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Keeping the lights on for customers "is of paramount importance to electric utilities," APPA President and CEO Sue Kelly told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday. Because electricity is produced and consumed instantaneously and follows the path of least resistance, "ensuring reliability and grid security is a collective affair," she said.

The hearing, "Keeping the Lights On — Are We Doing Enough to Ensure the Reliability and Security of the U.S. Electric Grid?" was convened by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., chair of the Senate energy committee, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the committee's ranking minority member.

The electricity industry’s top priority is to protect critical power infrastructure from cyber and physical threats by partnering with all levels of government and sharing critical information, noted Kelly.


Utilities have addressed threats to the electric grid for years, Kelly said.
Image credit: U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources



"Today, I represent investor-owned, cooperatively owned and publicly owned utilities, independent generators, and Canadian utilities," she said. "For very legitimate reasons, we often have different views on the policy issues facing our industry. On the issue of grid security, however, we have come together."

All sectors of the industry supported the mandatory electric reliability regime Congress created in Section 215 of the Federal Power Act. The industry also has worked with the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security to develop the Electricity Sub-sector Coordinating Council. The ESCC, which includes representatives from electricity trade associations, utilities and regional transmission organizations, "plays an essential role in coordination and information-sharing," Kelly said.

Utilities have addressed threats to the electric grid for years. Though cyber attacks, meteorological events and potential terrorist acts have driven much of the public discussion on grid security lately, "the threats to physical infrastructure have been around for many years," she noted.
 
Recent media reports have highlighted attacks on physical infrastructure, including the April 2013 incident at Pacific Gas and Electric’s Metcalf substation in California. While electric utilities take the Metcalf incident seriously, the notion that recent media stories suddenly spurred the industry to take action on grid security is inaccurate, Kelly said. Before the media reports appeared, government and the electricity industry had initiated a series of briefings across the country to help utilities and local law enforcement learn more about the Metcalf attack and its potential implications.

On March 7, 2014, — partly in response to the Metcalf incident — the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission directed the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to develop mandatory reliability standards governing the physical security of critical assets, and to do so within 90 days.

"APPA and our members, along with many other industry stakeholders, are participating in the NERC process to develop this important standard," Kelly said.

Kelly’s full testimony is available on the APPA website. —JEANNINE ANDERSON

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s inspector general told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Wednesday that sensitive information on potential physical security vulnerabilities of the nation's electric grid should have been handled as classified material. 
 
DOE Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman said he began a review last month in response to an alleged leak of modeling studies that exposed certain power grid vulnerabilities, and of "non-public information relating to the investigation of the April 2013 attack on the Pacific Gas and Electric Company's Metcalf substation" near San Jose, Calif.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the committee's ranking Republican, asked the inspector general to look into how the material came to be published in The Wall Street Journal. APPA, the Edison Electric Institute and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association wrote to the senators late last month voicing support for their efforts to look at how the information was handled.

"The Department’s subject matter experts have confirmed that at least one electric grid-related presentation created by Commission staff should have been classified and protected from release at the time it was created," the inspector general wrote in a "management alert" issued April 9. The DOE inspector general review is ongoing.

Murkowski commended FERC Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur for taking swift action in response to the inspector general’s report to secure the information in question. Inspector General Friedman said LaFleur had accepted all four of his recommendations.

Friedman said the leaked material raised concerns with the integrity of U.S. critical energy infrastructure, including the nation’s power grid.

"Based on preliminary information, we determined that the presentation was accessible to, and in specific instances, was viewed and handled by Commission employees who may not have had personnel security clearances and thus, were not fully aware of their obligation to protect the information," Friedman wrote. "Similarly, the document was reported to have been maintained on portable electronic equipment and transmitted via unsecured means. Finally, the document, and/or the essence of its contents, may, in whole or in part, have been provided to both Federal and industry officials in unclassified settings."

The inspector general wrote that the "methods used in creating and distributing this document led us to the preliminary conclusion that the commission may not possess adequate controls for identifying and handling classified national security information."

"This was a dangerous leak of highly sensitive information that should have been classified and closely guarded," Murkowski said. "Unfortunately, it’s now clear that under its previous leadership, FERC mishandled information that should have been classified. At best, a disclosure such as this has national security implications. At worst, it could endanger us all." —JEANNINE ANDERSON

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A selfless act by a lineworker during the APPA Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo, hosted by Edmond Electric in Oklahoma, prompted a manhunt on social media this week.

"Lineworkers are our industry’s first responders," APPA President and CEO Sue Kelly said. "When the weather goes bad, they brave ice storms, windstorms and scorching heat to keep the power on. They are our hometown heroes."


(Above) A search on social media identified the unknown lineworker. Illustration by Sharon Winfield.
(Below) Ryan Clearman, DME journeyman lineman, has worked for the Texas utility for two and a half years.
Photo courtesy of DME


Last weekend, one lineworker’s simple gesture sparked admiration nearly 200 miles away from his home.

"I’m looking for someone that I think was with the CPS team," said Oklahoma City resident Jenifer McElroy in a post to the APPA Lineworkers Rodeo Facebook page on Sunday, April 6.

While in the area for APPA’s annual event, the unknown man jumped into the Bricktown Canal to retrieve a girl’s skateboard that had fallen in, McElroy said.

"I wanted to thank him for doing that, but I don't have his name," McElroy said.

The man entered the "freezing water without even skipping a beat," Amanda Rae Davis, a Bricktown Water Taxi employee, posted to the page.

"He didn't know the girl and didn't care, he just didn't want her to cry," Davis said.

McElroy and Davis were only certain about one thing: the man was from Texas.

On Monday, April 7, APPA put out a search for the Good Samaritan. And, in only 28 minutes, a name surfaced: Ryan Clearman, a journeyman lineman for Denton Municipal Electric in Texas.

The water was only about three-feet deep, Clearman said. "I jumped in to grab the skateboard when I saw that no one else was going to jump in to grab it." —FALLON FORBUSH

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EVENTS CALENDAR

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

RP3 webinar – Reliability
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

RP3 webinar – Safety
April 25

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

RP3 webinar – Workforce Development
May 2

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

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

RP3 webinar – System Improvement
May 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

DEED webinar – DSTAR: Best Practices Guide to Preventing Copper Theft
May 21

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

Regulatory counsel—The American Public Power Association is recruiting for a regulatory counsel to assist in energy policy formulation and policy advocacy before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), federal courts, other federal/state agencies and industry policy forums. The incumbent participates in and monitors FERC dockets and NERC activities of interest to the association and its members, as well as advocates association positions in these forums and participates in coalitions on such matters with other industry associations and groups as appropriate. The incumbent also communicates with individual APPA utility members, groups of members and their counsel to develop and coordinate consistent policy positions. Required education and experience includes:

• a law degree and appropriate bar admissions to practice law before state and federal courts;
• prior relevant experience in FERC and NERC regulatory matters;
• broad experience in electricity policy issues;
• the ability to analyze legal issues, draft complex legal documents, understand multifaceted regulatory, technical and economic issues and develop solutions;
• the ability to help plan and organize educational offerings on areas of expertise for the association; and
• the ability to communicate effectively—verbal and written communications—and gain cooperation from staff, members, outside counsel, other industry association representatives, press and the public.

Apply: For more information, go to www.PublicPower.org. Interested candidates should email a cover letter and resume to HumanResources@PublicPower.org with "Regulatory Counsel" in the subject line. APPA is an equal opportunity employer.

Transmission and distribution systems operations manager—Tacoma Power in Washington is hiring a transmission and distribution systems operations manager to manage operations of the Energy Control Center, including shift operations of the system power dispatchers, dispatcher candidates and senior substation operators. The position supervises 29 employees. Compensation: The yearly salary is $118,456 to $151,860.80. Qualifications: The position requires a Bachelor of Science degree or completion of an electrical apprenticeship and five years experience. Apply: Inquire at www.mytpu.org/jobs.

Senior distribution planner—The City of Redding Electric Utility in California is seeking a senior distribution planner to design new and modify existing overhead and underground electric transmission and distribution facilities; develop master distribution system plans; and prepare work orders, estimates, material lists, cost of service studies and standard drawings. The candidate may also provide training and supervision to lower level classifications. Apply: If interested, please see the detailed job announcement and apply online at www.ci.redding.ca.us. This recruitment may close at any time with minimal or no notice, therefore; prompt application is encouraged. Please apply immediately. The position is open until filled. 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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