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From the Desk of Richard Putnicki, Executive Director, RMEL


Leading to New Heights: Charting the Course for Tomorrow’s Energy Innovations

While the industry around us is changing, what has specifically changed for you? Can you use the same strategies that worked 5 years ago? How are you keeping up with innovation while staying efficient? What upgrades are you trying to make right now? I hope RMEL and the wealth of knowledge from RMEL members are a part of your strategy. RMEL events, publications and resources are designed to facilitate sharing among RMEL members so you can feel confident that your daily processes have the right balance of efficiency and innovation.

The 2018 Spring Management, Engineering and Operations Conference theme is Leading to New Heights: Charting the Course for Tomorrow’s Energy Innovations. During the conference, May 20-22, in Keystone, CO, sessions and discussion will focus on strategies, best practices and solutions that electric utilities are using and adapting with an eye on the future. At every RMEL event, I hear questions like, “Has anyone else tried this? Did it work? What are your lessons learned?” You’ll get solid answers back from your RMEL contacts.

The Spring Conference program of 25+ sessions is designed from the very start by RMEL members collectively discussing the biggest engineering and operations questions and struggles they are facing at all levels of their utility. The best ideas make the cut, and from there members find the people who have the answers. When everyone arrives in Keystone on May 20 and then leaves on May 22, they will have something new in their toolbox to help address those big struggles. We are bringing in a renowned authority on leadership, the Former Commander of the USS Cole, to help us all steer our course for invention.

Kirk Lippold will set the tone of the conference as the 2018 Spring Conference Keynote Speaker. He was in command of the USS Cole when it was targeted by a deadly al Qaeda terrorist attack in 2000, 11 months before 9/11. His team training prior to the attack and unflappable leadership after galvanized his crew to action, resulting in lives and the ship being saved.

Day 2’s General Session is the popular Electric Utility Executive Leadership Panel. Leaders from several utilities will share their strategies for moving forward with today’s biggest industry challenges during this panel, while sharing insight on emerging issues and future planning. The panel will feature: Alice Jackson, VP, Strategic Revenue Initiatives, Xcel Energy; Bruce Rew, VP, Operations, Southwest Power Pool; Dawn Roth Lindell, Acting Executive VP & Chief Operating Officer, Western Area Power Administration; and Mindy Tagler, Sr. VP & CFO, Holy Cross Energy. Tom Kent, VP & COO, Nebraska Public Power District, & 2018 President, RMEL, will moderate the panel. You won’t want to miss this important discussion.

I hope to see you in Keystone May 20-22!


Take a look at the educational offerings our committees have prepared for you in June.  We will be taking two important regional symposiums to Austin and Omaha.  We also have a leadership workshop on the schedule, and close out the month with our annual scholarship fundraiser, the RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament.

Transmission Resiliency, Response and Restoration Symposium
June 6-7, 2018 – Austin, Texas

This symposium will explore different aspects of preparing for and responding to natural disasters from the perspectives of resiliency (examples: California wildfires, southeast hurricanes, Nebraska tornadoes and ice storms), response (examples: U.S. Virgin Islands lessons learned, Hurricane Harvey air response and staging, mutual assistance programs) and restoration (example: transformer relocation during restoration efforts).

Effective Teams and Myers Briggs Workshop
June 13-14, 2018 – Lone Tree, Colorado

Utilizing the work of Patrick Lencioni’s “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, you will learn about and experience specific tools and approaches to building high-functioning teams. You will also gain insights to your own style and its impact on your leadership. By the end of the session you will have an action plan for moving from teamwork pain to organizational gain in your own workgroup. 

Steam Generation Cycling Symposium
June 14, 2018 – Omaha, Nebraska

The RMEL Steam Generation Cycling Symposium will provide an interactive forum for presentations and discussion surrounding the operational environment and the resulting impacts of increased cyclic operation of coal generation facilities. The increased penetration of intermittent and low fuel cost generation in today’s integrated energy marketplace has influenced the demand for flexible generation from coal generators with increased cycling conditions including low load operation, starts/stops, and ramping. This one-day symposium will cover information pertaining to energy market conditions, and the associated impacts on plant condition and maintenance, operation and solutions to these challenges. 

RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament
June 27, 2018 – Littleton, Colorado

The 2018 Golf Tournament benefits the RMEL Foundation scholarship program. The RMEL Foundation provides scholarships to deserving and qualified university/college students focused on engineering or curriculum related to the electric energy industry with the intent of encouraging students to pursue a career in the electric energy industry. The Foundation also provides scholarships to those pursuing an electric industry position certificate or associate degree at a college (community college, two-year college or a four-year university).

It’s going to be an exciting couple of months, and there’s more great events coming in 2018! Always feel free to contact me with your ideas and let us know how we can better address the challenges you’re facing.


I want to extend my gratitude to Diane Johnson, former General Manager, Yampa Valley Electric Association. She recently left her position on the RMEL Board of Directors, and I thank you, Diane, for your insights and contributions to RMEL, along with your participation on the Electric Energy Executive Panel at RMEL’s 2017 Spring Conference. We wish you all the best!   

With Diane's departure, we welcome two new board members: Susan Kidd, GM, T&D Engineering & Technology, Arizona Public Service; and Khalil Shalabi, VP, Strategy, Technology & Markets, Austin Energy. We are excited to have these two executives on board and look forward to future continued success.

Thank you to everyone for your engagement and RMEL membership! I look forward to seeing you soon!


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