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While there has not been much action lately on legislation that would threaten tax-exempt municipal bonds, the threat to municipal bonds from tax reform continues to loom, an expert on the topic told the recent APPA Business and Financial Conference in Portland, Oregon.

"The status of tax reform in Congress is it’s really not on the front burner," said Mitch Rapaport, a partner with Nixon Peabody. "Even though tax reform right now is not a hot topic, it's not anything that’s going to happen in the short term, the problem is when one congressman comes up with an idea those ideas never seem to go away.... They don’t go away like unwanted guests."

Maintaining the current federal tax exclusion for interest paid on municipal bonds is one of APPA’s top priorities—one of five major issues that President and CEO Sue Kelly laid out during her opening address at the conference on Sept. 14. Public power relies primarily  on municipal bonds to finance infrastructure investments. A new federal tax on those bonds would increase their cost and, in turn, increase the burden on customers of financing these projects.

Municipal  bonds have funded public power projects at a rate of $12 billion annually, Kelly said. But according to Rapaport, White House economists view the bonds as inefficient financing vehicles, arguing that too much of the "subsidy" of the tax exclusion goes to high-income investors, he said. Instead, President Barack Obama has proposed to "cap" the value of the tax exemption at 28% by imposing an unprecented surtax  on municipal bonds. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp (R-MI) has proposed a similar surtax on municipal bond interest.

"The concern is probably obvious, that no matter what you call them they are effectively a tax on municipal bonds held by wealthier individuals," Rapaport said. "As both of these proposals have been structured, they would be retroactive on the [about] $3 trillion of outstanding tax-exempt bonds."

In contrast to municipal bonds, White House economists  consider Build America Bonds, or BABs,  a preferred financing vehicle, Rapaport said. BABs are taxable municipal bonds that provide an interest subsidy directly to bond issuers. A temporary BAB program created in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act  (ARRA) provided a payment to issuers equal to 35% of interest paid to bond holders. That  program expired in 2010, but set a precedent in the minds of lawmakers, Rapaport said.

"For better or for worse, those kinds of bonds have altered the playing field or the thought process because they give Congress an avenue that has now been used before that they view as more efficient, a direct payment or tax credit," he said. "From a federal economist’s perspective, they are more efficient, therefore better."

Bond issuers are leery, though. Payments to BABs issuers are being cut under federal deficit reduction requirements known as sequestration, Rapaport said. Additionally, the president proposed a new BAB called an America Fast Forward Bond which would provide  a payment to bond issuers equal to just 28% of interest paid to bond holders, compared to the 35% paid under the federal stimulus bill, ARRA. The White House estimates that a 28% payment can be provided at no net cost to the federal government and  is more comparable to the "subsidy" implicit in tax-exempt bonds. The White House has also said that these bond payments could be exempt from sequestration.

"I think this goes into the fool me once category of concern," Rapaport said. "It’s a little ironic... to create a new kind of direct-pay bond to spur investment in infrastructure while at the same time proposing a 28% cap on the tool that’s used to finance [billions of dollars] worth of infrastructure. There’s a little inconsistency and hopefully at some point the administration will get that."—LAURA D'ALESSANDRO

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SEDC, Inc.

Wired Group

A wide range of energy industry participants recently used a meeting convened by Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Philip Moeller to weigh in on a proposal that calls for the creation of a trading platform for natural gas.

The meeting, which took place on Sept. 18 at FERC headquarters in Washington, D.C., was tied to a proposal put forth by the American Forest & Paper Association earlier this year.

The American Forest & Paper Association called for the creation of an information and trading platform that would include bids and offers for the purchase and sale of commodity and capacity for receipt and delivery points across multiple pipeline systems in a defined operability region.

Bids and offers would consist of locations, amounts, times of flow, and prices for bundled or unbundled capacity and commodity. Supply offers may permit unbundling to allow optimization at seller’s choice at distinct strike prices.

Offers and bids could be standing, including price contingent, supply or demand offers and bids and consist either of quantities already nominated and flowing (but available to be diverted at a particular price) or quantities to be nominated for flow at particular times.

The aim of such a platform would be to increase visibility into, and liquidity of, gas commodity and capacity markets in real time in order to, among other things, assist electric system operators to "more efficiently and reliably identify potential constraints and preposition and dispatch generation accordingly."

The meeting covered a wide range of issues including liquidity, product offerings and price signals. On the price signal topic, some participants debated the adequacy of price signals being sent to electric generating markets. More specifically, the polar vortex events that occurred in early January were brought up by some speakers as both an instructive signal and as indicative of the need for more and better information.

Much of what was talked about at the meeting echoed issues raised in discussions about the gas-electric coordination issue – namely, that problems exist, but appear to be confined to areas that have physical limitations or market-structure limitations. 

With respect to market structure limitations, Greg Lander, president and partner at consulting firm Skipping Stone, said that the companies and regions that seemed to be avoiding problems were those that engaged in integrated resource planning. He said that when utilities join regional transmission organizations, they focus on price – for example, the capacity price, as opposed to the price of electricity for customers. These market participants need to return to a focus on the IRP process, he said.

For his part, Moeller emphasized that he only wanted to spur dialogue through the meeting and hopes that change can be brought about without FERC having to act.
 
Parties have until Oct. 1, 2014 to file comments at FERC related to the matters raised at the meeting.
PAUL CIAMPOLI

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LiveWire Compliance, LLC

Norwich Public Utilities in Norwich, Conn., and the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative (CMEEC) announced Sept. 22 that they have completed a $9 million microgrid generation project that will bring additional backup power capabilities to the Backus Hospital in Norwich and provide electricity to a number of critical facilities adjacent to the site in the event of a large-scale power outage.

The microgrid project includes four 2.5-megawatt electric generators near an employee satellite parking lot for the hospital. The generators are tied into the hospital and its campus through an interconnection with both an underground cable and hardened overhead wire to insure the reliability of the emergency backup power, said Norwich Public Utilities.

Additional critical facilities in the area — including schools, emergency shelters, fire station, a supermarket and pharmacy, public water supply, gas station, and shopping center — could also be served by the new generators in the event of a sustained power outage. These customers would be fed from the new distribution switchgear connected to the municipal utility’s existing overhead infrastructure.

"Enhancing the critical backup power capabilities of the leading hospital in the region is a smart investment for both our community and our future," said John Bilda, general manager of Norwich Public Utilities. "This project will also be an enormous asset to the critical facilities adjacent to the hospital in the event of a sustained power outage."

"The Backus Microgrid Project is the latest complement to a region-wide series of microgrids and continues to reinforce the basic mission of CMEEC and their owner-customers to maintain low cost, reliable, and environmentally responsible electric supply for customers," said CMEEC CEO Drew Rankin.

The project was funded by CMEEC and its members. Infrastructure upgrades to support the project were funded by NPU.

The four generators are equipped with the latest noise and emission control capabilities and are enclosed in steel structures that can withstand a Category 3 Hurricane, said CMEEC and NPU. Control of the microgrid capabilities will be managed in CMEEC’s Network Operation Center (NOC) and NPU’s 24/7 Control Room; each will have the ability to serve as the back-up restoration center for the other.

The Backus Health System, a Hartford HealthCare partner, includes a 213-bed hospital and a wide range of outpatient facilities throughout Eastern Connecticut, including health centers and a stand-alone-emergency department in Plainfield, Conn. Backus has the only trauma center in New London and Windham counties and is the only area hospital with LifeStar helicopter services, NPU said.

CMEEC is a public power entity that provides electric services to several municipal utilities and participating wholesale customers located in Connecticut. The municipal utilities, in turn, provide electricity to roughly 70,000 residential, commercial/industrial, and small business customers located across the state. —JEANNINE ANDERSON

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The Senate on Sept. 18 confirmed Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall by voice vote to be the deputy secretary at the Department of Energy. Dr. Sherwood-Randall, previously a top adviser on defense and nuclear proliferation issues within the White House’s National Security Council, will succeed current Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman.

On Sept. 16, the Senate voted to confirm Jeffery M. Baran and Stephen G. Burns to be members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by votes of 56-44 and 60-40, respectively. Baran’s term will last until June 2015. Burns’s term will last until June 2019.

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Public power utilities interested in earning recognition for their reliability practices have until Sept. 30 to submit their 2014 applications for the American Public Power Association's Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) program. The RP3 program recognizes utilities that demonstrate high proficiency in four critical areas—reliability, safety, work force development and system improvement.

As a reminder, please submit all RP3 applications to the association’s new mailing address:
2451 Crystal Drive, Suite 1000
Arlington, VA 22202

If you previously mailed your application, and it is returned back to you, please contact RP3 staff at rp3@publicpower.org to let us know that your application is on its way.

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EEFG - Energy Efficiency Funding Group, Inc.

EVENTS CALENDAR


Webinar – Estimating the Impacts of Premature Coal Plant Retirements on Retail Electric Rates
September 24

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

Webinar – OSHA Subpart V: Fall Protection
October 30

Webinar – OSHA Subpart V: Arc Protection and Flame-Resistant Clothing
November 10

Grid Security Summit
Arlington, Virginia
November 12-13

Webinar – Energy Efficiency: Overview of Energy Efficiency Programs
November 18

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

Webinar – Energy Efficiency: Identifying Your Utility's Energy Efficiency Goals and Developing a Portfolio Strategy
December 11

Webinar – OSHA Subpart V: Minimum Approach Distance
December 16

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


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Naylor, LLC

CLASSIFIEDS
Director of human resources and administration— The American Public Power Association seeks a director of human resources and administration to manage the development and implementation of the association’s policies and procedures that govern human resources and office administration. The director will manage the administration of employee benefit programs in conjunction with finance and legal staff members, including APPA’s defined benefit pension plan, 401(k) plan, health insurance plans, and voluntary benefit plans. The position is responsible for ensuring a positive employee-employer environment through oversight of employee recruitment, training and development, evaluation, and retention. The position also supervises support services staff and equipment (aside from I.T.), and will act as a liaison with the landlord and office service vendors and insurance brokers to ensure a quality work environment. Required education and experience:

• degree from a four-year college or university with major coursework in human resource management, business • • administration, or related field; master’s degree preferred;
• ten or more years work experience in human resources, with substantial prior experience in a management-level capacity;
• SPHR certification or demonstrated coursework toward achieving the SPHR certification preferred;
• strong interpersonal and communications skills, both oral and written;
• excellent conflict resolution and mediation skills;
• ability to work independently and exercise sound judgment;
• thorough knowledge of all aspects of HR administration;
• current knowledge of trends, practices, regulations, and developments in the HR area;
• ability to foster trust throughout the organization in the impartiality and integrity of the HR function, including the • ability to maintain the highest level of confidentiality and ensure fair treatment;
• knowledge of federal and local labor laws and their application;
• knowledge of budgeting, personnel, and administrative techniques;
• knowledge of lease administration and building services practices;
• ability to pay attention to detail and maintain accurate recordkeeping;
• history of excellent customer service delivery; and
• proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite.

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

Superintendent— The city of Croswell in Michigan is seeking applicants for the next superintendent of Croswell Light and Power. Qualifications: Qualified candidates should have management experiences. Positive attributes might include: lineman, water licenses, economic development experience, business management, utility management, community relations, GIS, and SCADA. Local government experience is a plus. Apply: The city will be accepting resumes until the position is filled. Interested candidates may contact the city administrator for more information, or visit www.cityofcroswell.com for a complete job description. Contact Sam Moore, city administrator for the city of Croswell by email at smoore@croswell-mich.com.

Manager of regulatory program— The Northern California Power Agency seeks a manager of regulatory program. The position serves as the agency’s subject matter expert related to the federal power program. The successful candidate will represent and advocate the agency’s policy positions before the Western Area Power Administration and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The successful candidate will also advise NCPA on policy issues and educate policymakers and stakeholders with regard to operation and scheduling of Central Valley Project resources, as well as various policy directives by multiple agencies —including the Department of Energy, Department of Interior, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the California Independent System Operator— that could impact the federal power program and its customers. The successful candidate also serves as NCPA lead in interactions with external interest groups and stakeholders working in the area. Qualifications: A bachelor’s degree (master’s strongly preferred) in economics, engineering, business administration, or related field, and a minimum of seven years of directly related federal agency or electric utility experience is desired. The position requires in-depth familiarity with the Central Valley Project, the federal power program, and related statutes and regulations. The successful candidate must have demonstrated strong leadership, writing, and communications skills, as well as the ability to work with limited supervision and achieve legislative and regulatory goals. Compensation: The starting salary is $115,815 to $144,768 per year, depending on experience. Employer-paid benefits include CalPERS retirement, medical, retiree medical, and more. Apply: All applicants are required to submit the agency’s online application to be considered. See www.ncpa.com to apply. Equal opportunity employer.

General manager— The Kennebunk Light and Power District in Maine is offering a unique career opportunity for a new general manager. The Kennebunk Light and Power District is an independent public municipal utility district located in Kennebunk, Maine. The district has earned a reputation among its 6,400 ratepayers and the community at large for excellent service, affordable rates, and innovation in efficiency and renewable power generation. Kennebunk (population of 11,000) is an historic New England town, known for its hardworking residents, family-friendly community, top-rated schools, and beautiful beaches in southern Maine. The district is at an historic crossroads as it determines with the local community the future of its hydro power dams, its role in local renewable power production, and the organization’s business strategy and structure. The general manager is supported, guided, and directed by a locally elected board of trustees, to whom s/he reports. The general manager oversees the staff, assets, infrastructure, and operations of the Kennebunk Light and Power District, and will help shape its vision and strategy. The general manager is the leader responsible to fulfill the mission, policies, business plan, and goals of the district. The district's mission states, "KLPD is to provide the most reliable service at the lowest possible cost, while recognizing the importance of the safety of its employees and its customers." The essential responsibilities of the general manager include:

• ensuring sound financial management of the district;
• overseeing all district operations;
• ensuring excellent customer service and public relations;
• fulfilling responsibilities to the district’s board of trustees; and
• completing other duties as required.

The successful candidate must be able to lead the district to advocate for public policy aligned with the district's mission and maintain all legal, financial, and operations records in a professional manner. The successful candidate must also ensure that the district has effective liaison with board-designated organizations. The general manager also oversees human resources management and organization structure. The successful candidate will have strong financial management abilities to oversee all district operations. Minimum qualifications: A combination of more than 15 years of professional experience and education in management, public administration, business management, and/or professional engineering is required and must include:

• ten years of progressively responsible experience in utility leadership and management (preferred);
• working knowledge of finance and management accounting;
• experience and technical knowledge in cost of electrical service, distribution, transmission, generation, new energy markets, rate-making, and electrical engineering;
• a bachelor's degree in engineering and/or business or public administration (a master's degree is preferred), or a professional engineer with experience and advanced education in business/public administration; and
• possession of a valid Maine driver’s license (Class C).

The general manager will be required to relocate, as necessary, in order to reside in the local area. Apply: Applications should be sent via email to: generalmanagersearch@klpd.org. Applications must include a cover letter and resume. Applications must be received by Oct. 3. Go to www.klpd.org for additional information and a full job description. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.

Electric utility system operator-power (real-time/day-ahead energy trader)—
The city of Redding, California, is recruiting for an electric utility system operator-power (real-time/day-ahead energy trader). The candidate will schedule real-time and day-ahead delivery of power to assure a balanced load to the resource energy portfolio; develop, implement, evaluate, economically optimize, coordinate, and arrange day-ahead and real-time power trades and schedules with other municipal utilities, marketers, and power companies; and ensure the safe, reliable, and economical operation of the Redding Electric Utility’s generation assets. Compensation: Salary is $41.71 to $50.70 per hour ($43.38 to $55.27 per hour, effective Jan. 18, 2015). Apply: To review a complete job announcement and to apply online, visit www.ci.redding.ca.us. Apply by Oct. 2. EOE/FAAE.

Senior substation design engineer— MEAG Power in Alpharetta, Georgia, is accepting applications for a senior substation design engineer. Qualifications: The position requires a bachelor’s degree in engineering, eight to 10 years related experience in the electric utility industry, and a professional engineering license (Georgia preferred), or the ability to obtain one within a year. Apply: Apply at www.meagpower.org.

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.


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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Hometown Connections International, LLC

Solar Power International 2014

Pennwell Corporation - POWER-GEN International

Naylor, LLC

Naylor, LLC

Naylor, LLC

APPA Academy


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