RMEL eNews
RMEL Report

From the Desk of Richard Putnicki, Executive Director, RMEL

RMEL MARCH MADNESS IS A SOLID BET
Attend Events for Safety, Generation, Transmission and Distribution

Basketball Madness starts this week. As teams prepare to bring their “A” game to the post-season, the RMEL Education Committees have compiled a "tournament-ready" schedule of conferences this month!  With two successful events already completed, I extend congrats to the work and engagement of the Generation Committee for the Power Supply Planning and Projects Conference and Roundtable, and to the Transmission Committee for the Transmission Planning and Operations Conference. Both Committees compiled the right speakers and content that allowed the attendees to explore current trends, relevant projects and market perspectives of our changing industry. Next week, we’ll look at industry best practices for emerging technologies during the Distribution Overhead and Underground Operations and Maintenance Conference, March 21-22. We close out the month with the ever so important topic to our industry and our Association — safety! Safety is not a sometimes thing. Safety must be at the forefront in everything we do. Our Safety Conference theme, Everyone's a Leader, reminds us we all have a part in contributing to an effective safety program. Join us and learn from industry peers at the 2018 RMEL Safety Conference, March 28-29.  We assure you that the conference will dive into the challenges we face today and safety best practices. I would encourage you to click on the links to get a more detailed summary of our events. The RMEL Section Education Committees, comprised of our membership, keep the content relevant and current. Hats off to them for the work and contributions they provide. Please keep up the good work, everyone! No matter what happens to your bracket this month, you will be a winner in attending the RMEL events.

FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND RMEL COLLABORATION
The Distribution Line Design Workshop You’ve Been Looking For

Registration is now open — the Association for Utility Line Design Professionals, also known as UtilityLDPros, in collaboration with RMEL and Collaborative Learning, Inc., is offering a comprehensive, 4-day line design training program that you won’t want to miss. RMEL member utilities will be asked to complete a short survey to assist in the presentation content. Those completing the survey will receive a copy of the tabulated results. Please contact our office if you are interested in participating. Space is limited to ensure a quality learning experience for the brand-new RMEL offering. The Best Practices in Overhead Distribution Line Design Workshop coming to Colorado, April 23-26. We hope to see you there!

RMEL’s 2018 SPRING MANAGEMENT, ENGINEERING AND OPERATIONS CONFERENCE
Leading to New Heights — Chart Your Course for Tomorrow’s Energy Innovations

Join your electric energy peers in Keystone, CO, May 20-22, to discover the latest technology, best practices and solutions for Generation, T&D and Management.

Kirk Lippold, Former Commander of the USS Cole, 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 afterward galvanized his crew to action, resulting in lives and the ship being saved. 

The Spring Conference program of 25-plus timely and relevant technical 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 conference attendees leave Keystone on May 22, they will have something new in their toolbox to help address those big struggles.

YOU ARE BUILDING THE LEADERSHIP OF THE FUTURE
Thank You to Everyone Who Submitted RMEL Emerging Leader Award Nominations

We had a record number of Emerging Leader Award Nominations this year, and I really thank you all for stepping up to represent those who are making an impact in the industry and at your organizations. The Board of Directors is excited to honor these outstanding individuals, and I think that the high number of nominations is a great sign of leaders developing leaders across the power industry. Well done! The esteemed group of Emerging Leader Award recipients are a valued and respected group at RMEL, and we look for opportunities to engage these folks and help them meet their potential. For example, 2018 winners, along with past winners, will be invited to a strategy session with 2018 keynote speaker, Kirk Lippold, Former Commander of the USS Cole. We will be contacting winners (and those who nominated them) soon, and announcing those winners at the 2018 Spring Conference in Keystone.

Speaking of great leaders, I would  be remiss for not acknowledging my personal and professional appreciation to Andy Ramirez for his continued contributions to RMEL. We received word this past February that Andy is retiring from El Paso Electric and turning his badge in for a fishing pole. Andy is the secondmost senior board member, with 11 years of service to the RMEL Board, and I appreciate his friendship over my past seven years at RMEL. We are anxiously awaiting the invitation to the fish fry, Andy! Best wishes to you and Mimi and enjoy your time with this new chapter as you turn of the page! 

As we're all still adjusting our mental clocks to “spring-forward,” I am energized by all of the upcoming opportunities for RMEL members to share and learn from each other to hopefully make the mounting challenges ahead easier. Please check out our upcoming events and we hope to see you soon here in Denver and up in Keystone!

WEBINAR: How to Address Your Aging URD Cable
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Education and Upcoming Events

Distribution Operations and Maintenance Conference --- March 21-22, 2018 (Lone Tree, CO)
Safety Conference --- March 28-29, 2018 (Lone Tree, CO)
Best Practices in Overhead Distribution Line Design Workshop --- April 23-26, 2018 (Lone Tree, CO)

Spring Management, Engineering and Operations Conference --- May 20-22, 2018 (Keystone, CO)
Transmission Resiliency, Response and Restoration Symposium --- June 6-7, 2018 (Austin, TX)
Effective Teams and Myers Briggs Workshop --- June 13-14, 2018 (Lone Tree, CO)
Steam Generation Cycling Symposium --- June 14, 2018 (Omaha, NE)
2018 RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament --- June 27, 2018 (Littleton, CO)
Plant Management, Engineering Operations Conference --- August 1-2, 2018 (Location TBD)
Leaders Developing Future Leaders Workshop --- August 15-16, 2018 (Lone Tree, CO)
Safety Roundtable - August 2018 --- August 24, 2018 (Golden, CO)
Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention --- September 16-18, 2018 (San Antonio, TX)
Planning Session: 2019 Spring Conference --- October 4, 2018 (Lone Tree, CO)
Distribution Engineers Workshop --- October 10-11, 2018 (Lone Tree, CO)
Renewable Planning and Operations Conference --- October 18, 2018 (Lone Tree, CO)
Safety Roundtable - November 2018 --- November 2, 2018 (Fort Collins, CO)

   
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Industry Information
  

Linemen must maintain positive control of the loose ends of conductor at all times, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Conductors, however, often have a mind of their own. Even when uncoiled from a reel, they can snap back into shape. In turn, the loose end of a conductor can whip around violently, creating a hazardous work area. For example, while observing his line crew cut hot jumpers, Kevin Grinstead noticed that his linemen were at risk of getting struck by the loose end of a conductor. At that moment, he decided he wanted to find a better and safer way to perform the task, and he went to work on his invention.

The use of batteries to reduce peak demand charges may be one of the most clearly defined business cases for battery energy storage among electric distribution cooperatives in the U.S., according to a report released yesterday by cooperative bank CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. The report found that the main driver for adoption of battery systems among electric distribution cooperatives is load shaping. “The ability to discharge a battery during times of peak demand reduces the demand charge the ED pays to its generation and transmission provider, potentially reducing the cost of energy for the [electric distribution cooperative's] members,” the report said.

Two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories with energy research expertise are joining forces to pursue research on new ways to use coal to create innovative high-value products. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed today by representatives of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) at NETL’s Pittsburgh site. DOE Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steve Winberg attended the signing event.

  

The operators of the electric distribution grid that serves most of Texas foresee record-breaking electric power usage this summer, while also facing tight operating reserves because of fewer generating units online. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas on Thursday attributed the expected record peak usage this summer to the strong Texas economy. It blames the tight reserve generating capacity to the recent retirement of older generating units on the grid.

Andersons has partnered with ICM, a global biofuels process technology provider, to jointly develop and operate a bio-refinery with a capacity of 70 million gallons per year, in Colwich, Kansas. The Element bio-refinery, a technologically advanced ethanol production facility, will be built adjacent to ICM's headquarters.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Coal Report and Mine Safety and Health Administration

Coal mining productivity in the United States increased 26 percent over the past five years, reaching 6.8 tons per miner hour in 2017, up from 5.4 tons per miner hour in 2012, according to EIA’s Annual Coal Report and data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Coal productivity ranges significantly across production regions, with productivity in the Powder River Basin far exceeding productivity in the Interior and Appalachian regions.

 

Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) restored power to an additional 30,000 customers overnight and continues to make significant progress following the massive winter storm that pounded the entire Mid-Atlantic and New England region last weekend. JCP&L is also closely watching for future storms expected to move up the East Coast, and will keep all personnel in place this week to quickly respond to any additional outages.

  

Millions of Europeans who arrived late to work or school have a good excuse — an unprecedented slowing of the frequency of the continent's electricity grid. The Brussels-based European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, or ENTSO-E, said Wednesday the problem began in mid-January and affects 25 countries, from Portugal to Poland and Greece to Germany. It says the deviation from Europe's standard 50 Hz frequency is caused by a loss of energy in the area of Kosovo and Serbia because of a political dispute between the two countries.

NRG Energy announced a series of asset sales, including renewable energy subsidiary NRG Yield, for a combined $2.8 billion. Global Infrastructure Partners has agreed to purchase NRG Yield and NRG’s renewable platform for $1.375 billion. The sale includes NRG’s renewable energy development and operations platforms and NRG’s renewable energy backlog, with the exception of four assets which secured separate agreements. The deal with Global Infrastructure Partners is expected to close in the second half of the year. The 527-MW Carlsbad Energy Center and the 154-MW Buckthorn Solar will be purchased by NRG Yield for $407 million. Both projects are still under development.

 
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Member Announcements
  

Salt River Project's Board of Directors today selected Mike Hummel to succeed Mark B. Bonsall as the General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, leading day-to-day operations of the community-based, not-for-profit public power utility. Hummel, 57, will assume responsibilities in May. Hummel is currently SRP's Deputy General Manager of Resources & Finance. Bonsall announced his intention to retire last year after working at SRP since 1977. "I am honored to have been able to work at this company for the last 35 years of my life and humbled to have been chosen to continue to build upon SRP's already strong legacy," said Hummel. "The community we serve can expect that I will lead this organization in the best interest of our electric customers, water shareholders and our dedicated employees."

The 62nd Annual Austin Energy Regional Science Festival, the second largest city-sponsored science fair in the country, took place Feb. 21-24, at the Palmer Events Center. “The students who compete in the science festival today will design, build and operate a more sustainable future frontier,” said Jackie Sargent, Austin Energy General Manager. “Austin Energy is committed to supporting STEM education and partnering with schools and employers to develop the next generation of engineers, scientists and mathematicians who will improve our lives with technology.”

Two homegrown leaders in renewable energy, Arizona Public Service and First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR), are bringing a first-of-its-kind 50-megawatt (MW) solar-fueled battery to the desert to provide clean power to Arizonans on hot summer days. This project will make Arizona home to one of the largest battery storage systems in the country. The innovative design models how the future of solar and storage can work together to deliver power to customers during peak hours. First Solar will build and operate this flagship facility that includes a 65-MW solar field to charge the battery. APS has signed a 15-year power-purchase agreement with First Solar that will enable APS to use the stored battery power when energy use is at its peak later in the day. 

Basin Electric is issuing a Reverse Request for Proposal (RFP) for power supply out of Basin Electric’s Laramie River Station (LRS) west side units. Basin Electric is seeking proposals to sell capacity and energy for the amounts and points of delivery as defined in the Reverse RFP. Copies of the Reverse RFP can be downloaded on Basin Electric’s website.

  

The CPS Energy Board of Trustees today voted to nominate Dr. Willis Mackey to fill the board vacancy for the Southeast Quadrant to replace outgoing Trustee Derrick Howard. Dr. Mackey’s name will be submitted to the San Antonio City Council at a future council meeting by Mayor Ron Nirenberg where the City Council will vote to confirm or reject the nominee. “Based on the robust candidate pool we previously received, we were able to find a strong nominee in Dr. Willis Mackey,” said Board Chair John Steen. “Dr. Mackey’s extensive background will bring additional leadership to the Board to meet the business and strategic needs of CPS Energy. We are excited about him joining us, and know his experience as a lifelong educator will provide added value to our work.”

Great Plains Energy has announced plans to increase its renewable energy portfolio with the signing of two power purchase agreements (PPA) for an additional 444 megawatts (MW) of power from two new wind facilities owned by both EDP Renewables and NextEra Energy Resources in Kansas. That’s enough energy to power more than 160,000 homes. This announcement will increase Great Plains Energy’s wind resources to more than 1,800 MW of wind capacity which will be approximately 25 percent of the company’s generating portfolio in 2019. The company also recently announced construction of the 300 MW Rock Creek Wind Farm in Atchison County, Missouri, was completed in November.

Cooper Nuclear Station, located in Nebraska's southeast corner, quietly churns out electricity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, generating low-cost, reliable, non-carbon emitting electricity for customers of Nebraska Public Power District. But there is another side of Cooper just as quiet and just as powerful as the 820 megawatts of electricity the plant produces. That is, its role as an economic engine for southeast Nebraska and the state. A recent economic study conducted by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) concludes that Cooper’s operations provide a significant economic stimulus for five counties in southeast Nebraska, resulting in $112 million in statewide economic output annually.

  

PacifiCorp has selected four new wind projects to fulfill plans to significantly expand the amount of wind energy serving customers by 2020. The four projects will expand PacifiCorp’s owned and contracted wind power by more than 60 percent and add enough new wind energy to power approximately 450,000 average homes. The new wind development is part of the company’s Energy Vision 2020 initiative, which also will upgrade the company’s existing owned wind fleet in Wyoming, Washington and Oregon with longer blades and newer technology, and build a new high-voltage transmission line in Wyoming to connect the new wind energy to PacifiCorp’s grid.

Platte River Power Authority has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for at least 20 megawatts of new solar energy capacity that could be added to its system, which serves Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland, Colorado. The RFP also called for up to 5 megawatt-hours of energy storage capacity. “Our municipal owners and their customers want additional carbon-free energy resources when it makes sense,” said Jason Frisbie, general manager and CEO of Platte River. “We believe we can provide customers with more solar power at very reasonable costs while maintaining our strong standards for reliability.”

  

Mid-Kansas Electric Company Inc., along with its sister company Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, announced its plan to purchase renewable energy from a 20-megawatt solar project scheduled for construction in southwest Kansas. The cooperatively operated wholesale generation and transmission utility has signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with Lightsource BP, an independent power producer that will build, own and operate the solar facility. Kansas Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann and dignitaries from Mid-Kansas, Lightsource BP and NRCO attended the event held at Mid-Kansas’ headquarters.

Tucson Electric Power is supporting a new Tucson Fire Department (TFD) program that connects non-emergency 911 callers with agencies that can best help them. In February 2016, TFD launched the Tucson Collaborative Community Care program, or TC3, which is designed to reduce the number of non-emergency 911 calls from frequent callers in an effort to free up resources to respond to more serious life-threatening emergencies. The TC3 team helps match callers with community resources and agencies to help them manage the life crisis they might be facing. Non-emergency callers who over-rely on emergency responders are referred to the small four-person TC3 team, which personally visits the caller to assess his or her overall well-being, living arrangements and basic needs.

 

Xcel Energy today named David Eves, executive vice president, group president – Utilities, effective March 1. Eves will oversee the leadership of Xcel Energy’s operating companies, a responsibility held by Marvin McDaniel Jr. who previously announced his retirement. Eves currently serves as president of Xcel Energy – Colorado, and will continue in both roles at this time. “David’s in-depth knowledge of the industry and vast background in the planning, generation, and delivery of energy makes him well suited for this role,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. “He is an exceptional leader who will continue driving the company’s clean energy transition while keeping customer bills low.”

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Precious metals are the standard catalyst material used for extracting hydrogen from water. The problem is these materials — such as platinum, ruthenium and iridium — are too costly. A team from KTH Royal Institute of Technology recently announced a breakthrough that could change the economics of a hydrogen economy. Led by Licheng Sun, professor of molecular electronics at KTH, the researchers concluded that precious metals can be replaced by a much cheaper combination of nickel, iron and copper (NiFeCu).