Visit the city's website at www.piquaoh.org to obtain an application. EOE.

Strategic planning manager—The City of Anaheim, Calif., is recruiting for a strategic planning manager. The position directs, manages, supervises and coordinates the activities and operations of the Financial & Administrative Division within the Public Utilities Department, including rate development, utility strategic planning, financial forecasting and financial modeling. The position also coordinates assigned activities with other divisions, departments and outside agencies. Qualifications: Six years of increasingly responsible administrative services, financial reporting, financial planning, forecasting, operations analysis, strategic planning, technology and communications experience, including two years of administrative and supervisory responsibility supplemented by a bachelor's degree, is required. Apply: City of Anaheim, Calif., applications will be accepted on a continuous basis until a sufficient number of qualified applications have been received. The first review of applications on this position will be Feb. 28. Applicants are encouraged to apply early. Recruitment may close at any time without notice after the first review date. To apply, visit http://agency.governmentjobs.com/anaheim/default.cfm. EOE.

Electric utility engineer—The City of Redding Electric Utility (REU) in California is seeking an electric utility engineer. Compensation: The salary for the position is $5,539 to $8,790 per month. The position performs a variety of technical support functions related to development, implementation, integration and automation of technology systems used by the Electric Department. Qualifications: Typical education includes a bachelor’s degree in an engineering, computer science or information technology discipline from an accredited college, university or equivalent. Typical experience includes five years relevant experience. Experience within the electric utility industry is preferred. Apply: Apply online at www.ci.redding.ca.us by 11:59 p.m. on March 13. EOE/FAAE.

Senior electrical engineer—Burbank Water and Power (BWP) in California is seeking candidates for senior electrical engineer within the T&D Engineering Section of its Electrical Services Division. The senior engineer reports to the principal electrical engineer of the Substation, Protection & Automation Group. The senior engineer will be responsible for directing the design of electrical distribution system substations and their auxiliary electrical systems, including protective relay and substation automation equipment and underground conduit and cable systems for transmission and distribution. He/she may guide system planning studies, oversee system protection calculations and settings, direct the design of new electrical systems for buildings, make/direct preparation of cost estimates for electrical installations; supervise the preparation and review finished work drawings for electrical construction; prepare and direct development of specifications and requests for electrical equipment; review drafting and engineering calculations; serve in a technical advisory capacity for the site plan review process; supervise the maintenance of records relating to system operations; and make recommendations regarding hiring, promotions and transfers. The position performs other duties and responsibilities as directed. Qualifications: The minimum qualifications for this position are any combination of education and/or experience that has provided the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for acceptable job performance as determined by the city. An example combination includes, but is not limited to, a bachelor of science degree from an accredited college or university with major course work in engineering (preferably electrical), and four years of professional electrical engineering experience, including two years at the level of electrical engineering associate. A professional engineer's license is a plus. Knowledge of electrical engineering, design and operating practices related to electrical transmission and distribution and related auxiliary equipment is required. For additional information and a detailed profile, contact Steve Dowdy by office phone: 303/816-0047; cellphone: 303/601-3915; or email: sdowdy@dowdyrecruiting.com. Dowdy Recruiting, LLC.

Engineering assistants—The City of Redding Electric Utility (REU) in California is seeking two full-time engineering assistants to perform a variety of engineering assignments, including design, economic analysis, resource planning, study preparation and production, cost modeling, technical research and contract administration. Qualifications: The typical education would include a bachelor’s degree in engineering or other technical degree, including economics. Limited part-time or no experience is required. Apply: Apply online by 11:59 p.m. on March 31 at www.ci.redding.ca.us. EOE/FAAE.

Vice president, corporate services—Lincoln Electric System (LES) in Nebraska is recruiting for Vice President, Corporate Services. This position reports to the chief operating officer and oversees the Employee Resources Department, Transportation Department, Safety Department and Facilities Department. Requirements: The position requires proficient knowledge of human resources- and safety-related information systems, such as SAP and IndustrySafe, along with the ability to build and maintain internal relationships. The VP regularly interacts with LES’s administrative board and business consultants. Qualifications: Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree and a successful track record of increasingly responsible utility management assignments directing an organization similar to LES. Ten years of experience with facilities, safety, human resources and related information systems is preferred. A graduate degree in business is desirable. Lincoln Electric System is a municipally owned electric utility providing service to approximately 130,000 customers in Lincoln, Neb. LES employs a staff of approximately 475 non-union and union personnel. LES is governed by a nine-member administrative board. Apply: To apply, go to www.LES.com. LES is an EEO employer.


Check out APPA's career services on the Web

Visit the Career Center at PublicPower.org. Our career center allows job seekers to upload resumes, and recruiters to obtain resumes from job seekers. Classified ads in Public Power Daily and Public Power Weekly cost 70 cents per word for APPA members, and 80 cents per word for nonmembers, for a one-week run. Job posting subscriptions are available in packages of five, 10, or unlimited for a full year. The weekly deadline for placing a classified ad is every Thursday at 12 p.m. (Eastern time). If you have questions about classified ads, please write to jobs@publicpower.org, or call 202/467-2958.

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