RMEL eNews
RMEL Report

From the Desk of Executive Director Richard Putnicki

We had this eNewsletter ready to go on schedule last Friday, and we decided to hold off until we could get our arms around the rapidly changing coronavirus (COVID-19) updates and give members solid answers about our plans. Well…it seems like an understatement to say that a lot has changed in less than a week. We’ve made some hard decisions based on the information at hand and the trends we have been following. Though, none of us are any closer to "having our arms around” the long term impact, we are proceeding with caution. We closely monitored the quickly changing situation that unfolded around all of us, at work and at home. The Board of Directors shared an open dialogue regarding what was happening at their organizations. That communication has been invaluable, and I thank the Board members for their proactive communication with us. As things started to evolve and change daily, and sometimes hourly, it became more apparent that we were going to have to take action on RMEL’s upcoming events. The Board of Directors, after a recommendation from staff, endorsed the decision to postpone our remaining March events.

At this time, RMEL has postponed the Transmission Planning and Operations Conference, the Distribution Technologies for Engineering and Operations Workshop and the 2020 RMEL Safety Conference-Don’t Mess with SafetyThis was not taken lightly, and we focused on key indicators to drive our decision, including recommendations from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, member organization travel restriction and attendee/speaker participation/cancellations. Each of those components demonstrated an adverse trend. Members have implemented travel restrictions eliminating most, if not all, domestic travel. Most importantly, the safety of our attendees is our number one priority, and we felt this was the right decision to make with that in mind. 

I want to sincerely thank our RMEL Section Committees and speakers for all the hard work in preparation for these events. Most of the speakers have already expressed interest in participating when the session are rescheduled. The outpouring of support from speakers and committee members has been truly humbling, and a true testimony to our industry, our membership, and our Association. They’re offering to help however they can in the meantime, and they’re expressing their dedication to this member community. I think that’s a great sign for the resiliency of this industry and of members to continue collaborating, possibly in new ways, through this uncertain time.

As of today, we are moving forward with plans to host our Spring Conference in Austin, May 11-13; however, we are approaching the Spring Conference under the same set of considerations we used to evaluate our March events. We will continue to provide updates, maintain business continuity and serve the RMEL member community. As always, we welcome any feedback and considerations from your perspective and the perspective of your organization.

On behalf of the RMEL Board of Directors, thank you for your continued support. It goes without saying, safety is paramount in our industry, and we appreciate your understanding!

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Education and Upcoming Events

POSTPONED - Transmission Planning and Operations Conference --- TBD
POSTPONED - Distribution Technologies for Engineering and Operations Workshop --- TBD
POSTPONED - 2020 RMEL Safety Conference --- TBD
2020 Spring Management, Engineering & Operations Conference --- May 11-13, 2020 (Austin, TX)
Plant Cycling & Flexibility Symposium & Tour --- June 10-11, 2020 (Overland Park, KS)
Transmission Resiliency, Response & Restoration Symposium --- June 17-18, 2020 (Denver, CO)
2020 RMEL Foundation Golf Tournament --- June 24, 2020 (Littleton, CO)
Project Management Workshop --- July 8-9, 2020 (Denver, CO)
Grid-Scale Storage Workshop & Tour --- August 5-6, 2020 (Denver, CO)
Leadership Workshop --- August 12-13, 2020 (Denver, CO)
Safety Roundtable - August 2020 --- August 20, 2020 (Golden, CO)
2020 Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention --- September 14-16, 2020 (Denver, CO)
Planning Session: 2021 Spring Conference --- October 1, 2020 (Lone Tree, CO)
Renewable Planning and Operations Conference --- October 21-22, 2020 (Denver, CO)
Transmission & Distribution Asset Management Workshop --- November 4-5, 2020 (Denver, CO)
Safety Roundtable - November 2020 --- November 5, 2020 (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.

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!

Industry Information
Independent System Operators (ISO) and Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO) responsible for operating the nation's electric grid are working to limit the spread of the coronavirus, as EEI signaled companies need to prepare to continue delivering electricity with a smaller workforce.
Eight different developers have proposed 36 transmission upgrades designed to help ISO New England address reliability issues created by the two-stage closure of Exelon's Mystic Generating Station in the early 2020s.
 
  
Exelon's Peach Bottom plant became the second nuclear power reactor in the U.S. to get permission to operate out to 80 years, after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved another 20-year extension on Friday.
  
Hybrid energy storage is positioning energy storage at the same transmission node as a solar or wind or any other resource. Solar plus storage is a popular combination in the industry right now due to Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for commercial solar projects. Another reason why solar plus storage is favored is, storage increases the capacity value of solar.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) selected one project to receive approximately $1.5 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development under the second closing of funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002001, Crosscutting Research for Coal-Fueled Power Plants.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released a new version of its FLOw Redirection and Induction in Steady State (FLORIS) model for wind plant performance optimization. 
U.S. natural gas production grew by 9.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2019, a 10% increase from 2018. 
Each year, the U.S. federal government gives states and hospitals approximately $1 billion for disaster preparedness. 
In a week which has rocked worldwide oil prices, the latest federal statistics show that daily U.S. natural gas production rose yet again in 2019, likely ensuring continued historic low prices for gas used in power generation.
The board of directors of Southwest Power Pool (SPP) approved the 2020 SPP Transmission Expansion Plan Report, which contains a comprehensive list of transmission projects in the SPP region, at a gathering of the utility's stakeholders in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Jan. 27-28. 
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Member Announcements
  
Current Nebraska Public Power District Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Thomas Kent was officially named as President and Chief Executive Officer of the utility, following approval by the Board of Directors Thursday. A native of Tilden, Neb., Kent has been with the utility for 30 years, including the last nine years in his current position. He replaces Pat Pope who announced in February he was stepping down from his position at the end of April and will focus on e-connectivity and future generation strategies for NPPD as a special assistant to the CEO.
Arizona Public Service and national business organization Advanced Energy Economy announced Arizona Clean Energy Future, a joint project to develop solutions to help APS achieve its ambitious goals for clean energy and support electrification of the transportation sector.
The Lignite Energy Council (LEC) is conducting the 2020 Teacher Seminar, “Energy, Economics and Environment,” at the Bismarck (North Dakota) State College in Bismarck, June 8-11. Basin Electric will pay for travel costs for teachers from South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, and Iowa who reside within Basin Electric’s service territory, and LEC will cover the rest.
Itron, Inc., which is innovating the way utilities and cities manage energy and water, and CPS Energy, the nation’s largest municipally owned energy and natural gas utility in the city of San Antonio, Texas, have expanded their collaboration to improve energy-water literacy and launched a new online resource aimed at providing interactive educational resources and materials to educate communities and inspire the next generation talent pipeline. 
Evergy, Inc., a vertically integrated, regulated, investor-owned electric utility, announced that it has entered into an agreement with affiliates of Elliott Management Corporation, which currently own an economic interest equivalent to approximately 10 million shares of Evergy’s common stock. 
The time has come to celebrate the launch of a new community solar farm with the official ribbon cutting for the Scottsbluff II project.
NextEra Energy, Inc. has been recognized once again as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. 
Omaha Public Power District works continually to help ensure electric service reliability for its customers. During their committee meetings this week, the OPPD Board of Directors received a status update on those efforts, as the monitoring report for Strategic Directive (SD) 4: Reliability was presented.
Platte River will sponsor focus group sessions with residents and business owners to discuss energy portfolio options as part of the organization’s 2020 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). 
  
Southern Power, a leading U.S. wholesale energy provider and subsidiary of Southern Company, announced that the 100-megawatt (MW) Wildhorse Mountain Wind Facility in Pushmataha County, Okla., is now operational.
 
 
  
The award-winning Grand Canalscape project, a 12-mile multi-use trail stretching from the I-17 freeway to the Tempe border, will marked its completion with a public grand celebration. The free ceremonial grand opening will be held along the Grand Canal north bank from just east of Central Avenue between Central High School and Brophy College Preparatory Academy.
 
 
  
United Power Board Chair, James Vigesaa, announced at an all-employee meeting yesterday, that CEO John Parker is on a medical leave transitioning into retirement. Chief Operating Officer, Bryant Robbins, has been named as Acting CEO, effective immediately.
Are you considering an electric vehicle (EV) for your next new car? Tucson Electric Power’s new EV Comparison tool can help you evaluate the costs and benefits of buying a new EV instead of a gas-powered vehicle.
 
  
The first All-Employee Meeting of 2020 was held Jan. 15 at Headquarters in Lakewood, Colorado, with the presenters discussing a wide range of topics.
   
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A completely passive solar-powered desalination system could provide more than 1.5 gallons of fresh drinking water per hour for every square meter of solar collecting area. Such systems could potentially serve off-grid arid coastal areas to provide an efficient, low-cost water source.