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Incumbent transmission providers will maintain an edge when bidding for transmission projects on their "home turf," even with the elimination of the right of first refusal, or ROFR, from regional tariffs as called for under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 1000, Moody’s Investors Service said in a Sept. 3 report.
 
In the report, Moody’s said that incumbents "will maintain an edge in bidding on their home turf because of long-held relationships with regulators; existing rights of way; proven operational track records; and knowledge of the network in their service territory."

FERC initially issued Order 1000 in 2011. Since then, the decision "is becoming more relevant and driving changes in the competitive landscape of the US electric transmission sector" through the removal of ROFR, Moody's said.

Order 1000 requires public utility transmission providers to improve transmission planning processes and allocate costs for new transmission facilities to beneficiaries of those facilities.

"Historically, when new transmission projects arise due to needs such as reliability concerns or congestion, the incumbent transmission provider gets the ROFR," Moody’s said. "Based on recent activity spurred by Order 1000, we believe incumbents and large transmission providers will maintain an edge in the competitive bidding process."

In addition, large transmission owners "are best positioned to win new transmission projects put up for competitive bids," the rating agency went on to say.  Large transmission owners such as American Electric Power, Duke Energy and ITC Holdings, among others, have "developed sizable transmission networks across several states. By developing and running efficient and effective transmission systems through economies of scale, these transmission providers gain an advantage."
 
Meanwhile, some states are helping incumbent utilities secure the rights to construct transmission by codifying ROFR laws in state legislatures, thereby restricting competition on certain transmission projects, Moody’s noted.

"The actions effectively mitigate one of the goals of Order 1000 and set up a potential legal fight involving state and federal jurisdictions. While we expect more states to consider ROFR laws, the outcome of a potential legal challenge is likely to determine how many ultimately succeed in protecting incumbents."

A federal appeals court last month upheld Order 1000, turning aside the arguments of various parties. Prior to the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a large number of petitioners — including APPA and a number of its member utilities — had asked the court to review parts of the order.

For its part, APPA focused on one issue – the "public policy requirements" provision in Order 1000. APPA asserted that the provision clashed with FERC’s obligations under Section 217(b)(4) of the Federal Power Act (see Public Power Daily, August 18, 2014). Under that section of the FPA, FERC must use its authority to facilitate the planning and expansion of the transmission grid to meet the reasonable needs of load-serving entities. —PAUL CIAMPOLI

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Just as many small rural communities were left in the dark by private electric companies a century ago, many smaller communities today are at risk of falling behind in the Information Age because large cable companies are not interested in serving them, the American Public Power Association (APPA) told the Federal Communications Commission on Aug. 29. "Faced with such a situation, communities should be able to opt for 'self-help' to construct their own community networks or to partner with private providers" to provide broadband to their residents and businesses, APPA said.

APPA filed the comments in response to a public notice issued by the FCC in late July calling for comment on petitions filed by two public power utilities. The petitions were filed July 24 by the Electric Power Board (EPB) of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the City of Wilson, North Carolina, both of which own and operate their own broadband services. The two cities said restrictions imposed by state law seek to "thwart or unreasonably delay broadband investment and competition." The petitions call for the FCC to use its authority under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to pre-empt the state restrictions. (See Public Power Daily, July 25.)

The FCC is now reviewing those petitions and is seeking public comment on whether it has authority to pre-empt state laws under Section 706. The commission will accept reply comments until Sept. 29.

APPA has encouraged its member utilities that provide broadband services — or that are interested in doing so — to file comments. (See Public Power Daily, Aug. 4.)

"Given the critical and growing importance of high-speed broadband capabilities for nearly every facet of our society, and the daunting challenge of building such networks throughout the country, the question should not be whether communities should be allowed to build broadband networks, but instead, how can America afford to not let them have this choice," APPA concluded in its comments to the commission.

The Electric Power Board of Chattanooga offers ultra-high-speed Internet access, video programming, and voice services over a fiber-optic network that allows it to deliver these services to the 170,000 residential and commercial customers in its 600-square-mile electric service area, the EPB said in its petition to the FCC. However, the city is "surrounded by a digital desert in which businesses and residents are unable to access broadband Internet service or must make do with very limited speeds," the municipal utility told the commission. By filing its petition with the FCC, the utility seeks the opportunity to respond to requests for advanced telecommunication services that it receives regularly from citizens and businesses outside its electric service territory.

The city of Wilson provides electric service in six counties in Eastern North Carolina, and in one of them — Wilson County — also offers gigabit Internet access, cable television and other services over a fiber-optic communications network that is the first of its kind in North Carolina, the municipal utility told the FCC in its petition. The city said it has received numerous requests for these services from residents, government agencies, businesses, and other organizations in the other five counties, and wants to expand its broadband capabilities into neighboring communities, but Section 160A-340 of North Carolina law prohibits it from doing so.

As APPA Director of Government Relations and Counsel Desmarie Waterhouse wrote in a July 14 blog post on the association's website, more than 20 states have laws on their books that either prohibit municipalities from providing broadband service, or limit their efforts.

"As access to broadband services continues to become more and more vital to our day-to-day lives, we hope to see policies that limit barriers to entry — particularly for municipalities that are trying to provide an essential service to their citizens," Waterhouse wrote in the blog post. "The American Public Power Association will continue to urge Congress to protect the ability of public power utilities to provide these critical services to their communities." —JEANNINE ANDERSON

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The Electric Reliability Council of Texas expects to have sufficient electricity available to meet peak demand this fall and winter.

ERCOT on Sept. 2 issued its final seasonal assessment of resource adequacy for the fall and a preliminary outlook for the winter.

"We are going into fall with about 2,100 MW of new generation resources in the system that we didn’t have this time last year, and we expect that there will be sufficient generation available to serve a range of possible scenarios," said Ken McIntyre, vice president of grid planning and operations for ERCOT, in a press release.

ERCOT noted that its fall assessment is based on a weather forecast that is consistent with average weather patterns. Planning scenarios include combinations of extremely high demand and forced outages at power plants. ERCOT has an anticipated peak demand of about 48,700 MW this fall, but nearly 75,500 MW of generation is available overall.

The grid operator noted that generation providers typically schedule maintenance outages during fall and spring to prepare for more extreme weather — and the corresponding higher demand for power — that occurs during winter and summer. According to ERCOT, it is typical for more than 9,000 MW to be offline for maintenance during fall, and unplanned power plant outages could range from the typical 3,400 MW to nearly 7,000 MW.
 
Taking these factors into account, ERCOT expects reserves to range from about 2,600 MW, if peak demand is significantly higher than expected, to more than 14,000 MW.

Meanwhile, ERCOT’s preliminary winter seasonal assessment of resource adequacy predicts sufficient generation, except potentially under the most severe demand and outage scenarios.
 
ERCOT said that at 57,256 MW, peak demand in winter 2014 neared the winter record of 57,265 MW set in February 2011, and peak demand due to cold weather in early March was about 11,500 MW higher than the previous March record set in 2002.

The final winter seasonal assessment of resource adequacy, which is currently scheduled for release Oct. 31, will reflect a more near-term weather forecast and any necessary updates associated with the factors identified in the preliminary report, ERCOT noted.—PAUL CIAMPOLI

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APPA is offering the following three webinars next week, each taking place from 2 to 3:30 p.m., Eastern time:

Line Extension Policies: Contributions in Aid of Construction: Sept. 9

Using Advanced AMI Technology to Move from AMR to AMI: Sept. 10

Rural Broadband Funding Opportunity for Public Power Utilities: Sept. 11

The "Line Extension Policies" webinar, on Sept. 9, is the sixth in a series of seven webinars designed to educate public power professionals involved in accounting and financial planning about timely issues while earning continuing professional education (CPE) credits. The speaker, Mark Beauchamp, president of Utility Financial Solutions, will cover the following topics: alternative line extension methodologies; maximum contribution a utility should incur for a new service; risks of extending service to different types of customers; how line extensions for subdivisions and developers differ from extensions to a residential home; determining the value a customer will provide the utility; and how an upgrade of service can be considered under line extension contributions. The final webinar in this series will cover performing a utility financial check-up.

The "Using Advanced AMI Technology to Move from AMR to AMI" webinar (held in conjunction with Hometown Connections), on Sept. 10, will be led by Pat Corrigan, vice president of public utilities, for Elster Solutions, LLC; Srinivasa Venigalla, electric systems director for the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority in Arizona; and Charlie Wright, electric meter administrator with the Orlando Utilities Commission in Florida. The speakers will review a number of capital-friendly ways to get started with AMI, focusing on options for public power utilities with large AMR deployments seeking to migrate over time to a full, uncompromised AMI system.

The "Rural Broadband Funding Opportunity for Public Power Utilities" webinar, on Sept. 11, will provide APPA members with guidance on how to apply for funding under the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect America Fund, including: what features to stress in their proposals in order to score well under the commission’s selection criteria; what obligations winning bidders will have to meet over the next few years; and potential partnering opportunities for public power utilities. This webinar will be led by Jim Baller, president, and Sean Stokes, principal, of the Baller Herbst Law Group in Washington, D.C.

Each webinar is worth 0.2 continuing education units, 1.5 professional development hours and 1.5 continuing professional education credits. For more information and to register, visit www.APPAAcademy.org under Webinar Series or contact Meghan Riley at MRiley@PublicPower.org or 202/467-2919. —HEIDI LAMBERT

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EVENTS CALENDAR


Webinar – Line Extension Policies: Contributions in Aid of Construction
September 9

Webinar – Using Advanced AMI Technology to Move from AMR to AMI
September 10

Webinar – Rural Broadband Funding Opportunity for Public Power Utilities
September 11

Business and Financial Conference
Portland, Oregon
September 14-17

Webinar – Smart Grids Enable Smart Cities: Insights into the Benefits New Technologies Offer Public Power Communities
September 23

NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Version 5 Compliance Program Development Workshop
Scottsdale, Arizona
September 29-30

Fall Education Institute
Scottsdale, Arizona
September 29-October 3

Webinar – Achieving Excellence in Public Power Governance
September 30

Public Power Leadership Workshop
Scottsdale, Arizona
October 1-3


Webinar – Performing a Utility Financial Check-Up
October 16

Legal Seminar
San Antonio, Texas
October 19-22

DEED webinar – Measuring Energy Savings Using Non-Intrusive Devices Inside Residential Customer Homes
October 23

Customer Connections Conference
Jacksonville, Florida
October 26-29

Grid Security Summit
Arlington, Virginia
November 12-13

Webinar – It's a Wrap: A Look Back at Legislative, Regulatory, and Political Developments in 2014
December 9

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


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CLASSIFIEDS
Systems operations and generation supervisor— The city of Manassas, Virginia, is seeking a systems operations and generation supervisor to oversee a variety of semi-skilled functions related to monitoring and controlling the city’s SCADA system for the electric and water utilities, while supervising its operation and ensuring the safety of the city’s generation sites and generation facilities. The successful candidate further directs the execution of all planned and emergency switching orders, and coordinates distribution non-reclosing activities; ensures completion of regular updates to electric system maps, diagrams, and system board to the existing system; and maintains all generation data for annual reports required by the Department of Environmental Quality. Qualifications: The candidate must be willing to work outside of normal hours to assist in electrical restoration, emergencies, and maintain communications at all times with operations. This position requires an associate’s degree and completion of level I and level II of the City of Manassas System Operator certification program; supplemented by five years of experience as a Senior Utility Systems Operator; or an equivalent combination of education, training, and experience that provides the required knowledge, skills, and abilities. The successful candidate must have a valid state driver’s license and must obtain NERC certification within 24 months of employment. Apply: To apply, complete the city application online.

Deputy director of public works and electric— The city of Manassas, Virginia, is seeking a deputy director of public works and electric that can apply engineering principles and utility practices to develope designs and operational procedures with an emphasis on employee and public safety, and environmental compliance. The position ensures staff compliance with OSHA, NESC, and NERC regulations. Qualifications: The successful candidate must be innovative and have strong leadership, communication, and organizational skills, and demonstrate success in managing people in a team environment. Experience with operation and system integration of distributed electric generation facilities and SCADA systems is preferred. A bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or a related field, supplemented by five years of experience, is required in order for the successful candidate to direct and manage the Electric Engineering, Electric Operations, Electric Construction, Electric Substation, Communications and Control, and Generation divisions of the Electric Utility Division, ensuring compliance with applicable policies, procedures, and laws. The successful candidate must possess and maintain a valid Virginia driver’s license. A professional engineering license is preferred. Apply: To apply, complete the city application online.

Manager of electric operations— The City of Geneva Public Works Department in Illinois is accepting applications for a full-time manager of electric operations. The position manages the operation and maintenance of the utility's generation, substations, SCADA, metering, fiber, outages, and related customer complaints in order to provide safe, reliable, and efficient electric and data service to the customers of the city of Geneva. This position reports to the superintendent of Electric Services, and is responsible for crew management, capacity and reliability planning, project management, and other duties as assigned. Qualifications: Minimum qualifications for the position include a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with a minimum of five years related experience, including management and direct supervision of non-exempt employees. A candidate with power generation experience or any combination of education, training, and experience which provides the required knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the essential functions of the position is desirable. The successful applicant must reside within a 12-mile radius of the city of Geneva within one year of employment, and possess an Illinois driver’s license. Compensation: The city of Geneva offers an excellent fringe benefit package and starting annual hiring range of $78,283 to $94,872. Apply: Please send a completed job application to Lisa Jepson by mail: Human Resources Office, City of Geneva, 22 S. First St., Geneva, Illinois 60134; or by email: ljepson@geneva.il.us; by 5 p.m. on Sept. 24. Resumes will not be accepted without a completed job application. For more information, please visit our website. The city of Geneva is an equal opportunity employer.

Engineering and electric operations manager—Lebanon Utilities in Indiana currently has a job opening for an engineering and electric operations manager. The position, under the direction of the general manager, is responsible for the planning, engineering, designing, and managing of projects for electric transmission, distribution, and substation facilities in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. Qualifications: A bachelor's degree in electrical engineering is preferred; civil engineering considered. Strong written and verbal communication skills are also necessary in order to deal with a wide range of personalities, both inside and outside of the organization. Apply: If interested, please call 765/482-8395 for a complete job description.


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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