Power Lines Blog

Public Power Leaders “Find a Way”: APPA 2014 National Conference Recap

National-Conference-6-23

The American Public Power Association held its 2014 National Conference in Denver from June 13-18. Before it gets too far into the rearview mirror I wanted to say what a great experience it was.

We started on June 13 with our Day of Giving, with around 140 APPA and member employees (and even some family members!) volunteering for flood clean up in Lyons, CO and work at a homeless shelter in Denver. The Day of Giving has been a feature of our national conference since 2008, when we met in New Orleans and volunteered in St. Bernard Parish to help the area recover from Hurricane Katrina. It really exemplifies what public power is all about—service to the community.

Over the weekend of June 14-15, we held preconference seminars and our executive committee and board meetings; considered policy resolutions; and held a number of subject matter meetings, including a very well attended session with Gerry Cauley, CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, and Roy Thilly, member of the NERC board of trustees. We finished up the weekend with our opening reception Sunday night, kicking off the conference proper.

On Monday and Tuesday, we held both general and breakout sessions. We heard expert speakers discuss cybersecurity, the political climate, and the economic outlook. We had a general session panel on distributed generation (concentrating on solar PV) with three public power system CEOs and Julia Hamm, CEO of the Solar Electric Power Association. Breakouts covered a great variety of topics. Despite the fabulous weather outside (sunny, low humidity—so unlike DC!) the sessions were all well attended. The breakout on EPA’s proposed new CO2 regulations was standing room only, and went on well past its scheduled end time, with people skipping lunch to stay and participate. The breakout session on mandatory capacity market concerns also generated considerable discussion.

Tuesday afternoon closed with our annual business meeting, where the membership elects new board leadership and formally passes new APPA policy resolutions. We had an excellent turnout for this meeting, which is a tribute to our members and their understanding that membership organizations like APPA require active participation by their members to stay vital.

During the conference we also honored our award winners — 16 individuals and 9 utilities, recognized for service to APPA and the public power industry. A full list of award winners is on our website along with a video tribute. William M. Carroll, general manager of the Greeneville Light and Power System in Tennessee, received APPA’s Alex Radin Distinguished Service Award, the highest award granted by APPA and is bestowed in recognition of exceptional leadership and dedication to public power. Congratulations to all the winners — we applaud your dedication and service.

Tuesday night we held a concert for the membership with a great Beatles cover band, the Fab Four. “Concert” is really the wrong word—I have never seen such full participation by an audience at an association event!  Most concerts do not have conga lines like this one did with virtually everyone on their feet and singing along, and many dancing in the aisles (including me!). To put it mildly, a good time was had by all.

And we closed with a Wednesday breakfast where the gavel passed from our outgoing board chair, J. Gary Stauffer, to our incoming chair, Paula DiFonzo. Gary was one of the most active and engaged board chairs I have seen — in addition to chairing the CEO Search Committee, he attended virtually every APPA conference and meeting, to show the public power flag. His pictures from the 2014 Lineworkers Rodeo were projected on the screens at breakfast, and really captured the esprit de corps and pride in work that permeates the Rodeo.

We closed with a great inspirational speaker and ESPN Commentator, Merril Hoge, who told us his personal story of how he became a top football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers and beat cancer, all due to his positive attitude, encapsulated in the motto, Find A Way. He sent us all off inspired to find our own way.

This conference is the biggest of the year for APPA, and all our staff have a hand in making it happen. To those who came and worked day and night, and to those who held the fort back in DC while your comrades were on site in Denver, a heartfelt thank you. And to the members who came and participated so actively, thank you—we hope you found it educational, inspiring, and fun. Come again next year and bring your colleagues (and fill out those evaluation forms so we can improve your experience)!

We hope to see you in Minneapolis in June 2015. A bonus — the conference will not fall on Father’s Day!

Sue Kelly

Sue Kelly

President and CEO

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