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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on March 20 initiated steps to improve the coordination and scheduling of natural gas pipeline capacity with electricity markets in light of increased reliance on natural gas by electric generators. Most notably, the commission proposed to revise the natural gas operating day and the practices used by interstate pipelines to schedule natural gas transportation service.

The proposed revisions include starting the natural gas operating day earlier, moving the timely nomination cycle later, and increasing the number of intra-day nomination opportunities to help shippers adjust their scheduling to reflect changes in demand. The commission issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to gather public comments on its proposals.

The notice provides 180 days for the natural gas and electric industries to reach consensus on standards, including any modifications to the commission’s proposed revisions through the North American Energy Standards Board. Public comments on the commission’s proposals, as well as comments on any consensus standards, are due within 240 days.

In a separate but related order, the commission initiated investigations under Section 206 of the Federal Power Act into the day-ahead scheduling practices of regional transmission organizations to ensure that their scheduling practices correlate with any revisions to the natural gas scheduling practices that may be adopted by FERC.

In a third related order, the commission issued a show cause order under the Natural Gas Act requiring all interstate natural gas pipelines to provide for the posting of offers to purchase released pipeline capacity in compliance with commission regulations, or to otherwise demonstrate full compliance with that regulation. All filings must be submitted to FERC within 60 days of the issuance of the order (Docket No. RP14-442-000).

"This past winter has highlighted the critical and growing interdependence of natural gas pipelines and electricity markets," acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur said. "Today’s orders take steps to recognize and address that interdependence to optimize the use of our gas and electric networks for the benefit of all customers. We look forward to receiving comments from a wide range of stakeholders."

"Today’s set of orders build upon our earlier efforts to better coordinate the actions of the natural gas and electricity industries, with particular emphasis now on improving the scheduling practices of the natural gas transportation and electricity markets," Commissioner Philip Moeller said. "I appreciate the extensive efforts undertaken to date by various industry groups, and urge all stakeholders to review our proposals and suggest potential improvements."

Comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking may be filed electronically using FERC’s eFiling procedures within 240 days of publication in the Federal Register. Instructions are found at www.ferc.gov under the "Documents and Filings" tab. —ROBERT VARELA

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a 10-year pilot license to the Snohomish County, Wash., Public Utility District for its proposed Admiralty Inlet Pilot Tidal Project to be located in the Puget Sound. The 600-kilowatt  experimental project is designed to determine whether commercial development of the tidal energy resources of Puget Sound is commercially viable. The March 20 order authorizes Snohomish to study, monitor, and evaluate the environmental, economic, and cultural effects of hydrokinetic energy.

"Anyone who has spent time on the waters of Puget Sound understands the power inherent in the tides," said Snohomish PUD General Manager Steve Klein. "In granting this license, the FERC acknowledges the vigilant efforts of the PUD and its partners to test the viability of a new reliable source of clean energy while at the same time ensuring the protection of the environment and existing uses."

The project, which will be located in Admiralty Inlet, west of Whidbey Island, Wash., will be the first grid-connected array of large-scale tidal energy turbines in the world, Snohomish PUD said. It will involve the installation, operation and evaluation of two turbines at a depth of about 200 feet. The utility plans to move forward on contractual agreements, construction and deployment over the next two years. The turbines would be installed for a period of three to five years, the PUD said.

"The Admiralty Inlet Project is an innovative attempt to harness previously untapped energy resources," acting FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur said. "I look forward to the results of the experimental project and congratulate Snohomish for undertaking it." Other commissioners also applauded Snohomish for tackling the demonstration project.

In issuing the license, FERC said it carefully considered the effect the Admiralty Inlet Project would have on sections of an under-sea fiber optic communication cable between the United States and Japan. FERC concluded that, with appropriate safety measures, the Admiralty Inlet Project would not pose a risk to the cable.

The pilot license contains measures to protect fish, wildlife, cultural and aesthetic resources, navigation and existing infrastructure. The license also contains several monitoring and adaptive management requirements to adequately protect against any adverse impacts from the project. LaFleur said the protections are well thought out.

During its public process, the utility engaged numerous stakeholders, including local, state and federal agencies, tribal groups, business organizations and residents.

The proposed tidal turbines are manufactured by OpenHydro of Dublin, Ireland, the PUD said. Each turbine measures 6 meters in diameter, with a 414-ton total weight. The foundation is secured by gravity only (no piling or pinning needed). The turbines have only one moving part and require no lubricating oils or greases. Subsea cables will connect to shore on PUD-leased land south of the Coupeville Ferry Terminal, where it will connect to the electrical grid.

Admiralty Inlet "offers attractive features, including swift currents, good access, a rocky seabed floor with little sediment and vegetation, and viable grid connections," the PUD said March 20. "The inlet is a very large body of water, which makes the footprint of the pilot plant small by comparison and helps to minimize any impacts."

The PUD said it has worked with many technical partners on project studies covering areas such as acoustics, underwater topography (bathymetry), marine life, underwater monitoring, geotechnical data and water quality. Partners have included the University of Washington, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Sound & Sea Technology and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The pilot project has been supported with grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, Bonneville Power Administration and federal appropriations.

OpenHydro projects in other parts of the world have shown no impact on marine life, the PUD said. Scotland’s Orkney Islands (another OpenHydro site) have an ecologically diverse and productive marine ecosystem that is home to numerous fish species, shellfish, dolphins, seals, porpoises, whales and migrating turtles. "Operations at the site have been continuously videotaped, and no marine life incidents have been recorded," the PUD said. "OpenHydro’s experience has been that fish and marine mammals do not interact with the tidal device." —ROBERT VARELA

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As a result of pipeline constraints and high demand, natural gas prices in New England rose by 76 percent in 2013, pushing wholesale electricity prices in the region up 55 percent, from $36.09 per megawatt-hour in 2012 to $56.06/MWh in 2013, ISO New England said. Natural gas accounted for about 46 percent of the electricity generated in New England in 2013.

Pipeline constraints, particularly in winter when home heating needs raise demand for natural gas, have pushed up the average spot price for natural gas in New England to the highest in the country, the ISO said. "Until new infrastructure alleviates these pipeline constraints, prices for natural gas and wholesale electricity are likely to remain volatile."

"The wholesale price of power in New England’s competitive markets is based on input costs," said ISO New England President and CEO Gordon van Welie. "Higher fuel prices result in higher power prices. New England sits on the doorstep of the Marcellus shale, which has increased supply and lowered natural gas prices significantly, at least in areas of the country that can access that gas. However, the limited pipeline capacity coming into New England means that sometimes natural-gas-fired generators have difficulty getting fuel, and that not only pushes up prices, it also creates a risk to reliable operation of the power system."

New England’s governors have offered a proposal to spur investment in natural gas pipeline expansion in the region, the ISO said. The proposal would seek a tariff addition to allow the ISO to collect gas pipeline costs from electric market participants. The ISO said it has agreed to work with industry stakeholders and policymakers to discuss this initiative.

In 2013, preliminary figures show that the price of natural gas averaged $6.97 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), up 76 percent from the 2012 record low price of $3.95/MMBtu, the ISO said. The highest annual average price for natural gas in New England occurred in 2008 at $10.07/MMBtu, when wholesale electricity prices hit an all-time high of $80.56/MWh.

Overall, demand for electricity rose slightly in New England in 2013, by about 1.0 percent, to 129,350 gigawatt-hours (GWh). When annual variations in weather are factored out, which allows demand to be evaluated on a comparable basis from year to year, electricity consumption would have dropped 0.4 percent to 127,754 GWh in 2013 compared with the weather-normalized 128,249 GWh of electricity consumed in 2012, the ISO said. —ROBERT VARELA

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Just six years ago carbon capture and sequestration, known as CCS, "looked like it could become something of an energy tech star, perhaps the salvation of the country’s coal industry," says an article in Public Power magazine.

Fresh off the 2008 election, President Barack Obama vowed to create a national cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Market observers saw growing demand ahead for CCS, a process that captures and compresses carbon dioxide at a power plant and then injects the emissions underground for storage or reuse. The technology’s prospects heightened as Obama channeled $3.4 billion of stimulus money into demonstrating its worth.

Fast forward to today—cap-and-trade never came to be, and CCS still has not been fully tested on coal-fired plants, says the article, written by Elisa Wood.

Unable to convince Congress to adopt cap-and-trade, the Obama administration is instead creating rules under the Clean Air Act that place restrictions on CO2 emissions. The first set of rules, re-proposed in September by the Environmental Protection Agency, apply to new plants. A new plant must now adhere to a limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour. Most new coal plants emit about 1,950 pounds per megawatt-hour.

Industry observers say only CCS technology reduces emissions by that much. So the question becomes: Will CCS be ready for use by new coal power plants?

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has publicly expressed confidence that the technology will be ready six years from now. Others are skeptical. Yes, CCS may work in laboratories or on a small scale, they say. And carbon dioxide can clearly be captured at small scale on industrial facilities where the CO2 is used in food or chemical processing, but not permanently stored. The United States has yet to demonstrate that the technology works on large, commercial coal-fired power plants.

Read more about the debate on this technology in, "CCS: A race already lost?," on publicpower.org.

Subscriptions to the electronic and print editions of Public Power and all other APPA periodicals are free to all employees and governing board members of APPA member utilities and associate members. An online subscription signup form is on publicpower.org.

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The 2014 APPA National Conference will feature many sessions and seminars to educate and inform utility governing boards and policymakers.

Some of these sessions include:

•    Industry Issues and Challenges Facing Public Power Governing Boards;
•    Rating Agencies on Public Power;
•    Creating a Culture of Reliability, Safety and Compliance; and
•    Making Decisions: Retire vs. Retrofit.

The conference also offers sessions on major issues utilities are facing to help utility boards and executives with their long-term strategic planning, including cyber and physical security, reliability and infrastructure, federal legislative and regulatory issues, and more.

The National Conference is public power’s largest annual conference, attracting more than 1,500 attendees each year, including elected and appointed utility board members, mayors, city council representatives, utility executives, senior managers and industry partners.

The 2014 National Conference will be held June 13-18 in Denver, Colo., at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. The complete conference program and registration information is available at www.publicpower.org/NationalConference.  —LEANNE NIENHUIS

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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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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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