Power Lines Blog

How to Avoid Being the Horse that “Shows” in a Three Horse Race

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One of public power’s long-standing challenges is to make our governing bodies understand that the salaries paid to “enterprise” employees need to be competitive with those offered by other employers in the field. For these specialized skill sets and responsibilities, standard city government pay scales often just will not cut it. The old adage “you get what you pay for” will increasingly apply in our industry as our boomers retire and must be replaced.

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Public Power Road Show: Sue Kelly’s World Tour Brings APPA Home

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Public Utilities Fortnightly interviewed Sue Kelly as she wound up her first year as president and CEO of the American Public Power Association. During the past year, Kelly has embarked on what she calls her “World Tour,” going everywhere from Wisconsin, to South Carolina, to Georgia, Texas, Utah, and you-name-it. Kelly also talks about RTOs, capacity markets, and helping the American public understand public power.

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Making Forward Progress on 111(d)

On Dec. 1, APPA filed our comments with the Environmental Protection Agency on its proposal to limit CO2 emissions from existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. APPA staff labored long and mightily to produce these comments, and I am justly proud of the cross-departmental team we assembled to do this work.

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December in the West

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I have spent much of the last two weeks visiting APPA members in the West. I spoke at the Midwest Electric Consumers Association Annual Meeting in Denver, the Public Power Council Annual Meeting in Portland, and, most recently, the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City. Spending time with our members in the West reminds me just how the interests and concerns of our members vary around the country.

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Five Takeaways from APPA’s Grid Security Summit

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If you’ve scanned the news lately, you’ve probably seen that cybersecurity is a hot topic — right up there with Ebola, immigration, and Taylor Swift’s dissing of Spotify. From financial institutions and credit card companies to retail outlets and the U.S. postal service, new threats — and safeguards — are evolving every day.

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Autumn Leaves and Nuclear Power in SEC Country

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This past week, I visited Georgia to attend the Mayors’ Summit put on by the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG). MEAG is a joint action agency serving 49 Georgia cities and towns across the state, from the suburbs of Atlanta to rural communities. MEAG owns substantial shares in a number of electric generation facilities, and is a co-owner (along with Georgia Power and the Georgia rural electric co-ops) of the high voltage transmission system that serves the state.

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Firehouse Chili and Energy Efficiency in Ohio

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This week I traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to speak at American Municipal Power’s Annual Conference. AMP is a large joint action agency, serving public power distribution utilities (and a number of joint action agencies) in 7 states. AMP is very forward thinking—they’re developing a diversified portfolio of power supply resources (natural gas, coal, new run-of-the-river hydro, wind and distribution level solar), and running an innovative energy efficiency program.

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Visiting Watts Bar Unit 2 — America’s First New Nuclear Generation of the 21st Century

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Nuclear power is a complex undertaking, and an important one. If we are truly serious about reducing the carbon footprint of our industry, it needs to be part of our power supply strategy. And TVA, under CEO Bill Johnson’s leadership, is working hard to diversify the power supply of the Tennessee Valley and reduce its environmental impact, while keeping costs reasonable for customers in the Valley. That is no small task, but the TVA employees I met are going “all in” to make it happen.

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Upping Public Power’s Mutual Aid Game

Mutual aid is neighbors helping neighbors restore power as quickly and safely as possible in the aftermath of a disaster. Public power utilities have strong emergency response processes, with coordination among federal, state, and private-sector first responders. In October 2012, when Superstorm Sandy caused widespread damage, public power’s response was immediate and far-reaching.

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Cultivating Our Solar Gardens

WPPI has a new pilot project to develop community solar gardens — good for the residential customers who subscribe to a panel, since they do not have the hassle of having solar panels installed on their own house, but get the benefit of locally-produced solar power—and good for the utilities, since they can operate and maintain the garden, thus better managing the reliability and rate impacts of the facility.

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