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The U.S. Court of Federal Claims last week awarded Energy Northwest $19.3 million in damages for the construction and licensing of a used fuel storage area at the Columbia Generating Station. The ruling comes nearly eight years after the same court ruled that the Department of Energy was in breach of contract for its failure to accept the utility’s used nuclear fuel.

The court said, "there is no dispute in this case that Energy Northwest has established with 'reasonable certainty' that it incurred at least $19,367,118 in costs to maintain its dry storage program which it would have incurred were it not for DOE's breach."

"Considering Energy Northwest's exhaustive and meticulous methodology — tested and, with respect to this $19.3 million, undisputed by the government's own experts — the Court concludes that there exists no factual or legal dispute as to Energy Northwest's entitlement to $19.3 million in costs incurred to continue to operate its dry storage program and that Energy Northwest is entitled to judgment as a matter of law for that amount," the federal court said in its March 11 ruling.

"This is another big victory for the region and the ratepayers of the Northwest," said Energy Northwest CEO Mark Reddemann. "However, this judgment does not resolve the issue of long-term storage of used nuclear fuel, nor does it lessen the legal obligation of the federal government to develop and manage that process." 

In the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, Congress directed the Energy Department to build a repository for nuclear waste and said DOE was to begin accepting spent fuel rods and other high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plant owners by 1998.

Energy Northwest said its court fight with DOE represents one of more than 60 such cases filed by nuclear utilities.

Energy Northwest had sought to recover a total of $24.9 million and said it will continue its effort to recover the remaining $5.6 million. —JEANNINE ANDERSON

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APPA President and CEO Mark Crisson and Jim Fama, vice president of energy delivery at the Edison Electric Institute, were interviewed for an episode of Nightly Business Report that looked at the vulnerability of the U.S. electric grid. The episode aired March 13 on PBS.

A report conducted by federal regulators found that "we could suffer a national blackout that could last for months if attackers knocked out the country's electric transmission substations," said Nightly Business Report co-anchor Susie Gharib as she introduced the news segment, called "Grid Vulnerability."

A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report, cited in a March 12 article in the Wall Street Journal, found that a relatively small-scale attack that targeted as few as nine of the nation's substations could plunge the United States into darkness for as long as 18 months, said reporter Eamon Javers. However, he said, "industry representatives say they are already taking steps to shore up the system."

"We are facing some new types of threats," Crisson acknowledged in the news report. "I don't want to suggest we are complacent at all," he said. "What I do want to stress is that we are continually looking at ways to enhance physical security."

In April 2013, trespassers at the Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s Metcalf substation near San Jose, Calif., fired shots at the substation for 19 minutes, disabling 17 large transformers, the reporter noted. Those responsible for the attack have not been found.

"The day after that attack, we had companies on the phone talking to Pacific Gas & Electric about what happened, how they dealt with it, sharing information," said EEI's Fama. "So we work together in a mutual assistance type approach."

Javers, the Nightly Business Report reporter, noted that FERC responded to the disclosure of its report's findings in the Wall Street Journal by saying the newspaper's report was "highly irresponsible." FERC added that, on March 7, it called for the North American Electric Reliability Corp. to develop mandatory reliability standards requiring owners and operators of the bulk power system to address risks due to physical security threats and vulnerabilities. (See Public Power Daily, March 10.)

FERC acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur last week criticized the Journal report, saying that publication of sensitive information gives "a roadmap" to potential attackers. (See Public Power Daily, March 14 .) —JEANNINE ANDERSON

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The U.S. electric power industry "has an essential responsibility to protect the physical integrity of the electric grid," APPA President and CEO Mark Crisson said in an op-ed piece published March 14 in The Hill's "Congress Blog."

Those who work in the electric industry "take that responsibility very seriously," Crisson said. "Thousands of men and women work hard every day to ensure Americans get the power they need, when they need it. This ethic of security has existed for decades, during war and peace time, and is coupled with measures to create redundancy and resiliency should an attack occur despite our protections.

"Thanks to these efforts, and investments in new technologies, industry has prepared for, prevented, and responded to attacks, while managing to keep the lights on. Of course bad things will happen, as last year’s sniper attack on the Metcalf substation in California demonstrates. So industry is committed to doing everything it can to keep the grid safe."

The industry record in this regard "is sound," Crisson writes. "Amidst the frenzy over the California attack, many overlooked the industry response, which was swift and successful. Though the attack was unsettling, officials were nonetheless able to redirect power, avoiding any interruption in service. This doesn’t mean industry is complacent about what happened. Far from it. But we want policymakers to be careful in how they react. Decisions made in haste, without all of the facts, can have unintended consequences adversely affecting grid security and reliability."

On March 7, he said, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered the North American Electric Reliability Corp. to propose security standards to FERC within 90 days. FERC will then consider NERC’s proposal in an agency rulemaking. In its order, FERC said the new federal standards will have to "require certain registered entities to take steps or demonstrate that they have taken steps to address physical security risks and vulnerabilities related to the reliable operation of the Bulk-Power System."

"The North American electric grid is a complex machine with many interconnected parts, including thousands of transmission lines, generating stations, and distribution facilities," Crisson said. "Thus, we hope FERC and NERC favor cooperative measures that allow nimble responses to ever-changing threats over mandates that impose prescriptive, rules-based requirements that become outmoded as technologies and threats evolve."

This does not mean that the industry opposes new security measures, he said: "We simply want policymakers to recognize the complexity of the electric system, and the measures that the industry has taken to protect it."

Any new steps taken "should enhance cooperation and information-sharing between industry and the federal government," he said.

The electric industry's partnership with government "is an essential part of our strategy to protect the grid." He noted that in 2010, the industry initiated high-level conversations with the federal government on major security matters. This resulted in a revamped Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), which partners with NERC and numerous federal agencies to improve the reliability and resilience of the electricity sector, including physical and cyber security infrastructure, he said.

The ESCC "serves as liaison between industry and government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission," Crisson said. "A principal function is to facilitate 'actionable information sharing' between government agencies and other industry sectors."

These security efforts "should give Americans confidence about the security of the grid," Crisson concluded. "Attacks are unfortunate, costly, and potentially disruptive to electric service. But overreactions leading to hasty policy decisions can have the same effect. As a former senior executive with a municipal power authority, I know first-hand that our existing security regime is working. It can certainly be improved, but let’s do it in a measured, thoughtful way that keeps the grid safe and the lights on."

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A second Texas solar farm, Alamo 2, is now generating power northeast of downtown San Antonio. Alamo 2, built by OCI Solar Power, is the second phase of the 400 megawatts the solar company is developing for CPS Energy as part of a 25-year power purchase agreement.

"The Alamo 2 solar farm moves us another step closer to making clean, carbon-free energy an even larger part of our diversified generation portfolio", said Cris Eugster, chief generation and strategy officer for CPS Energy. "This project also builds on our model of co-locating solar farms with waste water facilities."

OCI Solar Power developed the 4.4-MW solar farm in collaboration with the San Antonio River Authority (SARA), on a 45-acre parcel of land near the organization's Upper Martinez Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Using the wastewater treatment plant land for a solar farm "is a sustainable use for the property, while providing another example of the synergy created when public services unite for the greater community benefit," said SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott. "We look forward to similar future partnership opportunities."
 
Additional phases of the 400-MW OCI Solar Power project are in various stages of development. The 41-MW Alamo 1 solar farm has been generating power on the city’s South Side since December. Alamo 3 will begin construction in San Antonio this year, and Alamo 4 is a 39-MW project currently under construction in Brackettville, Texas.

Once complete in 2016, the entire OCI project will power 10 percent of San Antonio homes. CPS Energy currently has 85 MW of solar power in commercial operation. —JEANNINE ANDERSON
 
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Video dispatches recorded during APPA's 2014 Legislative Rally in Washington, D.C., last week are available for viewing on Public Power TV. In the most recent video, Gary Stauffer, chairman of the APPA board of directors, reflects on this year's rally. Also from the event, APPA President and CEO Mark Crisson reflected on another successful Legislative Rally and a successful career in public power.

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EVENTS CALENDAR
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

DEED webinar – Better Building Practices Toolkit for New Residential Construction
May 8

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

DEED webinar – Customizable Weather Database Helps Utilities Handle Customers' High-Bill Complaints
August 20


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


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CLASSIFIEDS
Project engineer—Moorhead Public Service (MPS) in Minnesota is accepting applications for a project engineer. Qualifications: A four-year degree in electrical engineering is required. Preferred qualifications include:

• one year of utility experience working on generation, transmission or substation projects;
• possession of or the ability to obtain an EIT Certificate within one year of hire;
• possession of or the ability to make progressive steps toward obtaining a Professional Engineer designation in the state of Minnesota within five years of hire; and
• experience with SCADA and load management control systems.

The successful applicant will provide electrical engineering services for the Electric and Water Divisions of MPS. Responsibilities include all substation systems, transmission line systems, SCADA systems and other technical systems and projects as assigned. This position directs the design, installation and upgrading of substation additions, transmission line projects, SCADA equipment and other technical systems within the utility. Compensation: The monthly salary range is from $4,876 to $6,966. Benefits include pension (Minnesota Public Employee Retirement Association), low deductible health insurance (no cost for single coverage) and generous vacation and sick leave. Apply: The application and job description are available online at www.mpsutility.com/employment; at the MPS office in Moorhead City Hall, 500 Center Ave., Second Floor; or by calling 218/299-5400. Applicants MUST complete an MPS Application for Employment to be considered for employment with MPS. EOE. The closing date for the position is March 21. Click here for a direct link to the job notice and application form.

Chief executive officer—Harlan Municipal Utilities (HMU) in Iowa is seeking a CEO with strong leadership abilities. HMU is located in the western Iowa county seat of Harlan, which has a population of 5,282. HMU provides electricity, natural gas, water and telecommunications services. The utility is governed by a five-member board of trustees. Qualifications: The successful candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in business, engineering or other pertinent field from an accredited institution. Five years’ experience of demonstrated leadership and management in the utility industry is required. There is also a residency requirement. Compensation: Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications. A generous benefits package is available, including health, life and dental insurance, Section 125 Cafeteria Plan, IPERS and a 457B deferred compensation plan. Apply: Applicants should send a resume, salary history and three business references by email to recruiter@harlannet.com. The position is open until filled. For additional information, click here. A pre-employment drug screen and background check is required. EOE.

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.

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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