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RMEL Report

From the Desk of Executive Director Richard Putnicki

I hope you’ve had a great start to Fall. This is one of my favorite times of the year. In my mind you can’t beat the enthusiasm that college football brings! On a parallel note, we get excited about what the Fall Convention brings to this association. It is our opportunity to feel the pulse of the industry and provides us an insightful look at what lies ahead. This is due, in part, to the perspectives and experience shared by our assembled speakers. This year was no different.  Though I was not able to attend this year’s event, the feedback I received was very positive. First, my special thanks to the RMEL staff for dotting “I’s” and crossing the “t’s” with all the follow through of the convention coordination. Surround yourself with good people, and great things happen! My sincere appreciation also goes out to Scott Fry and his leadership as President, and the RMEL Board for their engagement and contributions that solidify our association. And finally, thank you to all of the speakers and attendees, especially Terry Bassham’s team at Evergy, for making the event a fantastic success! I especially want to thank John Doggett for kicking off the event on a great note, and each of the speakers who took time from their schedules to share their experiences and perspective. And of course, ending the event with a great CEO Panel which, once again, provided for a quality close to the Convention. Thank you Terry, Nick, David and Kevin, for your candid and enlightening discussion from the CEO’s seat. A perfect close to a great event. We’ll have a special Fall Convention Wrap Up eNewsletter for you in the next few weeks.


Fall Convention CEO Panelists: Terry Bassham, Evergy, Inc.; Nick Brown, Southwest Power Pool; David Tudor, Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc.; and Kevin Wailes, Lincoln Electric System

John Doggett, Sr. Lecturer, McCombs School of Business, University of Texas, kicked off the Convention examining the industry’s “strategic inflection point,” with global data and strategies to sustain and grow the industry

Thank you to all of the attendees and speakers who brought the convention theme to life: Market Influencers and Opportunities: Leading Our Industry in Times of Change. 

A key component for the RMEL team is coupling the discussion of the Convention and the conversation shared at the Vital Issues Forum. I wanted to highlight one of the messages that came out of RMEL’s 2019 Vital Issues Forum, which was held during the Convention and afforded senior utility executives the opportunity to candidly discuss the industry’s biggest challenges, solutions, strategies, success stories and experiences.

Clifton Taulbert, our Day 2 Keynote and first time Vital Issues attendee, was genuinely excited to see how much RMEL members share with each other. There’s a distinct level of trust among RMEL members. Competitiveness doesn’t really seem to exist when you all start working together to build the future of the industry. He noted that the Vital Issues Forum and all RMEL roundtables are a win-win for continued success. “Communication breeds more communication. No one has every answer, but every answer is in the room,” he said. “It’s like there are pieces of the puzzle floating around in the room, so you begin to get an idea in your head. And you ask a question that you maybe never would have asked.”

I want to unpack that quote because I think it says a lot about not just RMEL, but the entire industry and all of your companies and organizations and all associations that are here to support the sustainability and success of the electric energy industry. The more we facilitate the sharing of our individual experiences and challenges, the more enlightened we are as we go into our next set of experiences and soon we start to see more cases where we overcome challenges and have more and more success stories. Whether we choose to share those stories in our office with our colleagues, with our bosses, through presentations and articles, whatever the case may be…the more that those success stories are shared, the more we as an industry overcome the growing number of obstacles we are faced with. “Communication breeds more communication.”

Of course, I sure hope that RMEL is a venue that you all choose to have these types of discussions; but more importantly, I hope it’s something that you all practice in your day-to-day operations. Sure, at some point, the rubber meets the road and it’s enough talk and we’ve got to just get the job done. But, in between, please utilize your network of contacts and always ask the questions. The left-field questions and the difficult questions are part of what gets us from here to there.

With that in mind, please take a look at what RMEL members in RMEL’s five Education Section Committees for Safety, Generation, Transmission, Distribution and Vital Issues have chosen to focus on for the remainder of 2019 and 2020.

Remaining 2019 RMEL Events

Distribution Engineers Workshop
October 9-10, 2019, Denver Marriott South, Lone Tree, CO

Workshop topics:

• The Future of the Electric Utility
• Utility Emergency Reaction Panel 
• Distribution Resiliency and Fundamentals of 100-Year Cable Life
• Specifying Quality Cables 
• Leadership - Consulting vs. Utility Discussion
• Financial Justification Fundamentals
• EV Charging Load Factors
• DERMS Overview
• Arc Flash Considerations with Distribution Overcurrent Protection
• Austin Energy's Experience with AUD, Automated Utility Design Software 
• Leveraging the Communication Network 
• Identifying Solutions 101

Renewable Planning and Operations Conference
October 16-17, 2019, Denver Marriott South, Lone Tree, CO

Conference Topics:

• Innovative Strategies to Integrate Variable Energy Resources into Bulk Power Systems
• Update on Latest Energy Storage Options
• SPP Strategic Initiatives with a Changing Fuel Mix
• Austin Energy Community Solar Program 
• Key Aspects to Repowering a Wind Farm
• Wind and Solar Best Practices 101 for Projects & Contracts
• Battery Technology Safety Panel

Electric Utility Financial Decision Making Workshop
October 28-29, 2019, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, Westminster, CO

This two day course focuses on electric utility decision making and will cover the following topics:

• Business Building Blocks
• Generation and Energy Market Fundamentals
• Cash-Based Financial Decision Making
• Valuation of Cash Flows (Net Present Value)
• Handling Uncertainty
• Capstone Case Study: Blastoff

Safety Roundtable – November 2019
November 1, 2019, Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association, Fort Collins, CO

Randy Nieman and Steve Kearney, ART Corporate Solutions, will provide an overview of ART® services performed on-site at our client locations – including an overview of ART®, how it works and why clients love it.  In addition, we’ll introduce some of the key steps to a successful implementation and how companies can get started with ART®.  Lastly, we’ll share some data on treatment volumes, resolution, and ROI calculations.

Preliminary List of 2020 Events for Safety, Generation, Transmission, Distribution & Vital Issues

Look for full details soon on the 2020 slate of RMEL events. Here’s the preliminary list of event topics:

• Introduction to the Electric Utility Workshop
• February Safety Roundtable
• Power Supply Planning for Modern Energy Solutions Conference
• Transmission Planning and Operations Conference & Roundtable
• Distribution Overhead and Underground Operations & Maintenance Conference
• Safety Conference
• Security Symposium
• Spring Management, Engineering & Operations Conference
• Plant Cycling & Flexibility Symposium & Tour
• Transmission Resiliency, Response & Restoration Symposium
• RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament
• Project Management Workshop
• Grid-Scale Storage Workshop & Tour
• Leadership Workshop
• August Safety Roundtable
• Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention
• 2021 Spring Conference Planning Session
• Distribution Engineers Workshop
• Renewable Planning and Operations Conference
• Asset Management Symposium
• November Safety Roundtable
• 2021 Fall Convention Planning Session

Send Us Your Training Needs, Questions and Ideas

We are so excited about another big year of RMEL member collaboration and sharing of experiences. RMEL’s five Education Section Committees for Safety, Generation, Transmission, Distribution and Vital Issues are hard at work planning the remaining 2019 events and a full calendar of 2020 events, and they would love to hear from you! Whether you have a quick question or a specific topic and speaker you’d like to share, you can use the Electric Energy Topics Submission Form. Submissions will be sent to the appropriate committees. You are always welcome to email me directly with questions and/or ideas.

Going back to the idea of unpacking the quote from the Vital Issues Forum, let’s all keep the conversation going as you all continue to strengthen and evolve this industry. RMEL is your association. It’s by members for members, and we are only here to support and facilitate that communication. I thank you all for your continued trust in each other and RMEL as we work toward the future.

Education and Upcoming Events

Don't Miss These Upcoming RMEL Events
Distribution Engineers Workshop — October 9-10, 2019 (Lone Tree, CO)
Renewable Planning & Operations Conference — October 16-17, 2019 (Lone Tree, CO)
Electric Utility Financial Decision Making Workshop — October 28-29, 2019 (Lone Tree, CO)
Safety Roundtable — November 1, 2019 (Fort Collins, CO)
2020 Spring Management, Engineering and Operations Conference — May 11-13, 2020 (Austin, TX)
2020 Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention — September 14-16, 2020 (Denver, CO)

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.

RMEL Champions is a prestigious group of RMEL supporters with access to useful and beneficial promotional opportunities. Get more details, and see a list of 2019 RMEL Champions!

Burns & McDonnell
Industry Information

Minnesota Power is designing and building the 224-mile (360 km), 500-kV Great Northern Transmission Line through some of the most extensive peat bogs found in the U.S.’s lower 48 states. 
CenterPoint Energy proposed a green tariff for renewable natural gas that was rejected by Minnesota regulators, but the utility says the fuel is a viable path to decarbonization.
The California Independent System Operator (ISO) reports that the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has signed an implementation agreement to join the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM).
Dominion Energy on Monday filed a $2.8 billion, 10-year grid modernization plan that includes a "new customer information platform" powered by the rollout of almost 1 million smart meters in the first years. 
Spring Labs, which is developing a network that it says will transform how information and data are shared globally, announced that four Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing providers have selected Spring Labs to develop a national property lien registry for PACE financing.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced 32 winners for $56.5 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects for advanced coal technologies and research under six separate funding opportunity announcements (FOAs).
BWX Technologies Inc. is restarting its TRISO nuclear fuel production line. The company announced that it also plans to expand its existing capacity within a year or so. BWXT is hoping to have its nuclear fuel capacity ready and available to meet the needs of U.S. Department of Defense microreactors, space reactors and civil advanced reactors, according to the release.
Hydrogen is all around us but out of sight, tied up in water, natural gas, plastics and elsewhere. Freed, that hydrogen could power cars and store energy for use later - all while leaving no emissions behind but water.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) International Energy Outlook (IEO) presents an
analysis of long-term world energy markets in sixteen regions through 2050.
Maryland officials say the nation’s first fully converted gas-to-electric refueling and service station for electric vehicles has opened in the state.
The next step towards the potential for a carbon capture operation at Nebraska Public Power District’s Gerald Gentleman Station is moving forward with the announcement of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory’s funding for the study.
CopperLeaf Technologies Inc.
Member Announcements
The nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) named Austin Energy as a 2019 Green Power Leadership Award (GPLA) winner. Nine winners were recognized for their roles in promoting and expanding the use of clean, renewable energy. The awards were presented at the GPLAs at the Renewable Energy Markets 2019 conference in San Diego on Sept. 5.
Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) issued two separate Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for solar and wind resources. These RFPs were first announced in late July and will help expand the company’s renewable energy portfolio to approximately 2,500 megawatts by 2021 – enough to power more than half a million Arizona homes.
Paul Sukut, Basin Electric CEO and general manager, was part of a panel discussion Sept. 25 during the annual meeting of the Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership, held in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
El Paso Electric (EPE), through its Community Partner Program, presented a $15,000 grant at a check presentation ceremony to the Success Through Technology Education (STTE) Foundation to continue its advocacy of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education.
The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy recently announced the availability of approximately $1.2 million in funds allocated to Nebraska under the Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Environmental Mitigation Trust for State Beneficiaries, which is part of the court settlement of Volkswagen emissions violations from 2009-15. 
Omaha Public Power District knows its customers are looking for ways to reduce their energy usage – to save on their bills and for the benefit of the environment. To help, we’re launching a new and improved energy efficiency section on our website, oppd.com/EE, coinciding with Energy Efficiency Day.
On behalf of its four owner communities, Platte River Power Authority issued a request for proposals (RFP) for up to 150 megawatts of additional photovoltaic electric generating capacity.
Salt River Project has filed an application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility (CEC) with the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee for an upcoming project to provide energy services and infrastructure to a commercial customer in Mesa.
Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, and the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) announced Sept. 9 their decision to join Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) Western Energy Imbalance Service (WEIS) market. 
United Power partnered with Touchstone's national balloon program to present to donations to area nonprofits.
Not sure if you’re on the right pricing plan? Use our new Pricing Planner tool on tep.com to find out and take control of your electric bills by choosing a plan for works for you. The Pricing Planner can analyze your electric use over the past year to estimate the average bills you could expect to pay under each of our four unique pricing plans: Time-of-Use (TOU), Peak Demand, Demand TOU and Basic.
Sierra Nevada line crews are gearing up for the second half of a large maintenance job that uses a helicopter to replace a total of 610 insulators on 49 dead-end structures in northern California.
Xcel Energy announced that it entered an agreement with Itron to secure smart meters to install across its system. The agreement creates a new strategic collaboration with Itron to develop industry-leading smart technology for the energy grid and to give customers more insight into their energy usage, while enhancing grid reliability and improving response time to outages.
White Paper
Wildfire risk management for power line initiated wildfires. Learn about fire retardants, vegetation management and various technologies used by utilities.