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While enforcement staff at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Oct. 16 said that they found no evidence of widespread or sustained market manipulation during severe cold weather events in the winter of 2013-2014, enforcement staff disclosed that they have opened three informal, non-public investigations into discrete market participant actions.

At FERC’s regular monthly open meeting, staff from FERC’s Office of Enforcement, Office of Energy Policy Innovation and Office of Electric Reliability provided an update on commission and industry actions and continuing initiatives responding to the severe cold weather events experienced last winter.

Staff noted that FERC continues to address winter operational needs and longer term solutions through its orders. For example, the commission recently issued an order approving ISO New England’s 2014-2015 winter reliability program.

Commission staff noted in the presentation that FERC’s Office of Enforcement regularly conducts surveillance of the natural gas and electric markets to detect market manipulation and other improper conduct.
 
Due to the extreme price spikes during the "polar vortex" events last winter, the Office of Enforcement conducted an extensive review in addition to its regular surveillance efforts. The objective of the review was to determine if market manipulation was a cause of historically high natural gas and electric prices.
 
Staff also looked into whether market participants’ offer behavior took advantage of constrained conditions such as behavior meant to increase the level of uplift payments. Such behavior may constitute market manipulation even if the behavior caused high out-of-market payments rather than high clearing prices, FERC staff noted in the presentation. The review team included participants from FERC's Division of Energy Market Oversight, the Division of Investigations, and the Division of Analytics and Surveillance.

According to the staff presentation, the initial focus was on understanding the market fundamentals and price anomalies, including both high prices and unusual basis relationships at trading hubs. By way of example, staff in the presentation said that there was significant attention given to the price spikes at the Transco New York trading hub, where prices rose to $120/MMBtu on January 22. But FERC staff said in the presentation that it was also concerned that prices rose to $40 at the Chicago trading hub in late January, since, it said, that was an unusually high price for such a well-supplied region.

FERC staff utilized an interview process to better understand the cold weather events. Due to the high volatility in the market, and in some cases reduced trading volumes on certain days, staff saw a number of surveillance screens trip, particularly for natural gas price movements in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and MidCon regions, which prompted staff to interview market participants whose trading behavior tripped the screens. FERC staff also interviewed participants that were actively trading during the price spike days, as well as generators, particularly those that were given requests to operate by the PJM Interconnection under its conservative operations protocols. Staff also interviewed gas local distribution companies and pipelines.

FERC staff found there was a general consensus in the industry regarding the reasons for high natural gas prices. One reason was the extreme and universal nature of the cold weather, which extended into the Southeast region, according to the staff presentation. In addition, market participants reported that less hedging of natural gas at the first of month price had occurred in light of certain additions of new delivery capacity into the New York area and forecasts of warmer weather than actually occurred. The reduced hedges left many entities exposed to very volatile daily prices that occurred during January and February and may have increased price volatility as entities covered short positions, FERC staff noted in the presentation.

FERC enforcement staff said at the FERC meeting that they found no evidence of widespread or sustained market manipulation.

At the same time, the review by enforcement staff did result in the opening of three informal, non-public investigations into discrete market participant actions.

Specifically, the Office of Enforcement has opened an investigation related to the formation of a single monthly natural gas index. This investigation alleges downward price manipulation in order to benefit short financial derivative positions.

The Office of Enforcement has opened two additional investigations to determine whether certain generators may have improperly benefited from the constrained conditions in the electric markets through offer behavior that resulted in increased uplift payments.

The Office of Enforcement’s investigation into the three open matters is at an early stage.—PAUL CIAMPOLI

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Staff at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Oct. 16 said that conditions heading into this winter are mixed for natural gas and electricity markets. While steps have been taken to boost reliability and natural gas production continues to break records, FERC staff also outlined a number of challenges heading into the winter including lower coal stockpiles and an increased reliance on natural gas for electricity.

FERC Office of Enforcement staff provided commissioners with a presentation on the office’s winter 2014-2015 energy market assessment.
 
Staff in the presentation said that the U.S. natural gas market is amply supplied, with production continuing to break records. They also noted that following last winter’s polar vortex, natural gas pipelines, electric utilities, regional transmission organizations and independent system operators, as well as FERC, have taken a number of steps to improve system reliability.

But challenges remain. While current spot market natural gas prices are in the $4.00/MMBtu range over most of the country, winter futures are significantly higher, staff noted in the presentation.  Also, natural gas storage is below average and coal stockpiles are lower than usual.
 
Although new pipeline capacity has been added since last winter, there are still restrictions in New England, FERC staff said. In some regions, there is an increased reliance on natural gas for electricity generation.

According to the presentation, gas-fired generation in New England has grown from approximately 44% of capacity in 2013 to 47% in 2014 as two large non-natural gas plants that supplied the region last year retire. The FERC staff presentation said that the increased dependence on natural gas in New England should tend to increase the volatility and overall price of power in the region.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the assessment found that California may face supply and market issues as it relies more on natural gas-fired generation this winter and faces increased evening ramps.  Gas-fired generation will replace hydro generation lost because of a drought and import declines of 1,000 to 3,100 MW because of maintenance occurring on the Pacific DC Intertie transmission line. Higher solar generation will increase the evening ramp required of natural gas generation and fast-start units will increase the rate of draw from gas pipelines, FERC staff noted in the presentation.

Southern California enters the winter with gas storage levels 15% below last year and generators continue to face the risk of gas supply disruptions, the assessment found.

Meanwhile, power plant coal stockpiles stood at 132.9 million tons at the end of June, which is 16% below the 10-year average and 22% below last year. This represents approximately 56 days of coal consumption. Industry estimates put the supply at the end of September at approximately 111 million tons, or 47 days, according to the presentation.

Through industry outreach, FERC staff has learned that certain coal-fired generators have experienced reduced coal deliveries due to smaller train unit sizes and increased times between shipments. To mitigate these issues, some generators have begun implementing coal conservation measures and have considered changing their offer parameters.

With deliverability issues expected to continue into 2015, FERC staff will monitor coal stockpiles at affected plants, especially with regard to any potential effects next summer, the presentation noted.

Finally, FERC staff said that weather remains the key wildcard going into the winter and is the main driver of natural gas demand and prices. While most forecasters give a low probability of a repeat of the cold winter of 2013-14, they believe that a colder than normal winter is a risk, particularly as a weak El Nino develops, FERC staff said in the presentation.—PAUL CIAMPOLI

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Oct. 16 accepted, subject to certain conditions, a proposal put forth by the California Independent System Operator to establish flexible resource adequacy capacity requirements. The ISO says it needs the requirements in order to integrate larger amounts of renewable energy into the regional grid.

As a result of the order, the proposed tariff revisions, filed with FERC on Aug. 1, will become effective on Nov. 1, 2014, as requested by the ISO.

"The flexible resource adequacy capacity requirement is an interim, but critical, measure to ensure the availability of the flexible capacity required to integrate renewable resources in the CAISO's balancing authority area," the ISO told FERC in August.

The CAISO grid "is undergoing significant transformation," the ISO told FERC in its filing. The state has adopted renewable portfolio standards for electric utilities requiring that 33 percent of retail electric sales be met by renewable sources by the year 2020. This represents about 20,000 megawatts of capacity from new variable resources, the ISO said, noting that the 33 percent level is a floor, not a ceiling. California also is examining policies to achieve 12,000 MW of distributed generation, at a time when more than 12,000 MW of coastal generation resources are likely to retire over the next eight years, the ISO noted.

"Managing a greener grid, with an increased penetration of variable energy resources and distributed generation presents significant operational challenges to grid reliability in the future," the ISO said. The influx of large quantities of these resources will increase supply and load variability and unpredictability, it said.
The CAISO "is already beginning to experience the effects of the new variable energy resources coming on line. For example, on 22 days in March 2014, the CAISO system experienced two significant daily net load ramps. This demonstrates a current need to have resources available that are capable of responding to multiple dispatches in a single day," the grid operator added.

The ISO said it designed its proposed flexible capacity framework to work in conjunction with the resource adequacy programs of the California Public Utilities Commission and other local regulatory authorities "to ensure the successful integration of renewable resources and the availability of resources necessary to address the related operational challenges."

FERC said its Oct. 16 order "conditionally accepts CAISO's proposed flexible resource adequacy capacity requirements as a just and reasonable set of measures that will ensure CAISO has access to the flexible capacity it needs to reliably operate the grid."

"We conditionally accept CAISO’s proposal to allocate flexible capacity obligations among local regulatory authorities based on the contributions of their respective jurisdictional load serving entities to the system flexible capacity need, subject to CAISO’s submission of an informational report," FERC said in the order. "We find that CAISO’s proposed methodology effectively captures differences among load serving entities’ loads and resource portfolios and reflects their contributions to CAISO’s flexible capacity needs. Further, CAISO’s proposed allocation methodology preserves local regulatory authorities’ primary role in establishing procurement obligations for their jurisdictional load serving entities, while also ensuring that CAISO will meet its total flexible capacity need. "

FERC conditionally accepted CAISO’s proposed tariff revisions related to effective flexible capacity values, subject to further compliance to remove a prior-bid requirement. "CAISO has not adequately explained how a resource’s prior-bid history impacts the effective flexible capacity that the resource can provide in the future," FERC said.

FERC noted that the California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA), Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) and Silicon Valley Power (SVP) argued that CAISO’s proposal to calculate an effective flexible capacity value only for those resources that submitted an economic bid for energy in the prior year forecloses the opportunity for resources that have traditionally self-scheduled to be eligible to provide flexible resource adequacy capacity.

They also said, among other things, that the proposed prior-economic bid requirement would artificially shrink the supply of flexible capacity and unnecessarily limit the amount of flexible capacity that is available to CAISO.

In the order, FERC said it agreed with CMUA, NCPA, and SVP that the operational characteristics of a resource, and not the prior-bid history, should be the relevant factors for determining if a resource can provide flexible resource adequacy capacity.
 
FERC directed CAISO to submit a compliance filing, within 30 days of the date of the order, to remove the prior-bid requirement from a section of its tariff. In addition, Thursday's order directs the ISO to make other clarifying revisions to the tariff language. —JEANNINE ANDERSON

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APPA will offer a special workshop this fall, the Grid Security Summit, for public power cyber and physical professionals. The summit will be held Nov. 12-13, 2014 in Arlington, Virginia (just outside Washington, D.C.).

The summit is designed to educate decision makers and utility leaders on important policy, legal, and economic issues surrounding the cyber and physical security of the electric grid. The program will discuss how electric utilities can comply with cybersecurity and reliability standards; continuously upgrade security measures to protect the grid against evolving threats; and help the grid recover quickly, should an attack occur.

Topics will include:
•    Emerging Threats and Vulnerabilities for the Electricity Sector
•    Framework and Tools to Help You Succeed in Cyber Preparedness
•    Developing a Cyber Awareness Program that Empowers Employees
•    Protective Measures for Physical Security
•    Organizational Management: Don’t Get Caught in the IT vs. OT Debate
•    FEMA: The Importance of Local, State and Federal Partnerships
•    Ensuring that You Receive FEMA Funding
•    Electric Utility Industry Outlook
•    Your Utility’s Public Relations Posture
•    Industry/Government Coordination on Cybersecurity and Physical Preparedness

The cost to participate is $445 for APPA members who register before Oct. 20. For non-members, the fee is $890. After Oct. 20, the registration fees will go up by $50.

Attendees can earn continuing education units (CEUs) and professional development hours (PDHs).

Visit the APPA website for complete program and registration information.

    
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EVENTS CALENDAR


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 – eReliability Tracker: User Training and Tips
November 19

DEED webinar – Public Power Experiences from the U.S. DOE's Smart Grid Investment Grants
November 20

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.

Field service superintendent— The city of Hamilton, Ohio, is recruiting for a field service superintendent. The position entails difficult technical and responsible administrative work, servicing the city’s commercial, industrial and residential customers. Supervision is exercised over supervisory, technical, clerical, and skilled personnel. Qualifications: Possession of an associate degree from a college of recognized standing in electrical engineering or a closely related area is preferred, coupled with extensive experience in electric systems and standards, electrical inspections, energy efficiency and energy conservation programs and principles, or thorough understanding of utility rates and cost of service studies. Apply: Visit our website employment quick link at www.hamilton-city.org for more details about this job posting. Current detailed resumes must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16, in person: Civil Service Department, Hamilton Municipal Building, 345 High St., First Floor, Hamilton, OH 45011; by fax: 513/785-7037; or by email: cspersonnel@ci.hamilton.oh.us. Submit resumes in Microsoft Word document or PDF file formats only. Specify interest in "FIELD SVC SUPT." The City of Hamilton is an EEO and AAE. Minorities and women are encouraged to apply.

Financial and rates analyst— Join the Finance and Accounting team at NMPP Energy, a joint action agency located in Lincoln, Nebraska, to prepare annual budgets and projected results for our wholesale power supply agency, the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN). Responsibilities also include analyzing monthly variances from budget, compiling and monitoring financial ratios and metrics, and developing MEAN’s annual and projected rate structure. Apply: For complete details and to apply, visit www.nmppenergy.org/careers/nmpp_energy. EOE.

Manager of financial accounting— Lincoln Electric System (LES), in Nebraska, is hiring a manager of financial accounting. The positions is responsible for financial accounting, reporting, communicating, and analysis for LES, District Energy Corporation (DEC) and Nebraska Utility Corporation (NUCorp) in accordance with GASB and FERC guidelines. Specific responsibilities also include annual financial report development, external audit support and coordination, asset management, Southwest Power Pool support, managing and mentoring staff, strategic planning, and assisting with overall policy and procedure development. Qualifications: Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree and seven years of progressively responsible utilities experience in area of assignment, including some supervisory experience. A Master of Business Administration degree and professional certification, such as CPM, CPA, or CMA, is preferred. LES is a municipally owned electric utility providing service to approximately 130,000 customers in Lincoln. LES employs a staff of approximately 476 non-union and union personnel. LES is governed by a nine-member administrative board. To apply, go to www.les.com/careers. EEO: Minorities/Women/Disabled/Veterans.

Director of agency and government relations— The Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA), headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota, is recruiting for a director of agency and government relations. SMMPA is a joint action agency that provides wholesale electric energy to 18 member municipal utilities, serving more than 111,000 retail customers. The position directs and manages SMMPA’s efforts to build and enhance agency relationships with member utilities and external entities. The director assists the executive director and CEO in the development and implementation of policies, procedures, products, and strategic initiatives to fulfill the agency’s goals and objectives. In addition to developing and managing relationships with members, legislators, legislative leadership, regulators, and governmental agency staff, he or she also oversees communications, human resource functions, demand side management initiatives, and non-operations center computer systems. Qualifications: Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field or the equivalent combination of education and experience. An advanced degree in a related field is preferred. The successful candidate must possess 10 or more years of utility experience with a comprehension of the "big picture" of public utility operations. The selected individual will also offer measurable accomplishments in public, legislative, and regulatory relations arenas. He or she will be expected to become the "face" of SMMPA and a trusted advisor in a variety of political, regulatory, and industry forums (i.e., Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Minnesota Division of Energy Resources, American Public Power Association, peer utilities, member utilities, city government, and other industry associations). In addition, candidates must be able to present to and educate the board and members on legislative and regulatory activities. Compensation: SMMPA provides a competitive base salary and a full complement of fringe benefits, including reasonable, customary costs associated with relocation. Apply: Please email resumes by Nov. 3 to Kip Moore at Mycoff, Fry & Prouse: kmoore@mfpllc.us. For questions, call 800/525-9082.

Electrical engineer— The Electrical District No. Two in Casa Grande, Arizona, has an immediate opening for a senior-level electrical engineer. Electrical District No. Two is a growing electric system, serving 6,500 customers in central Arizona, close to the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas. The position responsibilities include: design of the overhead and underground distribution system, load current and voltage calculations, system planning, metering, overhead and underground construction standards, transmission and substation maintenance, system protection studies, SCADA, distribution automation, AMR, AutoCAD, and ESRI GIS. The position reports to the general manager. Qualifications: A Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering with an emphasis in power systems is preferred. Excellent computer and communication skills, and at least five years’ experience in electric system design and operation is required. The ideal candidate must have a high level of initiative and excellent oral and written communications skills. Compensation: The starting salary will be dependent upon experience and education. Compensation includes excellent benefits: NRECA pension, 401(k), and medical, dental, vision, and life insurance. Apply: For a detailed position profile, please contact Fran Seitz by email: fran@hireseitz.com; or phone: 303/730-1424. You can also contact Steve Dowdy by email: sdowdy@dowdyrecuriting.com; or phone: 303/816-0047.

General manager— The board of directors of Richmond Power and Light (RP&L) is seeking qualified candidates for the position of general manager. RP&L is a municipally owned electric utility serving approximately 21,000 customers, and has annual revenues of $80 million. RP&L, a total requirements member of the Indiana Municipal Power Agency, has a rich 100-year tradition of serving its customers with low electric rates and high reliability. The general manager will report to the nine-member board of directors, who are also members of the Richmond City Council. Qualifications: Candidates must have a minimum of 10 years electric utility experience, preferably within public power, and at least five years of management experience. Graduation from an accredited four-year college or university with a degree in business administration or engineering is also required. A masters of business or engineering is a plus. The board will consider candidates with broad electric utility management experience, including such areas as electric distribution, finance, operations, planning, member communications, and board relations. The successful candidate will have excellent people and communications skills, proven leadership ability, and a strong commitment to public power principles. Compensation: RP&L offers excellent benefits and a very competitive salary. Apply: The job description is posted on our company website at www.rp-l.com. Applications will be accepted until Oct. 15. Please send a résumé, cover letter, salary history, and a minimum of three references by email to: GMSEARCH@RP-L.COM. RP&L is committed to equal employment opportunity, and employs all qualified persons without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, handicap, veteran status, or any other classification protected by the federal, state, or local laws.

High voltage lineworkers— The city of Redding, California, is establishing an eligibility list to fill current and future vacancies for high voltage lineworkers. High voltage lineworkers perform all classes of electrical power transmission and distribution system construction, maintenance, and operation work. Apply: Interested individuals must submit a city of Redding online employment application at www.ci.redding.ca.us in order to be considered. This recruitment may close at any time with minimal or no notice, therefore, prompt application is encouraged. The positions are open until filled. EOE/FAAE.


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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Naylor, LLC

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