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We kicked off the 117th Fall Convention last week, virtually! So far, the speakers have provided political, economic, social and industry clarity and analysis to help us all continue Powering Through Disruption. They have been absolutely outstanding!

Keynote Dan Bartlett, Former Counselor to President George W. Bush and current EVP of Corporate Affairs for Walmart, gave a political insider’s perspective on the impacts of what might happen during and after this election year. Anirban Basu, Chairman & CEO, Sage Policy Group, shared leading indicators of the economy’s bounce back from COVID-19 and how electric utilities can position the energy industry for success in these uncertain times. Our first Tuesday closed out with the senior leaders from a few of our Architecture/Engineering member companies sharing the challenges of the current market future trends, and impactful technology.  Our panelists included Jim Doull, Executive Vice President, Director, Global Conventional Generation, Black & Veatch; Holger Peller, Executive Vice President of Power Delivery, POWER Engineers, Inc.;  Jon Gribble, Executive Vice President, Kiewit Engineering Group and Aaron Frahm, Director of Engineering and Technology, Mastec Power Corp. Moderator Elaina Ball, Senior Vice President and Interim Chief Operating Officer, El Paso Electric, led a discussion detailing how contractors are dealing with construction delays, workforce strategies and the economic market and lessons learned from client projects this year.

Our second Tuesday started with the popular CEO and Presidents Panel.  Our Panelists included Paula Gold-Williams, President & CEO, CPS Energy; Duane Highley, CEO, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association; Alice Jackson, President, Xcel Energy – Colorado; and Mike Kotara, President, Engineering Group, Zachry Group. Paul Barham, 2020-2021 RMEL President & Sr. VP of Energy Delivery Services, CPS Energy, moderated this discussion, fielding audience questions on topics ranging from how their organizations are keeping the lights on through crisis, disruption and social unrest, technology and innovation, and how they are planning for the future.  We closed out the day with Kathleen Nalty, President, Kathleen Nalty Consulting, LLC.  She lead an interactive session during which attendees engaged in a competitive game and visualization exercise, as well as created their own personal action plans to interrupt unconscious bias.

Of course, we had a little business to tend to.  We also had our first-ever "virtual” passing of the gavel from 2019-2020 RMEL President Joel Bladow, Sr. VP, Transmission, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, to 2020-2021 RMEL President Paul Barham.  Joel has done an incredible job leading us through 2020, and I have much appreciated the leadership, guidance and support he has provided the RMEL team throughout these unprecedented challenges.  Thank you, Joel!  Paul has been very active and in constant communication with Joel and myself as he prepares to take on this role in still very uncertain times.  I am looking forward to working closely with Paul and the entire RMEL Board of Directors this coming year and am thankful to all for being so active and taking the success of all RMEL members to heart. You can be confident that the RMEL Board of Directors has your back! Congratulations to Paul, and we look forward to navigating the future of the Association and the electric energy industry with you at the helm!

We’ve got more Fall Convention presentations coming up next week, plus other RMEL Section events throughout the next few months. We’ll be adding more to this list, so keep an eye on the RMEL event calendar!

Fall Convention
September 29th Educational Sessions – Day 3 Preview

For the first time in history, there are five generations working side by side. Meagan Johnson, Generational Expert, Speaker and Author, will outline the dominant generational forces in the workplace and how each generation's "signpost" drives motivation, influences company loyalty, builds morale, delivery of customer service and communication between managers, employees and coworkers.

Thomas Casey, Managing Principal, Discussion Partner Collaborative LLC, will share the research associated with the book, Leadership Development-The Next Curve To Flatten, and bring forward suggestions as to how RMEL leaders should approach the challenges of 2020 and beyond.

The Obama administration's Clean Power Plan originally targeted a 32% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels. Now much more aggressive 2050 decarbonization targets for the power sector are being introduced by investor owned utilities, states, municipalities, politicians and regulators. Grant Grothen, Principal, Burns & McDonnell, will discuss Burns & McDonnell’s model of what the decarbonization path would look like for various aggressive reduction targets and impact to the current generation fleet.  


RMEL Educational Programing

September 24th
Webinar/Roundtable: The Role of Hydrogen in Future Energy Storage Systems

Hydrogen is a flexible energy carrier that could enable the integration of disparate energy systems, including electricity, heating, and industrial sectors, to improve economic efficiency, reliability, flexibility, environmental performance, and resilience. Indeed, hydrogen can be produced from a variety of sources and is widely used in a variety of industrial and chemical processes. Josh Eichman, Sr. Research Engineer, NREL, & Omar José Guerra Fernández, Research Engineer, NREL, will explore the role of hydrogen in high or ultra-high renewable energy systems.

October 8th
Market Driven Generation Flexibility

Steve Mills, Vice President, Energy Supply Operations, Xcel Energy will cover the impact from the system dispatch demand, the various philosophical changes in asset focus and the issues that have surfaced from the exponential increase in renewables.

October 13th
Situational Awareness for Wildfire Risk Management

Anthony D. Palizzi, Regional Manager Power, Americas, Fugro USA Land Inc., will demonstrate how multiple utilities are implementing the latest in VWAM solutions to advance situational awareness and realize the benefits in decrease operations costs, decrease risks, increase reliability, increase asset life and increase customers satisfaction. 

November 5th
RMEL Virtual November Safety Roundtable

Roundtables offer a unique forum for peer-to-peer sharing of experiences, critical issues and expertise. The roundtable is a discussion group, open only to RMEL members. Discussion is based on topics brought by attendees.

We sincerely appreciate the way that RMEL members are gathering together in these various virtual settings. We can hardly wait to see everyone in person again, but we are enjoying connecting however we can in the meantime! I look forward to working with the RMEL Board of Directors and RMEL Section Committees to continue adding to our offerings for the Fall and into 2021, and we hope to see you virtually soon!

Stay SAFE!


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