Eka Systems
Public Power Weekly
May 16, 2011: No. 19
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In This Issue
FERC "has taken the PJM market over a precipice that fundamentally changes the nature of the electric industry in the United States"
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Obama administration takes largely voluntary approach
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Committee "is concerned that the Obama EPA has been regulating too much too fast"
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NREL publishes its annual "Top 10" list
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Only 44 baseload plants are currently under construction in the continental United States, the report said
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"At least some of the homeowners who claim that their wells were contaminated by shale-gas extraction appear to be right"
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Autodesk, Inc.
"Charging a small business more than $20,000 to bring a complaint is not right"
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Heller to replace Burr on Senate Energy
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"While it seems to us that the disaster in Japan has put new pressure on the operators of nuclear power plants, it is far from certain how the concerns prompted by the unfolding situation there will play out"
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The kit "is a great tool to help our customers understand where they use the most energy"
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Earth Day celebration in King County, Wash.
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TVA said that it found and reported the problem, repaired and tested the valve and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission agrees the plant is operating safely
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He will start his new job on June 11, after John Twitty retires
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Higher market prices would offset cost of retiring plants, Dow Jones reports
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Agency's members "are committed more than ever to joint action" said Clark
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Responses to RFP are due May 23
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Solar Electric Power Association
2011 event takes place June 17-22 in Washington, D.C.
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Session is designed to help management and boards understand their utility’s cost structure
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Naylor, LLC
APPA and other load-side interests have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to rehear its April 12 order approving changes to PJM’s minimum offer price rule for its "Reliability Pricing Model" locational capacity market. In a May 12 filing, the coalition (the PJM Load Group) urged FERC to reinstate the requirement that self-supply be committed in the RPM auctions regardless of price, subject only to verification that the self-supply resource will be available.

The commission needs "to correct on rehearing a step that has taken the PJM market over a precipice that fundamentally changes the nature of the electric industry in the United States," the load group said. "If the commission does not step back from the precipice and grant rehearing, it will have branded traditional vertically-integrated utilities with an obligation to serve as inherently suspect and declared both the regulatory compact and bilateral market revenues to be unlawful subsidies."

The April 12 order "forced fundamental and momentous changes to the design of the PJM capacity construct that will at least hinder and most likely will prevent [load-serving entities] from meeting their obligation to reliably and cost-effectively serve load," APPA and the others said. "By eliminating the assurance that self-supply from new resources must be accepted in the RPM auction regardless of price, the April 12 order could result in unjust and unreasonable rates for capacity," they said.

Customers "will pay once for the cost of legitimate investments made by utilities to meet their load capacity obligations, then again for the cost of RPM-procured and RPM-priced capacity that utilities will be required to purchase as a replacement for new self-supply resources that are rejected from clearing in the RPM auction," the load group said.

The risk of a new plant not clearing the RPM auction creates an uncertainty that will adversely affect financing of new self-supply resources, which will lead to reduced competition from self-supply in constrained areas where it is needed most, the load group said. As a result of the increased reliance on RPM and discouragement of long-term arrangements, there will be increased risk of reliability and price volatility, they said.

The April 12 order unreasonably changed the minimum offer price rule from a mechanism to address the exercise of buyer market power to a mechanism to second-guess and reject LSEs' long-term investment decisions to serve their load, APPA and the others said. RPM was developed through a settlement, and was designed as a residual mechanism that ensured self-supply offers would clear the auction, they said. The minimum offer price rule ensured only that offers designed to artificially depress prices would be mitigated, they said.

The other members of the PJM Load Group are American Municipal Power, Inc.; ArcelorMittal USA, LLC; Blue Ridge Power Agency; the Borough of Chambersburg, Pa.; Delaware Municipal Electric Corp.; Duquesne Light Co.; Electricity Consumers Resource Council; the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel; North Carolina Electric Membership Corp.; Old Dominion Electric Cooperative; Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate; the PJM Industrial Customer Coalition; and the Public Power Association of New Jersey. —ROBERT VARELA

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The Obama administration unveiled its proposed cyber security legislation May 12. The administration took a largely voluntary approach to critical infrastructure cyber security, saying its proposal "emphasizes transparency to help market forces ensure that critical-infrastructure operators are accountable for their cyber security."

The administration proposal would require the Department of Homeland Security to work with industry to identify the core critical infrastructure operators and to prioritize the most important cyber threats and vulnerabilities for those operators. Critical infrastructure operators would develop their own frameworks for addressing cyber threats. Then, each critical infrastructure operator would have a third-party, commercial auditor assess its cyber security risk mitigation plans. Operators who are already required to report to the Security and Exchange Commission would also have to certify that their plans are sufficient. A summary of each plan "would be accessible, in order to facilitate transparency and to ensure that the plan is adequate," the administration said in a fact sheet.

In the event that the process fails to produce strong frameworks, DHS, working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, could modify a framework. DHS also could work with firms to help them shore up plans that are deemed insufficient by commercial auditors, the administration said. —ROBERT VARELA

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Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are asking the Obama administration for more information on the development and impact of a series of recent and pending Environmental Protection Agency rules affecting the electric power sector. "The committee is concerned that the Obama EPA has been regulating too much too fast, without fully analyzing the feasibility and economic impacts of its new rules," the House panel said.

Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., sent letters May 9 to the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Department of Energy posing detailed questions about the EPA rules. They asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson if the agency has analyzed "the effect of this coordinated power sector effort on jobs, the economy, or the competitiveness of U.S. industry." They also asked about EPA consultation with other agencies and groups.

The letter to FERC and DOE requested information on any consultation or information-sharing with EPA and also queried them on their authority to ensure reliability by waiving environmental regulations or directing utilities to continue operating. —ROBERT VARELA

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Public power utilities once again scored well in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s "Top 10" rankings of utility green power programs for 2010. Ranked by renewable energy sales (kWh/year), Austin Energy in Texas sold the largest amount of renewable energy in the nation (including investor-owned utilities), while the Sacramento Municipal Utility District was fourth and CPS Energy in San Antonio was eighth. SMUD was the only public power utility to crack the top 10 in total number of customer participants in green power programs.

Palo Alto, Calif., Utilities rated first nationwide in percentage of customer participation. Other public power utilities in the top 10 in this category were SMUD; Naperville, Ill.; Silicon Valley Power, serving Santa Clara, Calif.; River Falls, Wis., Municipal Utilities; and Lake Mills, Wis., Light & Water.

 Waterloo, Wis., Utilities was first by a wide margin in green power sales as a percentage of total retail electricity sales, followed by Edmond, Okla., Electric. Also scoring in the top 10 were Palo Alto, River Falls, Austin and SMUD.

Ranked by lowest price premium charged for new, residential customer-driven renewable power, Edmond Electric was second nationwide. Onawa, Iowa; Moorhead, Minn., Public Service; SMUD; and Emerald People’s Utility District in Oregon also were among the 10 lowest in price premium charged. —ROBERT VARELA

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Far too few baseload power plants are being built to allow timely replacement of aging nuclear and coal plants when they are ready to be retired, according to a new report. "Baseload power plants produce about 80% of the nation’s electricity so it is particularly alarming how few baseload plants are under construction or have been completed recently," said Build Energy America, a not-for-profit research group. "At this rate, the aging baseload fleet will not be completely replaced with modern nuclear, coal and natural gas combined-cycle plants for 70 years or longer."

No baseload plants are under construction or have been completed since 2009 in most of New England, the mid-Atlantic, upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest, said the report, "States’ Best Practices Attracting Baseload Investment."

"Some relish that U.S. electricity supply could become less baseload and more non-baseload," the study said. "They would consign the country to a supply mix that is more expensive and less controllable and reliable."

Only 44 baseload plants are currently under construction in the continental United States, the report said. If all 44 are completed, which is hardly certain, they would add no more than 24,000 MW of capacity. Regulated utilities are currently constructing only 17 baseload plants that will bring on-line only around 12,000 megawatts of capacity, the study said. The National Energy Technology Laboratory "sees a virtual shutdown in coal construction in the next two years with very few projects under construction (12 projects, 7,600 MW), near construction (one project, 300 MW), or even in the permitting stage (eight projects, 6,400 MW)."

"To put into perspective how sluggish this level of construction is, total continental U.S. baseload generating capacity is presently about 650,000 megawatts," the report said. "This rate of modernizing the baseload fleet is actually more alarming when other factors are taken into account like demand growth for power, expiring licenses of the oldest nuclear plants and air emissions of the oldest coal plants."

Texas and North Carolina alone account for one-quarter of all the new baseload capacity. Aside from Texas and North Carolina, baseload construction activity is vibrant in several southeastern states including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Six other states attracting baseload investment are Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming. Nebraska and Tennessee "are primarily public power states," the report said. "Healthy baseload construction in those two states has been based on the credit strength of government entities."

Regional transmission organizations "can be another increasingly insurmountable barrier to baseload proposals," the study said. Through its market design and FERC-approved tariff, an RTO can bias a region of states away from building baseload and towards favored resources such as demand response. "Can a power plant developer finance a coal plant or even a less capital-intensive natural gas combined cycle plant based solely on market capacity and energy prices? The revealed answer is no; virtually no baseload plants are under construction or have been recently completed on a market basis," the study said. "One potential answer is long-term contracting between utilities and developers for the output of a baseload plant to be built, pre-approved by regulators."

Wholesale market purists that favor increasing the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and regional transmission organizations "will protest such long-term contracts as market interventions that corrupt the free market," the report said. "Notwithstanding these expected criticisms, states certainly have it within their rights to once again deploy their utilities and utility regulation to jump-start needed baseload construction. The value of long-term contracts is especially evident to support the most capital-intensive baseload proposals such as nuclear and advanced coal projects."

The allowance of construction work in progress costs in rate base can be decisive for a state to attract baseload investment by regulated utilities, the study said.

"It was astonishing how pathetic the nation has become in modernizing the vital baseload fleet outside of a few states like Texas and North Carolina," Build Energy America President Steve Mitnick said. "This should be a wake-up call, especially for the many states that are treating baseload as if it’s passé." —ROBERT VARELA

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A study by Duke University researchers has found high levels of leaked methane in well water collected near shale-gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing sites. "At least some of the homeowners who claim that their wells were contaminated by shale-gas extraction appear to be right," said Professor Robert B. Jackson, director of Duke’s Center on Global Change.

The scientists collected and analyzed water samples from 68 private groundwater wells across five counties in northeastern Pennsylvania and New York.
The study found no evidence of contamination from chemical-laden fracking fluids, which are injected into gas wells to help break up shale deposits, or from "produced water"—wastewater that is extracted back out of the wells after the shale has been fractured.

The study found measurable amounts of methane in 85% of the samples, but levels were 17 times higher on average in wells located within a kilometer of active fracking sites. The contamination was observed primarily in Bradford and Susquehanna counties in Pennsylvania. Water wells farther from the gas wells contained lower levels of methane and had a different isotopic fingerprint, the researchers said.

The scientists confirmed their finding by comparing the dissolved gas chemistry of water samples to the gas chemistry profiles of shale-gas wells in the region, using data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. "Deep gas has a distinctive chemical signature in its isotopes," Jackson said. "When we compared the dissolved gas chemistry in well water to methane from local gas wells, the signatures matched."

Methane is flammable and poses a risk of explosion. In very high concentrations, it can cause asphyxiation. Little research has been conducted on the health effects of drinking methane-contaminated water and methane isn’t regulated as a contaminant in public water systems under the EPA’s National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, the scientists said.

The Duke team collected samples from counties overlying the Marcellus shale formation. Accelerated gas drilling and fracking in the region in recent years has fueled concerns about well-water contamination by methane, produced water and fracking fluids, which contain a proprietary mix of chemicals that companies often don’t disclose, the scientists said.

Shale gas comprises about 15% of natural gas produced in the United States today. The Energy Information Administration estimates it will make up almost half of the nation’s production by 2035.

The peer-reviewed study was funded by the Nicholas School and Duke’s Center on Global Change and appears this week in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In a separate white paper, Jackson and colleagues at the Center for Global Change, the Nicholas School and Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions offered recommendations for monitoring and addressing potential environmental and human health risks. The United States should consider regulating hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act and should require full disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking, they said. —ROBERT VARELA

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The Surface Transportation Board should approve a proposal it issued earlier this year to cap the fee it charges utilities and others to file complaints with the agency over railroad shippers' fees, APPA said last month. In some cases, utilities and others who wanted to challenge a shipping rate in a case before the STB have had to pay a filing fee of $20,600. In February, the STB proposed a new rule that would cap the fee for filing such a complaint at $350.

"Charging a small business more than $20,000 to bring a complaint is not right," STB Chairman Daniel Elliott said at the time. "I am afraid that some meritorious cases were discouraged by the high filing fees."

Most of the shippers who complain about excessive rates in coal rate cases are electric utilities, and many are not-for-profit utilities, said APPA in joint comments to the STB that also were signed by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Western Coal Traffic League. "The utilities' customers ultimately pay for excessive rates as part of their monthly electric bills," they said in the April 19 comments.

In 1996, the STB decided to charge $232,200 for cases filed under its Coal Rate Guidelines, and to charge $23,100 for other formal complaints. The agency said the fees were necessary so the board could cover its full cost of processing the cases, but many protested the decision. For example, as APPA notes in its comments, Sen. Kent Conrad said the STB fees "indicate that sometimes people completely take leave of their senses here in Washington when they have responsibility over an administrative function. If there was ever an example of an agency going off a cliff with respect to a proposal, these fees by the Surface Transportation Board are a perfect example."

The Consumers United for Rail Equity coalition, of which APPA is a member, also filed comments on April 19 urging the STB to approve the rule capping the filing fees at $350. High fees for filing a complaint do discourage complaints, CURE said. For example, in 2009 a member of the CURE coalition filed an informal complaint with the STB, challenging a railroad's action in placing a lock on a rail switch to keep another railroad from having access to the shipper's spur into its plant. "The railroad that placed the lock on the switch promptly removed it after inquiries from the [STB], but we are quite certain that the shipper in question would not have spent $20,600 plus legal fees to pursue the matter formally," CURE said.

STB Chairman Elliott said in February that while the new fee structure will make it easier to file formal cases, he hopes that shippers would use the agency's free informal mediation service, called the Rail Customer and Public Assistance Program. The STB also offers a formal mediation program, he noted. —JEANNINE ANDERSON

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Senate Republicans shuffled some committee assignments in response to the resignation of Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., and his replacement by Dean Heller. Heller was given a spot on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee that opened when Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., gave up his energy committee seat to take Ensign’s seat on the Finance Committee. Heller also will join the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., was given a slot on the Budget Committee, and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., is moving to the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

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Standard & Poor's is monitoring the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s response to the nuclear crisis in Japan and later this summer will assess the implication for public power utilities that have a significant stake in nuclear power. "While it seems to us that the disaster in Japan has put new pressure on the operators of nuclear power plants, it is far from certain how the concerns prompted by the unfolding situation there will play out," S&P said in a new report, "What The Fallout From Japan's Nuclear Failure Might Mean For U.S. Public Power and Cooperative Utilities."

Pending the results of expedited NRC inspections and the resolution of outstanding licensing and relicensing requests, S&P said it doesn’t anticipate taking actions on electric utilities' ratings specifically because of their nuclear operations. The NRC is expected to finish its initial reviews sometime this summer. Then, S&P "will assess the implications for not-for-profit utilities that have a significant stake in nuclear power," the credit rating company said.

A licensing delay for planned plants or an interruption of service would likely lead to increased costs and a scramble to tap alternate energy sources, S&P said. If these alternatives add significant costs, they could have negative implications for credit quality, according to S&P’s report.

"Currently all of the public power and cooperative issuers with stakes in nuclear power are investment grade companies," the report said. "They will likely remain so until we see whether the NRC issues any mandates that have material implications for the cost, operations, or relicensing of nuclear plants." S&P said utilities that use nuclear power as "part of a well-diversified mix of generation resources" have "only moderate exposure to new regulatory mandates." —ROBERT VARELA

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Residents of Omaha, Neb., are checking out ways to save electricity and money by checking out Watt Detector kits at the Omaha Public Library, thanks to the Omaha Public Power District. In the program's first two months, Watt Detector kits have been checked out 183 times, the utility said. The kit contains a meter that measures how much electricity appliances use even when they are turned off. OPPD supplied the kits as part of its program to educate customers on using energy more efficiently.

"We appreciate this partnership with the Omaha Public Library," said OPPD President and CEO W. Gary Gates. "This kit is a great tool to help our customers understand where they use the most energy. Armed with that knowledge, they can then manage their energy usage better. And now that we've worked out the details of the program, we can make it available to other libraries in our service territory."

"It made sense for Omaha Public Library to partner with OPPD on this project," Omaha Public Library Executive Director Gary Wasdin said. "The library is a convenient place to borrow the Watt Detector and we hope families will save money with what they learn."

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Seattle City Light’s energy conservation efforts have won a Green Globe Award from King County in Washington state.

King County Executive Dow Constantine presented City Light’s Conservation Resources Director Glenn Atwood with the award during an Earth Day ceremony in Seattle last month.

Glenn Atwood, City Light's director of conservation resources, right, receives the Green Globe Award from a King County staffer. Photo courtesy of Seattle City Light
"Seattle City Light has been a proven partner with us for many years in our ongoing efforts to reduce costs, save resources and improve services to the people we serve," said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who presented the award to the municipal utility during a ceremony on Earth Day (April 22). "By working together and saving energy, we are benefiting our community and our environment too."

The Green Globe Award is the most prestigious environmental award presented by King County. The awards are presented every two years to organizations and community members who are protecting and improving the environment.

"Energy conservation helps our customers lower their costs and reduces our community’s impact on the environment," said Glenn Atwood, director of conservation resources for City Light.

City Light has supported energy conservation for more than 30 years and is recognized as a national leader. The utility said it pursues conservation as its first resource of choice for meeting new customer energy demands. —JEANNINE ANDERSON

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The Tennessee Valley Authority said May 10 it has fixed a faulty cooling system valve at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama. TVA said that it found and reported the problem, repaired and tested the valve and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission agrees the plant is operating safely.

The failure of the valve at Unit 1 of the plant, discovered in October when the plant was shut down for refueling, was "of high safety significance," the NRC said.

It was the most serious safety citation issued by the NRC in eight years, reported The Energy Daily.

The valve is part of a residual heat removal system that helps keep reactors cooled during routine operations and in the event of a fire or other emergency. On Oct. 23, 2010, the valve failed to open when operators tried to use the residual heat removal shutdown cooling loop, the NRC said. TVA later determined that the last time the valve had definitely worked as required was in March 2009 when the loop was placed in service, the commission said.

The NRC issued a "red finding," related to the valve’s performance, which denotes high safety significance. The valve was stuck, "which potentially could have led to core damage had an accident involving a series of unlikely events occurred," the commission said.

The NRC plans to step up its oversight of the Browns Ferry plant as a result of the finding.

"TVA found the problem and fixed it," said TVA Chief Nuclear Officer Preston Swafford. "A manufacturing defect in the valve stem threads, which are designed to screw into the valve disc, were determined to be too small," he said. "We made repairs and reinstalled the valve," which has worked properly during tests, he said.

Swafford said the NRC indicated on May 10 that the violation would not affect Browns Ferry’s return to service when repairs are completed to the area’s tornado-damaged network of power lines, which prompted the plant to safely shut down early this month. (See Public Power Daily, May 2.)

The NRC inspection findings are evaluated using a safety significance scale with four levels, ranging from "green" for minor significance, through "white" and "yellow" to "red" for high significance.

TVA is "considering our options" in responding to the NRC finding, Swafford said. The utility had argued that the valve incident deserved a "green" finding, but NRC staff disagreed. TVA has until June 9 to appeal the matter to the commission.

TVA said the "red" finding was the culmination of a seven-month process to determine the safety significance when one of two independent residual heat removal valves failed to immediately open when placed in service during the October refueling outage.

"Obviously we’re disappointed with the NRC’s findings on this matter," Swafford said. "The safe operation of all our units is our primary concern, and we take any regulatory report of a violation very seriously."

TVA noted that Browns Ferry is currently upgrading its fire protection program to the NRC-endorsed performance-based standard (NFPA 805).

"We’ve worked hard at Browns Ferry to address a number of fire risk concerns, and moving to the NFPA 805 requirements will further help us improve that fire risk margin," Swafford said. In addition, TVA is upgrading other systems to make the equipment that uses the valves less critical to the overall ability of the plant to safely shut down in the event of a fire or other emergency, he said.

TVA shut down all three units at the Browns Ferry plant in 1985. Units 2 and 3 were restarted in 1991 and 1995. Unit 1, which went into commercial operation in 1974, was shut down in 1975 after a fire broke out in the reactor. The fire was caused by a candle that an electrician was using to check for air leaks in insulation around electrical cables. Unit 1 was restarted in 2007 after having been idle for two decades. —JEANNINE ANDERSON

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The Board of Public Utilities in Springfield, Mo., announced May 12 that Scott Miller, currently associate general manager for electric supply for City Utilities of Springfield, will become the municipal utility's next general manager. The appointment will take effect on June 11.

"The board believes that Scott Miller has the best range of skills to build upon City Utilities' excellent history of operations and to prepare for our future," said Patrick Platter, chairman of the board. "We believe the general manager must aggressively plan for the future needs of the community in areas like smart grid technologies, energy management, conservation, and telecommunications, among others."

Miller will be the city-owned utility's ninth general manager since it began operations in 1945. He will succeed John Twitty, who has headed the utility since 2002. Twitty will retire on June 10.

"John Twitty will leave an impressive record of accomplishments at City Utilities," Platter said. "He will be missed, but his contributions to the utility, its customers and the Springfield area will continue to be felt for years to come."

Miller, who joined City Utilities in 2002, recently led the successful construction and startup of Southwest Power Station Unit 2, a 300-megawatt coal-fired unit. Before joining City Utilities, he was director of steam generation for the Dayton Power & Light Co. in Ohio.

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A spate of recent and pending environmental regulations might be very expensive for the electric companies, but they also could help the industry recover in an oversupplied market, Dow Jones reported May 12. The regulations—dubbed the "train wreck" by utilities—would force companies to close older, inefficient plants, which would reduce supply and drive up the cost of electricity, according to Dow Jones. "This is the golden goose," UBS Investment Research analyst Julien Dumoulin-Smith told the news service. Losses from closing plants would be "more than offset by higher earnings from increases in market prices as a result of industry retirement," said Edward Muller, CEO of GenOn Corp., a merchant power generator. —ROBERT VARELA

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Eighteen national, regional and local lenders will participate in a new two-year pilot program that will offer qualified borrowers living in certain parts of the country low-cost loans to make energy-saving improvements to their homes. Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, the new "PowerSaver" loans will offer homeowners up to $25,000 to make energy-efficient improvements of their choice, including the installation of insulation, duct sealing, replacement doors and windows, HVAC systems, water heaters, solar panels, and geothermal systems.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan made the announcement about the participating lenders.

"We believe the market is right for a low-cost financing option for families who want energy-saving technologies in their home," said Donovan. "PowerSaver hits on all cylinders by helping credit-worthy homeowners finance these upgrades, cut their energy bills and boost the local job market in the process. While FHA and these lenders are jump-starting this pilot, we hope its success will lead to a growing private sector interest in making these types of loans."

"Today, we are breaking down barriers and making energy efficiency more accessible and more affordable," said Chu. —J.A.

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The Alabama Municipal Electric Authority honored its 11 members for 30 years of partnership and support during the joint action agency’s 30th anniversary dinner, in Montgomery, Ala., on April 14.

AMEA recognized members during the program with special awards and honored the founding leaders and partners who were instrumental in the formation of the organization.

APPA President and CEO Mark Crisson spoke at the dinner, congratulating AMEA for its three decades of service to its members and to public power. During the program, AMEA was presented with a joint resolution by the Alabama House of Representatives and the Alabama Senate commemorating the occasion.

"Because of the vision, leadership and support of our members throughout the past 30 years, AMEA has become a valued partner in Alabama’s electric utility community," said AMEA President and CEO Fred Clark. The  agency's members "are committed more than ever to joint action, as they are benefiting from AMEA’s power supply initiatives, resources, and selected value-added programs and services," Clark said.

AMEA, located in Montgomery, provides wholesale power to 11 public power utilities in Alabama. Those utilities serve some 350,000 customers in the cities of Alexander City, Dothan, Fairhope, Foley, LaFayette, Lanett, Luverne, Opelika, Piedmont, Sylacauga, and Tuskegee.

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American Municipal Power Inc., based in Columbus, Ohio, has issued a request for proposals seeking a contractor to provide evaluation, measurement and verification services starting on July 1.

The contractor will evaluate AMP's Efficiency Smart program. Proposals are due May 23. The RFP is posted on AMP's website under the heading "Energy Efficiency Program Request for Proposals." —J.A.

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Several deadlines are quickly approaching for anyone attending the APPA National Conference, June 17-22 in Washington, D.C.

The early registration deadline for the conference is May 27. Attendees who register before that date will save $50 on their conference registration fee.

The deadline to make hotel reservations in the APPA room block at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park is May 17. The room block may sell out before this cutoff date, so early reservations are encouraged. If you need help with your hotel reservations, call 202/467-2938 or email the APPA Meetings Department.

The deadline for conference attendees to volunteer for the Public Power Day of Giving is Monday, May 16. The Day of Giving is an opportunity for conference attendees to participate in community service projects across the greater Washington region with their fellow conference participants. The Day of Giving will be held Friday, June 17.

Space is also filling up quickly for the 11 preconference seminars that will be offered on Saturday, June 18, and Sunday, June 19, so attendees are encouraged to register for preconference seminars now to reserve their space. Preconference seminars are designed for utility managers, board members and policymakers, and include topics such as:

• NERC Compliance: An Insider’s Look at Being Prepared for a NERC Audit
• Industry Rate Trends and Future Rate Structures
• Protect Your Customers’ Confidence in Today’s Digital World
• Coping with Financial Challenges in Periods of Declining Sales
• Educating the Public About Demand Response
• Developing Your Most Effective Leadership Style
• New Environmental Regulations and the Implications for the Electric Power Sector
• Developing the Appropriate Smart Grid Business Model for Your Community
• Utility Industry Overview for Policymakers and Managers
• Board and Utility Staff Relations: Synergy and Success
• Overview of Utility Financial Operations for Boards

The National Conference is APPA's premier annual event, designed for utility executives, directors and managers; utility policymakers, including elected and appointed board members, mayors, and city council members; and industry partners, including suppliers, vendors and consultants.

For complete conference program and registration information, visit www.publicpower.org/NationalConference. —LEANNE NIENHUIS

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On Tuesday, May 17, APPA will hold a webinar, "Rate Making for Utility Boards and City Councils," from 2 to 3:30 p.m., Eastern time. The webinar is intended to help management and boards understand their utility’s cost structure and use the information to ensure customer rates are structured correctly.
The instructor, Mark Beauchamp, president of Utility Financial Solutions, will take participants through the information provided by a traditional cost-of-service study and discuss how the information can be used to design customer rates. Other topics will include:
  • Understanding cost-of-service studies and the information provided to management and boards;
  • How marginal cost analysis can supplement traditional studies when developing electric rates;
  • Using cost-of-service study data to design rates and minimize customer impacts;
  • Understanding why rates vary by type of customer; and
  • Determining what type of cost the rate components (facilities charge, energy, demand) are designed to recover.

This is the sixth in a series of eight monthly webinars designed to educate elected and appointed public power board and city council members on the responsibilities and processes of electric utility governance and policy-setting. Upcoming webinars will cover the board’s role in strategic planning and performance monitoring and accountability for boards. 
This webinar is worth 1.5 CPE credits, 0.2 continuing education credits and 1.5 professional development hours.
For more information and to register, go to www.APPAAcademy.org  and click on Webinar Series, or contact Heidi Lambert at 202/467-2921 or HLambert@PublicPower.org. —HEIDI LAMBERT

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Chief executive officer—San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, Monte Vista, Colo. San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, through its executive search consultant, seeks an experienced leader to succeed its retiring CEO. Headquartered in Monte Vista, Colo., the cooperative is located 15 miles west of Alamosa in the heart of the San Luis Valley with expansive mountain vistas and miles of resilient crop fields.  It’s a farming hub for potatoes, alfalfa and carrots, but has become most famous for another agricultural product—Coors barley.  The world’s largest single-site brewery, Coors Brewing Company, based in Golden, Colo., relies on the farms around Monte Vista to produce special barley for its rocky mountain-style beer. The area is surrounded by Colorado’s magnificent mountains—some of which peak at 14,000 feet.  Whether you are going east to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, south to San Luis to see the Stations of the Cross, ride the Cumbres & Toltec Train, north to climb Penitente or west to Wolf Creek Skiing and the Creede Mining District, Monte Vista is an hour from every activity in the San Luis Valley.  It is one hour from Salida, two and half hours from Durango, ninety minutes from Taos and three hours from Santa Fe. The area has abundant hunting, fishing, water-skiing, hiking, biking, golfing, and outdoor recreation.  There are 3 hospitals in the area, as well as Adams State College and Trinidad State Junior College.  The community is family oriented with a strong cultural diversity and a sunny climate. The cooperative serves a strong agricultural, farming and ranching community.  Its service territory covers seven counties and serves 13,000 meters—52% residential and 48% agricultural. The cooperative has 2,800 miles of distribution line, has $28M in annual revenues and 46 full time employees. The successful candidate should have a minimum of 10 years of proven senior management experience in the electric utility industry, preferably in the rural electric cooperative program.  It is preferred that the successful candidate hold a bachelor’s degree in a field related to the challenges of the CEO position, but the board will consider senior level management experience in the electric utility industry and strong leadership skills, in lieu of a degree.  The CEO reports to a seven-member elected board of directors. Candidates should have proven senior management experience in the areas of finance and accounting, member relations, personnel and electric operations.  It is mandatory that the CEO have strong interpersonal skills, strong oral and written communication skills, maintain a positive attitude, have strong leadership skills, be a team builder and work well with the employees, and have the ability to develop positive long term relationships with the consumer members, community organizations, legislators, CREA, Tri-State G&T, the employees and the board. With a full benefit package and relocation expense provided, annual compensation will be commensurate with experience and qualifications.  The CEO should begin work by late in 2011. Application packages need a cover letter, resume, recent salary history, along with six business and three personal references by email, no later than May 31, 2011 to: Langley & Associates Executive Search, Inc., Attn: Carol M. Langley, president, phone 303/694-2228, or fax 303/694-2216, email: cmlangley@earthlink.net. All information kept strictly confidential—an EOE.

Director of power system operations—The Athens Utilities Board in Athens, Tenn., is seeking applicants for the position of director of power system operations.  This position reports to the superintendent of power.  The municipal utility serves a total of 13,119 power customers. Ideal candidate would have a four-year degree in electrical engineering; two to five years experience in the management and engineering of a power distribution system.  Professional engineer registration in the state of Tennessee not required but preferable.  Customer service focus is essential along with strong communication skills and the ability to work with the public. To apply, contact Phyllis Lunceford, plunceford@aub.org.

Deputy superintendent of electric utility—Management position available with municipal electric utility. Nassau City residency required. Required broad utility management experience in the operation of generation and distribution system. Electric distribution and/or diesel engine/generator experience a plus. Knowledge of power planning, environmental and safety regulations. Familiarity with current deregulation issues essential. B.S. in engineering required. EOE. Salary DOQ. Respond with letter, resume, and salary history to popallas@rvcny.us.

Chief executive officer—Grand River Dam Authority. Purpose: this position serves as the chief executive officer, general manager and may also serve as director of investments of the Grand River Dam Authority.  As such, it has final authority for the operations and programs conducted by the authority. Functions and responsibilities: establish goals and strategic planning for all operational objectives and programs to meet the overall mission of the Grand River Dam Authority; provide leadership and guidance to senior staff to implement and carry out these goals. provide information and work closely and effectively with the seven-member Board of Directors. Ensure the efficient operation of the thermal and hydro generation plants; plans and forecasts the sale and purchase of power to cultivate financial stability and growth. Maintain and take responsibility for compliance with all federal and state agencies and regulatory bodies.  Maintain the Grand River Conservation District through the establishment of conservation programs, lake and waterway management and regulations, and cooperative programs with local, state, and federal agencies. Establish programs to enhance marketing opportunities and assist customers with meeting their electrical needs more efficiently. Monitor, evaluate and make recommendations to the board on current and existing investment strategies, including the issuance of bonds as they relate to the operation of the electricity generation and transmission facilities of the district, including fuels. Be the liaison to the state bond adviser and all investment and commercial banks that the district selects for any purpose related to investments, bond issues, or other obligation issues on behalf of the district. Knowledge, skills and abilities required: knowledge of laws relating to generation and transmission of power; of public administration related to utility management; of economic trends in the electric utility industry; and of water and wildlife conservation principles.  Skill and ability in strategic planning; in establishing effective fiscal policies and the ability to read financial reports in order to monitor results; in personnel management and employee communications; in forming and maintaining good customer relations; and in building effective relationships with other utilities, regulating agencies, legislators and stakeholders.  Experience in the management and operation of a public or private electric utility. Desired qualifications: juris doctorate, master’s degree in business, licensed certified public accountant, bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, or a degreed candidate with experience in electrical generation or a closely related field or a strong background in public or business administration relating to the utility industry. The following information will better define the specifics of the duties and responsibilities assigned to the general manager/CEO position. Joint action operations (generation/transmission). The CEO has ultimate responsibility for the following. Generation:  the coal-fired complex has combined assets of approximately $500 million. This includes two 500-MW turbines; multimillion-dollar contracts with coal producers and railroads.  The river pump station supplies water to both the coal-fired complex and the Oklahoma Ordinance Works Authority; and three hydroelectric plants.  Pensacola Dam has six generators which produce 120 MW of power.  Salina Pumped Storage Project has six generators which produce 240 MW of power.  Kerr Dam has four generators which produce 112 MW.  The GRDA also has a 39% interest in the Red Bud Plant with OG&E and OMPA located near Luther, Okla.  This facility is fired by natural gas and requires oversight from GRDA personnel even though the plant is operated and managed by OG&E. Transmission: the Grand River Dam Authority maintains 1,175 miles of transmission lines, over 75 substations and over 400 meters. The majority of these assets are located in a 24- county area in northeast Oklahoma.  The authority also maintains distribution lines for businesses in the Mid-America Industrial Park. The majority of Grand River Dam Authority's power is purchased by municipal customers, rural electric cooperatives, and the industrial customers at the Mid-America Industrial Park.  Excess power is sold to other power companies. Water Conservation District: this district includes several major rivers as well as numerous streams, creeks, and the major water shed area in northeast Oklahoma.  There are two lakes, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees and Lake Hudson, included in the district. The combined size of these two lakes is roughly 60,000 acres with approximately 2,000 miles of shoreline.  They serve as support for much of the economic development for the surrounding areas.  The economic development must be balanced with flood control, wildlife concerns, power production, and recreational interests.  Policies and rules help maintain this balance. General administrative duties: Grand River Dam Authority is a $380 million a year revenue company. It has a net worth of $427 million and possesses significant working capital.  Financial obligations must be met while maintaining a steady growth pattern.  The authority must meet a $133 million per year bond obligation, millions of dollars in coal and railroad costs, payroll for 480 employees, and the need to purchase materials and additional labor necessary to maintain the operations of the Grand River Dam Authority.  This must be balanced with keeping GRDA’s financial ratings at an acceptable level. Director of investments: additionally the CEO may, upon approval of the board, serve as the director of investments if they possess a juris doctorate, master’s degree in business, or licensed certified public accountant.  The director of investments shall be responsible for establishing programs to enhance marketing opportunities and assist customers with meeting their electrical needs more efficiently. Monitor current and existing investment strategies as they relate to the operation of the electricity generation and transmission facilities of the district. Evaluate investment strategies designed to reduce price fluctuations in fuels used by the district. Provide recommendations to the Board regarding the most cost-effective investment strategies with the goal of keeping fuel prices low. Be the liaison with market participants and service providers in implementing investment strategies. Monitor and evaluate all bond issuance strategies and make recommendations to the board regarding the most cost-effective strategies for bond issues; have the experience to work well with the financial rating agencies i.e. Standard & Poor's, Moody's, Fitch, etc. Be the liaison with market participants and service providers in implementing bond issuance strategies. Monitor national and international standards for the issuance of debt obligations by government entities. Monitor conditions of and trends in national and international markets for debt obligations of governmental entities. Monitor qualifications and fees of underwriters, bond and other counsel, financial advisers and consultants, trustees and other fiduciaries, and paying agents. Be the liaison to all rating agencies (Standard & Poor's, Moody's, Fitch, etc.) for the purpose of maintaining or improving the investment grade status of all district bonds and other obligations. Monitor all district bond issues and other obligations to protect district bondholder and obligation holder interests. Be the liaison to all investment and commercial banks that the district selects for any purpose related to investments, bond issues, or other obligation issues on behalf of the district; and otherwise be responsible for monitoring the investments of the district. Salary commensurate with education, experience and training ranging from $135,000 to $225,000. Please send resume to: Allison Goodpaster Carter, Human Resources, P.O. Box 409, Vinita, Oklahoma 74301-0409; www.GRDA.com. We are 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. APPA members can post online ads for $175 for a 30-day posting or $225 for a 60-day posting (rates are $275 and $325, respectively, for nonmembers). Ads in Public Power Daily and Public Power Weekly cost 70 cents per word for members and 80 cents per word for nonmembers, for a one-week run. Job posting subscriptions are available in packages of five or 10, or unlimited for a full year. If you have questions about classified ads, write or call David L. Blaylock, DBlaylock@publicpower.org or 202/467-2946.

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