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Electric reliability will be a top priority for Colette Honorable should she be confirmed as a commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, she said at a Dec. 4 hearing held by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

"The greatest challenge that I perceive from my experience as an economic regulator and also interacting with the FERC commissioners is reliability," Honorable said in response to a question from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., at the hearing on her nomination to be a FERC commissioner.

"In many ways, we need to think about not only reliability but resilience efforts," she said. There are "so many potential interferences with the ability to provide reliable and resilient services" to a variety of power customers.

"Reliability is certainly a top priority for me in my daily work and if confirmed it would continue to be," Honorable went on to say.

Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., used the hearing to voice concerns about coal stockpiles and railroad delivery issues.

Franken said that in Minnesota over the past year, "We’ve seen them [coal stockpiles] repeatedly drop to dangerously low levels due to the inadequate rail delivery of coal. At least four coal power plants in Minnesota were shut down so that their stockpiles could be built back up before the cold winter months."

For her part, Baldwin said that "We are hearing alarming reports that there are low stocks as we face the onset of winter," as well as reports of unreliable and unpredictable rail service, "and obviously this has an impact on reliability."

Baldwin emphasized "the importance of interagency dialogue," adding that she would like a commitment that FERC "will engage with the Surface Transportation Board to ensure that these reliability issues are addressed."

The American Public Power Association and several other associations in late October urged FERC to hold a public workshop that would focus on railroad coal delivery challenges.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to curb emissions from existing power plants was also discussed at the hearing.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, noted at the hearing that she and two members of the House of Representatives recently sent a letter to FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur in which they asked that FERC convene a technical conference and invite the Department of Energy, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, "affected asset owners and other relevant stakeholders to go on the record with respect to the reliability challenges posed" to the bulk power system "by this proposal and other pending and forthcoming major federal environmental regulations"  (see Public Power Daily, Nov. 26, 2014).

Murkowski asked Honorable if she would support having FERC convene such a technical conference. Honorable said that she would "certainly support any effort to get the stakeholders together."

Honorable currently serves as chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission and until very recently was president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Honorable’s one-year term as president of NARUC expired on Nov. 20. President Obama in August announced his intention to nominate Honorable to be a commissioner at FERC.—PAUL CIAMPOLI

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National Information Solutions Cooperative


Four members of the U.S. House of Representatives have asked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to investigate whether consumers might be harmed by misleading sales practices from solar leasing companies as the market for rooftop solar power expands. The four members of Congress, all Democrats from Arizona, said they support the expansion of rooftop solar, but are worried that companies leasing the systems may be using unfair or misleading business practices. 

While the cost of rooftop solar systems dropped by between 12 percent and 15 percent last year, the up-front cost of rooftop solar panels "is beyond the financial means of most U.S. households," said the four House members in a Nov. 19 letter to CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "As a result, many Americans are drawn into the solar market by the promise of a zero-money-down solar lease."

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated in its Annual Energy Outlook 2014 that hundreds of thousands of Americans will install rooftop solar panels on their homes over the next two years, they said. "We are supportive of this trend because solar is a key component of America’s energy future," they continued. "However, as the industry rapidly expands, we must be vigilant in protecting consumers from any misleading sales practices."

Signing the letter were Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, Ron Barber, Kyrsten Sinema, and Gene Green.

A customer who signs a solar lease does not own the panels, but rather contracts for the electricity produced by the system for 20 or more years, said the four members of Congress. "The initial attractiveness of a ‘no money down’ long-term lease may incentivize the installation of rooftop solar. However, as was the case with the subprime mortgage crisis – easy initial financial terms, increased demand and a rapidly expanding industry can be high risk and ultimately harmful to consumers and the industry."

Industry analysts predict that 68 percent of rooftop solar installations will be financed through third-party leases in 2014, they noted.

They asked Cordray what steps the CFPB has taken to investigate the possibility that misleading sales techniques are being used in the rooftop solar industry. They also asked him what protections are in place to make sure that consumers who are considering long-term solar leasing arrangements "are made fully aware of the long-term implications of these transactions." —JEANNINE ANDERSON

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SEDC, Inc.

Publicly owned electric utilities continue to explore new ways to improve services to their key accounts, APPA’s 2014 Key Accounts Survey indicates. The Key Accounts Survey is conducted periodically to help understand key account policies and practices among public power utilities.

Of the responding utilities, 73% have a formal key accounts program, and 66% make contact with them on a regular basis. Most utilities define their key accounts as their largest customers based on revenue and/or load. Sixty-three percent of utilities’ key accounts programs have specific goals such as energy efficiency metrics, economic development, improving customer service and reliability, and retaining key accounts.

The preferred method of interaction with key accounts or large customers is on-site meetings, phone and email; while 7% use direct mail, social media or texting as their primary method of interaction. Ninety-three percent of responding utilities have a designated key accounts representative; however, 86% of key accounts representatives have other responsibilities such as billing, credit, economic development, marketing, energy efficiency, conservation, etc.

The survey indicates that the following utility issues are currently most important to their key accounts (in order of importance):
1.  Reliability
2.  Price stability
3.  Reduced costs
4.  Power quality
5.  Customer service

For more information on the report, contact Meghan Riley at 202/467-2919 or mriley@publicpower.org. —MEGHAN RILEY

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Pennwell Corporation - POWER-GEN International



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


Joint Action Workshop

Key West, Florida
January 11-13

Webinar – Energy Efficiency: Measurement and Evaluation of Program Effectiveness
January 13

Winter Education Institute
Anaheim, California
February 2-6

Webinar – Energy Efficiency: Implementing an Energy Efficiency Portfolio
February 10

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

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Utilismart Corporation

Chief executive officer— Baldwin EMC is recruiting for a chief executive officer to report to a seven-member board of trustees. The position is responsible for managing Baldwin EMC, including its nearly 200 employees. In addition to the responsibilities of leading Baldwin EMC, the CEO serves on the PowerSouth Board of Directors and the Alabama Rural Electric Association Board of Directors (statewide organization). Qualifications: The ideal candidate will have expertise as a chief executive or possibly senior level officer of a larger, successful electric distribution utility. Additional experience serving on a governing board of a wholesale electric provider is highly desirable. Organized in 1937, Baldwin EMC is now the largest electric cooperative in Alabama, and one of the fastest growing in the United States. It provides electric service to nearly 70,000 meters between Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, and is the sole electric provider of the coastal area of Baldwin County, including the communities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Baldwin EMC enjoys high satisfaction among its members due to its admirable reliability and being lowest-cost provider in the region. Meter density is an enviable 15 per mile. Baldwin EMC is governed by a self-regulating board of trustees, consisting of seven members who are elected by the district to three-year terms. It has approximately 45 years remaining on its all requirements power contract with PowerSouth. Baldwin EMC owns and operates approximately 3,500 miles of overhead and 930 miles of underground distribution. Baldwin EMC generates approximately $150 million in annual revenue. Its 2013 total utility plant revenue was nearly $251 million, and its long-term debt totaled approximately $131 million. The majority of the long-term debt is financed through RUS. CFC and CoBank carry less than $4 million of that total. The cooperative paid $2.2 million in capital credits last year. Apply: Please submit credentials by Dec. 12 to Pat Prouse of MyCoff, Fry and Prouse, LLC, via email to: pprouse@mfpllc.us. For questions, call 800/525-9082 or 303/607-5372.

Auditor III— Santee Cooper in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, is recruiting for an auditor III. The successful candidate will be responsible for planning and performing financial, operational, and compliance audits across multiple disciplines and in accordance with the Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing. The individual provides an independent control and appraisal function to examine and evaluate the adequacy and effectiveness of internal controls. The individual will also provide analysis, appraisals, recommendations, professional counsel, and other pertinent information to assist management in the discharge of their duties. Qualifications: A bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, business administration, or a related field and a minimum of five years of directly related experience is required. Public accounting or utility experience, a professional certification (CPA, CIA), and/or an advanced degree is preferred. The individual must be highly skilled in the use of personal computers and Microsoft Office applications. The individual must possess strong verbal and written communications skills, and the ability to communicate with all levels within the organization. Santee Cooper will consider an Auditor II position with these qualifications: a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, business administration, or a related field, and a minimum of two years of directly related experience.A CPA, CIA, or related professional certification is preferred. Apply: Visit the Santee Cooper website.

General manager— Paducah Power System (PPS), a community owned municipal electric utility in Paducah, Kentucky, is seeking qualified candidates for the position of general manager. PPS provides electric service to approximately 22,500 customers in Paducah and the surrounding area, within a service territory of approximately 47 square miles. The general manager reports to a five-member electric plant board and is responsible for planning, operations, finance, administration, and coordination of the utility. PPS's total assets are in excess of $203 million, with annual operating revenues in excess of $67 million, and a staff of 62. Paducah Power is one of two members of the Kentucky Municipal Power Agency, which owns 7.82 percent of the Prairie State Energy Campus. Paducah, Kentucky, is located in western Kentucky and is the county seat of McCracken County, at the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers. Qualifications: Minimum qualifications for this position are any combination of education and/or experience that provide the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to acceptable job performance as determined by Paducah Power System, including, but not limited to; a minimum of 15+ years professional experience in the management of a joint action agency, electric utility, or other relevant industry experience, coupled with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, finance, public administration, economics, or related field. Ideal candidates must possess exemplary interpersonal skills that include professional, charismatic, oral and written communication talent. He/she must be a consensus builder with the ability, credibility, and willingness to communicate and get involved with; the community, the Electric Plant Board, city management, customers, bonding agencies, and the public. Compensation: Paducah Power System is an equal opportunity employer and will offer competitive compensation and excellent benefits. Apply: Qualified applicants should email a resume and a letter of qualifications to David Little at dlittle@littlerecruiting.com, or call 303/410-0060. In collaboration with Dowdy Recruiting.

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.

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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