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From the Desk of Executive Director Richard Putnicki

Fall Convention Recap

Chalk up another milestone! We made it through our first Virtual Fall Convention. Since April, the RMEL staff, with the support from our members, Board of Directors and our Education Section Committees, has transitioned our educational offerings to the virtual venue with webinars and roundtables. The Convention framework posed a whole new set of challenges. Though we are pleased with our first run, we know there are plenty of opportunities to learn from our experiences and improve our product for our participants. What did we learn? Number one...content is still King! The participants noted the quality and insightfulness of all the speakers. They also commented about the importance of hearing from leaders outside our industry, and their perspectives. The CEO Panel continues to be a solid draw. Also, the majority of attendees who provided feedback liked the Convention spread out over multiples days, allowing for easier scheduling and participation. Another key positive was the offering of a Corporate Registration Package, allowing a deeper dive into our member companies than normal. I’d say over 50% of our attendees were experiencing their FIRST RMEL event. We will certainly be looking at continuing that offering for the Spring Conference, as well. Opportunities for improvement? The platform, was not as intuitive to access as we would have liked.  Networking has always been foundational to RMEL and in the virtual world continues to be a major challenge. The access to the networking sessions proved difficult for many of our attendees. We will certainly look for a resolution to that for the Spring Conference. We knew Virtual Exhibits were going to be a challenge in the virtual world going into the Convention. Our suspicions proved true. Again, another item we will be discussing prior to our May Spring Conference to provide our services and supplier members an opportunity to get out in front of the utility membership.     

RMEL Staff and the Board will continue to review opportunities to address these challenges as we begin our preparation for Spring 2021. I do have a request for each of you, though. As the virtual platforms are taking hold, please share your experiences with us. If you had an opportunity to participate in a session that was particularly engaging, let us know about it. What made it work? What was unique? Share anything that you think can enhance our product to our members. All of us are better than any one of us! Please help us provide the best product possible for you! 

Also, be looking for the date and time to our upcoming Planning Session for the Spring Conference. We are framing up that planning event now, and will get the date and time out to you as soon as they are finalized. Join in, and help us plan our 2021 Spring Conference. If you are not able to participate, we are always open to suggested topics and/or white papers on content you believe the membership would like to or needs to see. 

Moving Forward

Let’s talk about the question of WHEN we will meet again? I know we have all been in the place of evaluating what we’ve had to change this year. I want to share with you our insight into what we are looking at for 2021. Hosting an event will eventually come back, maybe an in-person event can occur late next year. I am keeping in close communication with our Board of Directors, along with the Education Section Committees, to continually discuss what employees are wanting and when travel may return to their organizations. The consensus is we will see a slow transition to travel, and when it returns, it may be more on a regional basis. There is total agreement that the "virtual” will be here to stay, possibly in a hybrid formula. 

The following member benefits (plus more) will continue in 2021:

  • Complimentary webinars for ALL members! We will continue to provide complimentary webinars (and PDH certificates) in 2021 to continue engaging as many of your employees as possible; there may be some more intensive virtual trainings with paid instructors, and in those cases we will offer member discounts – the vast majority of webinars will still be complimentary to RMEL members
  • Spring Conference and Fall Convention Group Registration Packages – In addition to the discounted Fall and Spring registration fees, all RMEL members will be able to purchase further discounted unlimited group registration packages for the Spring Conference and Fall Convention. This seemed to work really well for the 2020 Virtual Fall Convention, so we want to keep that going.
  • Library of recorded webinars and other useful videos (complimentary for RMEL members) – we are going to continue to add to the library of On Demand Webinars; additionally, we are going to start posting helpful technical videos from members – more on that soon!
  • This is just the beginning, and we want to get better and better for you all! We will also continue sending out surveys after all webinars and virtual/hybrid/in-person (eventually) conferences, along with ongoing discussions with the RMEL Board of Directors and Education Section Committees and periodic discussion forums with different member groups.

We want to finish the year out on a strong note. Here’s what we’ve got confirmed so far for the end of this year. Our Education Section Committees are continuing to schedule additional topics. 

October 22nd
Thermal and Thermo-Mechanical Large-Scale Storage Solutions Webinar & Roundtable
Presenter: Heiko Grootens, Siemens Energy
This presentation will be a brief overview and comparison of long duration storage technologies, including:

  1. Liquid air energy storage
  2. Compressed air energy storage
  3. Pumped heat energy storage
  4. Electric thermal energy storage
  5. Energy nest thermal storage

October 27th
Webinar: Aluminum Conductor Steel-Reinforced Cable
Presenter: Chris Lyles, VP of Asset Planning & Management, Western Area Power Administration 
Aluminum Conductor Steel-Reinforced Cable was initially installed without vibration dampeners.  Vibration issues began to occur at the suspension points with damage to the outer strands.  The repair made back in 1993 used a full tension splicing method which has been failing throughout the years.  The focus of the discussion will be the initial conductor issue, evidence of potential splicing failure, and path forward to replacement. 

November 3rd
The UAS Toolbox: How the Right Structure and Technology Can Help Programs Take Flight
Presenter: Blaine Horner, Geospatial Market Director, Merrick
Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) have emerged as an approachable and relatively inexpensive tool for power companies to utilize.  Positive project outcomes depend on successfully structuring the three parts of a UAS project: data collection, data organization and information analysis. There is rapidly developing technology in each of these three areas having large impacts on how projects should be structured and managed. This presentation will dissect each of the three defined UAS project areas. The presentation will identify how collection processes are affected by airframe technology, sensor technology, flight software, project startup and evaluation, mobilization and collection fail points. Data organization is often overlooked on UAS projects but has proven on large scale projects to be the single most important step.  We will discuss technology, challenges and processes, which impact data organization, with examples of successful approaches shared. Lastly, the presentation will seek to identify where technology is successfully performing analytics and where it still needs to grow. Discussion will cover the range of possible delivery platforms and types, power company ingestion methods and data examples.

November 5th
RMEL Virtual November Safety Roundtable: Disruptive Innovation in Ergonomics, Health & Safety
Presenter: Raffi Elchemmas, MBA AEP CHST, National Manager, Health & Safety
This presentation will showcase the causes and risk factors of ergonomic injuries in the construction industry, and provide a step by step process to reduce and recognize ergonomic injuries on the jobsite. This presentation will also discuss recommended ways of preparing for tooling tasks to minimize risk for ergonomic injury and identify traits of tools that help you achieve that goal by using cutting edge scientific measurement equipment to quantify the levels of ergonomic risk of a tool. We will also showcase how Milwaukee solutions fit into the Safety Hierarchy of Controls.

November 12th
Combustion Turbine Flexibility Webinar & Roundtable

We hope to see y’all virtually soon and again in person hopefully soon after that! Thank you and stay SAFE!


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