RMEL eNews
RMEL Report

From the Desk of Executive Director Richard Putnicki

My message today is a short one of gratitude to you all. I want to extend my sincere appreciation to all RMEL members for your understanding of the scheduling impacts, your notes of appreciation for your association, and the generous offers of assistance during this unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in. I have never had more faith in our members than I do now. The past few days have allowed me the opportunity to participate in many of our monthly Education Committee calls. With each call, I am in awe of the responsiveness of the member companies and their ability to adjust work practices "on a dime”. Three weeks ago, we were hearing about this emerging pandemic, not fully understanding the implications we would be facing. The speed and agility of how our member organizations were able to respond while maintaining business continuity was amazing. This a true testament to the leadership within our membership and our industry. 

RMEL Board and staff recognize this is also a critical time for our association. With the postponement of our March and April events, along with the cancellation of the Spring Conference, we recognize there could be a strong possibility that other events may be canceled, thus impacting a key foundational element of the value of RMEL……networking! The RMEL Board of Directors and Education Section Committees are stepping up in a big way by exchanging ideas on ways to help members collaborate by providing timely and relevant programing that can help members navigate the impacts of COVID-19.  

In addition, I have received numerous emails from members offering any assistance they can provide in developing and maximizing an RMEL eLearning platform, to potentially include webinars, podcasts, and virtual roundtable discussions. When the dust ultimately settles, and we are able to re-engage with our event offerings, our members will now have expanded options to build their learning experience. I am hopeful that I will have more news on this very soon! The RMEL membership's willingness to help makes it so clear to me why the people in our industry have relied on your association since 1903. 

Please continue to follow the recommendations from our safety and health professionals. Practice social distancing, stay home when possible, and be mindful of the challenges ahead. Let us all do our part to navigate through these unprecedented times!

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Education and Upcoming Events

CANCELED - 2020 Spring Management, Engineering & Operations Conference --- May 11-13, 2020 (Austin, TX)
POSTPONED - 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)

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!

   
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Industry Information
For utilities in areas hit hard by coronavirus infection, their emergency plans to shelter in place to maintain critical infrastructure facilities is no longer an abstract plan, but is being put into action on a scale not seen before in most countries.
 
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. EIA produces energy data and analysis to provide context for how a variety of energy industries serve customers in the United States and abroad. 
  
National Grid has suspended for three months rate increases for electric and gas customers in upstate New York, in response to economic fallout related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  
Only three major electric industry supply chain vendors registered to participate in last year's GridEx V, the biennial simulated cyberattack run by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) in order to test the utility sector's preparedness and response plans.
  
With China being the epicenter of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, POWERCHINA International Group shared how it has supported the fight so far.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans to provide up to $22 million for research aimed at achieving breakthroughs in the effort to capture carbon dioxide directly from ambient air. 
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced a Request for Information (RFI) seeking public input on a potential funding opportunity to demonstrate and evaluate the capacity of energy-efficient buildings to interact with one another and the grid to provide greater degrees of demand flexibility at scale. 
  
Utility companies are beginning to integrate distributed energy resources (DER) as the evolution of smart technology and the next-generation grid emerges.
   
CopperLeaf Technologies Inc.
      
Forbes Bros LTD.
   
Member Announcements
Austin Energy takes tremendous pride in serving its customers — not just in delivering safe, reliable and affordable energy — but through our programs and efforts to help people who need it most. We know the way we serve and engage with our customers will look different in these uncertain times but we remain committed to helping the community.
  
Arizona’s fight against COVID-19 is drawing collaboration and participation from every sector, and Arizona Public Service is joining other companies in the team effort to support customers and communities.
When the market goes live in 2021, SPP will centrally dispatch energy from market participants to meet demand throughout the region every five minutes.
CPS Energy continues efforts to support educational initiatives and provide community resources on energy related topics. With schools closed, the increased demand for remote education is upon us and CPS Energy is proud to offer free educational resources for students and their caregivers to use at home.
To support our region during this pandemic, El Paso Electric announces a $30,000 donation to the COVID-19 response funds created by the El Paso Community Foundation, the Paso Del Norte Community Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico. Each foundation will receive $10,000.
Lincoln Electric System continues to operate under its Continuity of Operations Plan developed to cover a variety of emergencies, including pandemics. The community-owned electric utility is continuing normal system operation and has implemented appropriate measures to limit spread of the novel coronavirus.
With Nebraskans dealing with challenging times due to the COVID-19 outbreak, phone scammers are still on the prowl according to Nebraska Public Power District.
Emergency assistance will be distributed to partner organizations on the frontlines supporting the most vulnerable in our communities. 
Omaha Public Power District distributed nearly $34 million for in-lieu-of-tax payments to 11 southeast Nebraska counties. That’s up slightly from nearly $33.9 million distributed last year.
Responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, PacifiCorp will waive campground reservation cancellation fees until April 30 as long as cancellations are made at least eight days before the planned arrival date.
Water is critical to public health, our quality of life, the desert environment and our economy. That is why we are all doing our part to ensure you always have water at your tap, even during times of concern.
Donations totaling $200,000 for Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming coronavirus relief and recovery efforts are being made by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association on behalf of its 46 member distribution cooperatives, public power districts and non-utility members.
United Power is dedicated to keeping our members’ lights on. That wouldn’t be possible without the help of our skilled linemen, who work each day behind the scenes to improve our system and prevent outages before they happen. On April 18th, we will join in celebrating National Lineman Appreciation Day, honoring the hard work, innovation and dedication of America’s electrical lineworkers.
Working from home has become a new reality for many people as companies attempt to limit the spread of the contagious coronavirus.
 
Pete Gardner has been named Xcel Energy’s Chief Nuclear Officer, effective immediately. He succeeds Tim O’Connor who has held the role since 2013 and has been promoted to Chief Generating Officer of Xcel Energy.
   
Wanzek Construction, Inc
   
White Paper
  
A team has developed a less expensive water electrolysis system that works under alkaline conditions but still produces hydrogen at comparable rates to the currently used system that works under acidic conditions and requires precious metals. This advance brings down the cost of water splitting technology, offering a more viable way to store energy from solar and wind power in the form of hydrogen fuel.