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We kicked off the 117th Fall Convention last week, virtually! So far, the speakers have provided political, economic, social and industry clarity and analysis to help us all continue Powering Through Disruption. They have been absolutely outstanding!

Keynote Dan Bartlett, Former Counselor to President George W. Bush and current EVP of Corporate Affairs for Walmart, gave a political insider’s perspective on the impacts of what might happen during and after this election year. Anirban Basu, Chairman & CEO, Sage Policy Group, shared leading indicators of the economy’s bounce back from COVID-19 and how electric utilities can position the energy industry for success in these uncertain times. Our first Tuesday closed out with the senior leaders from a few of our Architecture/Engineering member companies sharing the challenges of the current market future trends, and impactful technology.  Our panelists included Jim Doull, Executive Vice President, Director, Global Conventional Generation, Black & Veatch; Holger Peller, Executive Vice President of Power Delivery, POWER Engineers, Inc.;  Jon Gribble, Executive Vice President, Kiewit Engineering Group and Aaron Frahm, Director of Engineering and Technology, Mastec Power Corp. Moderator Elaina Ball, Senior Vice President and Interim Chief Operating Officer, El Paso Electric, led a discussion detailing how contractors are dealing with construction delays, workforce strategies and the economic market and lessons learned from client projects this year.

Our second Tuesday started with the popular CEO and Presidents Panel.  Our Panelists included Paula Gold-Williams, President & CEO, CPS Energy; Duane Highley, CEO, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association; Alice Jackson, President, Xcel Energy – Colorado; and Mike Kotara, President, Engineering Group, Zachry Group. Paul Barham, 2020-2021 RMEL President & Sr. VP of Energy Delivery Services, CPS Energy, moderated this discussion, fielding audience questions on topics ranging from how their organizations are keeping the lights on through crisis, disruption and social unrest, technology and innovation, and how they are planning for the future.  We closed out the day with Kathleen Nalty, President, Kathleen Nalty Consulting, LLC.  She lead an interactive session during which attendees engaged in a competitive game and visualization exercise, as well as created their own personal action plans to interrupt unconscious bias.

Of course, we had a little business to tend to.  We also had our first-ever "virtual” passing of the gavel from 2019-2020 RMEL President Joel Bladow, Sr. VP, Transmission, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, to 2020-2021 RMEL President Paul Barham.  Joel has done an incredible job leading us through 2020, and I have much appreciated the leadership, guidance and support he has provided the RMEL team throughout these unprecedented challenges.  Thank you, Joel!  Paul has been very active and in constant communication with Joel and myself as he prepares to take on this role in still very uncertain times.  I am looking forward to working closely with Paul and the entire RMEL Board of Directors this coming year and am thankful to all for being so active and taking the success of all RMEL members to heart. You can be confident that the RMEL Board of Directors has your back! Congratulations to Paul, and we look forward to navigating the future of the Association and the electric energy industry with you at the helm!

We’ve got more Fall Convention presentations coming up next week, plus other RMEL Section events throughout the next few months. We’ll be adding more to this list, so keep an eye on the RMEL event calendar!

Fall Convention
September 29th Educational Sessions – Day 3 Preview

For the first time in history, there are five generations working side by side. Meagan Johnson, Generational Expert, Speaker and Author, will outline the dominant generational forces in the workplace and how each generation's "signpost" drives motivation, influences company loyalty, builds morale, delivery of customer service and communication between managers, employees and coworkers.

Thomas Casey, Managing Principal, Discussion Partner Collaborative LLC, will share the research associated with the book, Leadership Development-The Next Curve To Flatten, and bring forward suggestions as to how RMEL leaders should approach the challenges of 2020 and beyond.

The Obama administration's Clean Power Plan originally targeted a 32% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels. Now much more aggressive 2050 decarbonization targets for the power sector are being introduced by investor owned utilities, states, municipalities, politicians and regulators. Grant Grothen, Principal, Burns & McDonnell, will discuss Burns & McDonnell’s model of what the decarbonization path would look like for various aggressive reduction targets and impact to the current generation fleet.  

MORE……

RMEL Educational Programing

September 24th
Webinar/Roundtable: The Role of Hydrogen in Future Energy Storage Systems

Hydrogen is a flexible energy carrier that could enable the integration of disparate energy systems, including electricity, heating, and industrial sectors, to improve economic efficiency, reliability, flexibility, environmental performance, and resilience. Indeed, hydrogen can be produced from a variety of sources and is widely used in a variety of industrial and chemical processes. Josh Eichman, Sr. Research Engineer, NREL, & Omar José Guerra Fernández, Research Engineer, NREL, will explore the role of hydrogen in high or ultra-high renewable energy systems.

October 8th
Market Driven Generation Flexibility

Steve Mills, Vice President, Energy Supply Operations, Xcel Energy will cover the impact from the system dispatch demand, the various philosophical changes in asset focus and the issues that have surfaced from the exponential increase in renewables.

October 13th
Situational Awareness for Wildfire Risk Management

Anthony D. Palizzi, Regional Manager Power, Americas, Fugro USA Land Inc., will demonstrate how multiple utilities are implementing the latest in VWAM solutions to advance situational awareness and realize the benefits in decrease operations costs, decrease risks, increase reliability, increase asset life and increase customers satisfaction. 

November 5th
RMEL Virtual November Safety Roundtable

Roundtables offer a unique forum for peer-to-peer sharing of experiences, critical issues and expertise. The roundtable is a discussion group, open only to RMEL members. Discussion is based on topics brought by attendees.

We sincerely appreciate the way that RMEL members are gathering together in these various virtual settings. We can hardly wait to see everyone in person again, but we are enjoying connecting however we can in the meantime! I look forward to working with the RMEL Board of Directors and RMEL Section Committees to continue adding to our offerings for the Fall and into 2021, and we hope to see you virtually soon!

Stay SAFE!

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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.

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Industry Information
  
The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and Southwest Power Pool (SPP) announced a year-long transmission study to address generation interconnection challenges, looking to "identify comprehensive, cost effective and efficient upgrades" along the areas where the regional grids connect.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee and Commissioner Richard Glick reached a rare agreement, passing an order 2-1 that would lower the barriers to distributed energy resources' (DER) participation in wholesale markets.
  
The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) has announced the final step in a years-long process to open its wholesale energy markets to energy storage resources (ESRs), including pumped storage hydropower.
  
Hawaiian Electric has submitted eight contracts for new grid-scale renewable energy and storage projects on O‘ahu and Maui to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for review and approval.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of 12 projects to receive approximately $34 million in federal funding under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA), Small-Scale Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Systems and Hybrid Electrolyzer Technology Development.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette joined Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski in announcing the reestablishment of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Arctic Energy Office (AEO), which will be located on the campus of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
  
This week, Houston-based independent power producer Broad Reach Power announced that it has begun construction on two 100-MW/100-MWh greenfield battery storage projects.
  
Atlantic City Electric, in a filing submitted recently to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), outlined its plans to build a Smart Energy Network across the company's entire service area, including installing smart meters and upgrading the local energy grid with specialized networking equipment.
   
Forbes Bros LTD.
   
Member Announcements
  
Construction began on the Pflugerville Solar Project, a utility-scale solar project with 144 megawatts of capacity, approved by the Austin City Council in 2018.
The Basin Electric board of directors approved the 2021-2030 long-range engineering plan, as presented by Tom Christensen, Basin Electric senior vice president of Transmission, Engineering and Construction, during the September meeting held at East River Electric Power Cooperative headquarters in Madison, South Dakota.
CPS Energy now gives customers more power with new outage and billing alert notifications. Customers can now sign up to receive alerts to inform them of important billing, payment, and outage information. 
  
El Paso Electric (EPE) released its 2019 Corporate Sustainability Report, an annual publication that captures the Company’s recent energy and environmental accomplishments. 
  
Evergy, Inc. announced that Terry Bassham has informed the Board of Directors (the “Board”) of his decision to retire as President, Chief Executive Officer and a Director of Evergy. To ensure a smooth transition, Bassham will continue to serve as Director, President and Chief Executive Officer of Evergy until his successor is appointed.
As of Sept. 1, 2020, Lincoln Electric System is offering rebates to residential customers purchasing or leasing a new electric vehicle for the first time.
Nebraska Public Power District has contracted Forbes Brothers Timberline Construction Inc., of Rapid City, S.D. to refurbish a 115-kV transmission line in Southwest Nebraska.
NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, highlighted a suite of clean energy storage developments in the state that could nearly double the total installed capacity of battery storage available in the U.S. today.
The future is bright, as Omaha Public Power District takes a big step in its Power with Purpose (PwP) project. PwP will add 400 to 600 megawatts (MW) of accredited utility-scale solar generation, as well as up to 600 MW of accredited modernized natural gas backup generation, to OPPD’s energy portfolio.
In response to COVID-19, SRP is now offering a new rebate to help commercial customers reduce airborne viruses. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) is a disinfection method that uses short-wavelength ultraviolet light to kill or inactivate microorganisms including common coronaviruses.
In an effort to help alleviate conditions that recently led to an historic second call for water use restrictions on the Yampa River, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and the Colorado River District announced a joint effort to release up to 1,500 acre-feet of water from Elkhead Reservoir to support irrigators and endangered habitat.
 
Crews completed turbine construction and started system testing at the Oso Grande Wind Project, which is expected to begin producing clean energy for Tucson Electric Power (TEP) customers before the end of the year.
   
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