RMEL eNews
RMEL Report

From the Desk of Richard Putnicki, Executive Director, RMEL

Welcome to the Future!

I always appreciate the opportunity that a new year provides us. It is almost like giving us permission, sometimes with cause, to look at this new year with consciousness and intent that "I am making this year better than last year..." It's invigorating with the anticipation and excitement, of all the potential possibilities that lie ahead. So here we are, beginning the new year with a sense of new opportunity and a fresh start!  

Just look at how much our  industry has changed in the last 5-10 years alone. The utility workforce has taken the initiative to embark on the seemingly impossible and make it possible, all while keeping the power industry's traditions of reliability and affordability standing strong. I have great appreciation for those who have taken on the new electric energy challenges during the journey with optimism and tenacity. As we begin another great year, I am eager to see just what RMEL members will accomplish and the opportunity for RMEL to support those efforts by the time we reach the big 2020. I challenge each of you to approach this year as an opportunity to continue the journey on the path of our ever evolving industry. 

The RMEL team of Board, staff and Education Committees are actively building curricula and venues that support our members' efforts with timely and relevant program content. We are kicking off our first event of the year in two weeks, the Introduction to the Electric Utility Workshop on January 17th. More and more talented new people are joining the industry, and member companies are sending new and non-technical employees to the RMEL community because you, the RMEL members, are a strong network and a valuable resource for each other. This is great start to a collaborative year for RMEL member companies collectively addressing today's biggest vital issues facing the industry.

The RMEL Steam Generation Cycling Symposium, February 20-21 in Overland Park, KS, 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. This two-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.   

Here are some other RMEL happenings that I think you'll find useful...there's something for everyone!

RMEL's Technical Training Events for Safety, Generation, Transmission, Distribution and Vital Issues

A free Safety Roundtable will be held at Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association on February 22. The Transmission Planning and Operations Conference, covering new technology, asset management and data analytics, will be March 6-7. Then we'll look at engineering, operations and design best practices during the Distribution Operations, Maintenance, Asset Management and Reliability Conference March 12-14 in Salt Lake City, Utah. To round out RMEL's "March Madness," the Safety Conference will be held March 27-28, 2019 in Kansas City, MO.

Please keep your eye out as we finalize details for our upcoming Security Conference, targeting the mid-April timeframe.

RMEL is Honoring Emerging Leaders ? Nomination Deadline is February 28

Now is a great time to start thinking about who you'd like to nominate for RMEL's Emerging Leader Award. The deadline to submit 2019 nominations is February 28, 2019. This industry is not short on challenges, and as your team stays nimble and gets the job done ? who is the person that really takes it to the next level? The RMEL Awards Program is not just about the award plaque ? this program provides an important acknowledgement for your staff as you build your leadership pipeline. 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, at the Spring Management, Engineering Operations Conference the last three years, Emerging Leader Award winners had the unique opportunity to participate in strategy session with 2016 Spring Conference Keynote Speaker Mark Eaton, former NBA All Star, and 2017 Spring Conference Keynote Speaker Tom Osborne, Former Head Football Coach and Athletic Director, University of Nebraska, and 2018 Spring Conference Keynote Speaker Commander Kirk S. Lippold, USN, who was the Commanding Officer of the USS Cole on October 12, 2000, when the ship was attacked and bombed by al-Qaeda terrorists.

Make sure your organization and your best people are part of this group. Nominate an Emerging Leader Award Recipient before February 28th.

RMEL Foundation's Scholarship Program - Deadline is February 27

Please help spread the word about RMEL Foundation scholarship opportunities! RMEL member companies are the primary avenue by which these scholarships are promoted. Applicants must complete the online scholarship application. Scholarship eligibility and general information are available here. The online application must be completed by February 27, 2019. Over the past 18 years, 320 scholarships have been awarded totaling more than $743,500. The RMEL Foundation is making a difference, and we thank you for your generous donations and promotion of the scholarship program, especially those who donated during the RMEL Foundation Auction at the 2018 Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention.

The Loss of an Airline Icon

Some of you may know that I have a strong affiliation with Southwest Airlines, as my wife and daughter have been long-time members of the Southwest family as employees. Yesterday, we lost an icon, not only to the airline industry, but to our business world. Herb Kelleher passed away January 3, 2019, at the age of 87. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Herb. The co-founder and longtime leader of Southwest Airlines revolutionized air travel by practically inventing the low-cost, low-fare airline, and turned the airline world upside-down. Herb built an airline on the back of a cocktail napkin in the late 1960s into the largest U.S. carrier. His maverick approach, commitment to employees and belief that all people have value, were fundamental to Southwest Airlines and their success. In fact, many college curricula share the Southwest Airlines' story. Ginger Hardage, former Sr. Vice-President of Culture and Communications for SWA, shared with our Fall Convention attendees the power of the culture Herb created. Thank you, Herb.  Let us never forget the LUV he gave us! 

Here's to celebrating icons like Herb from our past as we look forward to a great future! 

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Education and Upcoming Events

Don't Miss These Upcoming RMEL Events
Introduction to the Electric Utility Workshop — January 17, 2019 (Lone Tree, CO)
Steam Generation Cycling Symposium — February 20-21, 2019 (Overland Park, KS)
Safety Roundtable — February 22, 2019 (Westminster, CO)
Transmission Conference — March 6-7, 2019 (Lone Tree, CO)
Distribution Conference — March 12-14, 2019 (Salt Lake City, UT)
Safety  Conference — March 27-28, 2019 (Kansas City, MO)
Spring Management, Engineering & Operations Conference — May 20-22, 2019 *NEW MONDAY-WEDNESDAY DATES* (Phoenix, AZ)
Transmission Symposium — June 12, 2019
Power Supply Planning for Modern Energy Solutions — June 19-20, 2019 (Lone Tree, CO)
RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament — June 26, 2019 (Littleton, CO)
Project Management Workshop — July 10-11, 2019 (Golden, CO)
Plant Management, Engineering and Operations Conference — August 7-8, 2019
Leadership Workshop — August 14-15, 2019 (Lone Tree, CO)
Safety Roundtable — August 23, 2019 (Golden, CO)
Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention — September 16-18, 2019 *NEW MONDAY-WEDNESDAY DATES* (Kansas City, MO)
2020 Spring Conference Planning Session — October 3, 2019
Distribution Engineers Workshop — October 9-10, 2019 (Lone Tree, CO)
Renewable Planning & Operations Conference — October 23-24, 2019 (Lone Tree, CO)
Safety Roundtable — November 1, 2019 (Fort Collins, CO)

   
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RMEL Member Information

RMEL's trusted network is now accessible on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter. These are forums intended for RMEL members only. Working side-by-side in a cooperative manner, RMEL members band together for the common goal of bettering the industry and improving service for utility customers. For more than 100 years, these key principles have proven successful, and more importantly, are tried and true methods for building strong business relationships.

Industry Information
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy has issued a Notice of Intent for a Funding Opportunity Announcement focused on recovering rare earth elements and critical materials from domestic coal  resources, using novel and conventional extraction, separation, and recovery processes.
State Grid Corp. of China has started up the world’s longest and most-powerful ultra-high voltage power line from its far northwest to the heavily populated east.
 
  
To the relief of electric cooperatives, the Environmental Protection Agency plans to replace its 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which significantly expanded what waters and wetlands should be federally regulated.
 
EPA on Dec. 11 proposed to limit “waters of the U.S.” to traditional navigable waters and tributaries, ditches, wetlands and other features that have direct and consistent flows into navigable waters.
For hydropower, 2018 was a bit of a rollercoaster year. Again, the buzz around solar, and wind, had a tendency to overshadow hydro in the popular media. Regardless, hydroelectricity continued to be a valuable contributor to worldwide electricity supply, with plants being built and pumped storage getting quite a bit of traction toward the end of the year.
Southern Company is the highest-rated energy company and No. 7 overall in G.I. Jobs Magazine's annual ranking of the top military friendly employers.
  
New vehicles in Washington will be required to meet the most stringent emissions standards in the country, regardless of whether the Trump administration is successful in rolling back those requirements, state officials announced on Wednesday.
 
The Quarterly Coal Distribution Report (QCDR) provides detailed U.S. domestic coal distribution data by coal origin state, coal destination state, mode of transportation, and consuming sector. All quarterly data are preliminary and will be superseded by the release of the Annual Coal Distribution Report.
Americans are consuming less coal in 2018 than at any time since Jimmy Carter's presidency, a federal report said, as cheap natural gas and other rival sources of energy frustrate the Trump administration's pledges to revive the U.S. coal industry.
The new year opened with the completion of acquisitions that expand the reach of two of the South's dominant utility companies, making them even larger.
Electric cooperatives in Oklahoma and Colorado sent volunteer linemen to Guatemala to power two remote villages.
 
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Member Announcements
Austin Energy Green Building recently hit a big milestone, now boasting more than 15,000 single family homes in the Austin area that have earned an AEGB rating since the program’s launch in 1991.
  
Pinnacle West Capital Corporation announced that Jeffrey B. Guldner has been named president of Arizona Public Service (APS), the company’s principal subsidiary.  He will have responsibility for all areas of APS excluding nuclear generation.
 
Guldner reports to Don Brandt, chairman, CEO and president of Pinnacle West and chairman and CEO of APS.  Brandt, who currently serves as chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute, will retain direct responsibility over nuclear generation to leverage his industry experience and ensure a continued focus on excellence at Palo Verde Generating Station.
Black Hills Corp. announced its Black Hills Energy electric utility subsidiaries in South Dakota and Wyoming filed for approval of new, voluntary renewable energy tariffs to serve customer requests for renewable energy resources.
CPS Energy is ready to help customers who are U.S. federal employees and who are being affected by the recently launched government shutdown. Specifically relative to their energy bills, CPS Energy has a variety of money-saving and general assistance programs designed to help all customers who have informed us of a hardship.
El Paso Electric Company announced the selection of resource additions needed by the 2022-2023 summer peak season. 
Lincoln Electric System’s Sustainable Energy Program returns this year with $1.5 million in incentive funds. Additionally, LES has retained unspent funds from the 2018 Sustainable Energy Program for development of expanded residential programs in 2019 that are consistent with the program’s goals and complement other community residential initiatives.
The message is nearly the same from Nebraska Public Power District.  NPPD retail and wholesale customers will see no overall average electric rate increase in rates for 2019, following action by the utility’s Board of Directors.
Platte River Power Authority is pleased to announce that, for the fourth consecutive year, the Roy J. Rohla Memorial Scholarship will be offered through the RMEL Foundation. 
PNM became the first utility in the world to place a new protective relay device into service on a high-voltage 345kV transmission line that connects from the northwest part of the state, near Farmington, into the Albuquerque metro area.
Salt River Project is opening a public process on Dec. 20 to consider a proposed overall average annual price decrease of 2.2 percent. The $64 million overall decrease in prices proposed by SRP management is a result of a reduction in fuel expenses and a modest increase in base prices. The proposed decrease will vary by customer type and price plan.
  
On Dec. 9, 10 of our line techs left for California to help repair transmission damage caused by 10,000 wildfires this year. In true co-op fashion, our crew gave up their holidays with families and friends to help Pacific Gas and Electric Company(link is external) and their customers for the next 30 days. Areas hit by the wildfires are still without power in tricky and challenging terrain.
 
 
 
When viewers tune in for KOLD News 13’s weather forecast, they now can find out how many homes were powered by solar and wind energy that day. KOLD is believed to be the only TV station in the country to air a solar and wind energy report as part of the news. The segment, which began in October, is part of a unique partnership between KOLD and Tucson Electric Power to educate customers about our renewable energy efforts. 
 
The largest Lithium-ion battery storage installation in the state of Colorado which ENGIE North America developed and constructed for United Power was inaugurated in December.
Western Area Power Administration will host a webinar Jan. 11 at 10 a.m. Mountain Time to present its proposed Open Access Transmission Tariff revisions to customers and other stakeholders.
Xcel Energy, a national leader in renewable energy, rolled out a clean energy vision that will deliver 100 percent carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050.
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Scientists at Stanford University have designed an electrocatalytic mechanism that works like a mammalian lung to convert water into fuel. Their research, published December 20 in the journal Joule, could help existing clean energy technologies run more efficiently.