Power Lines Blog

Back in the Cornhusker State


I traveled to Kearney, Nebraska, for the annual meeting of the Nebraska Public Power District. NPPD’s Pat Pope made a point that I agree with — while traders thrive on market price volatility, which increases their profits, public power is in it for the long run and having a diversified portfolio of generation acts as a physical hedge against future price increases.

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From cyber threats to country music in one week


Our Policymakers Council arrived in DC for more than 100 visits with legislators. As elected and appointed public officials, our policymakers are a vital part of APPA’s grassroots efforts. The DOE has awarded APPA and NRECA up to $15 million to help their utility members improve grid security. And I flew to Nashville to speak at the 50th anniversary celebration and annual meeting of the Tennessee Municipal Electric Power Association.

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Back to the Great Plains


At the 51st annual meeting of the Missouri River Energy Services, Peter Fox Penner, author of Smart Power, talked about public power’s future. MRES provided updates on solar and hydro projects and a program to provide qualified lineworkers to five communities in Minnesota. A veteran leader was honored for 40 years of service to public power.

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Flying over the Rodeo


The beginning of April found me at APPA's Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo. Watching the lineworkers compete in these events gives you a real sense of the pride they take in their work, and the ever-present need to follow proper safety procedures. Lineworkers working in crews have to be able to rely on each other and to put safety first at all times.

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Raising Nebraska

Raising Nebraska

Nebraska is one of the states to which EPA assigned a very stringent CO2 emissions target in the final Clean Power Plan. Utilities and regulators in the state are wrestling with how to comply while maintaining reasonable rates and reliable service. Nebraska has long been a coal-dependent state, which makes sense, given its proximity to western coal deposits. However, it also has a good wind resource.

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In the land of Zion: working together in public power


UMPA is another example of the strength that public power gains from working together to accomplish things that would be very hard for individual member utilities to do on their own. As our industry gets even more complex, and retail electric customers grow to expect an ever expanding array of services, working together through joint action agencies will be even more important to meet customer needs.

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Public Power and the strength of the pack


Joint action agencies provide a great variety of services to their member distribution utilities — from “bread and butter” power supply and wholesale transmission services to value-added services like energy efficiency programs and rate studies. The analogy of the pack is very applicable to the joint action model, and indeed, to public power as a whole. Let’s not forget that we are stronger when we work together.

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In the capital of the public power state


I was back in Nebraska — the only state in the Union that is all public power and cooperative electric utilities. I spoke about the impact of the Clean Power Plan. "...policymakers and regulators back inside the D.C. Beltway just assume that these changes can magically happen, and often do not consider the very practical operational issues that can arise." I also got to hear about the joint training program with the local community college to train generation plant operators.

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From Key West to Monument Valley


The last two weeks have been a blur of events and airports. I have been to meetings in Key West, FL, Denver, CO, Omaha, NE, Bloomington, MN, Austin, TX and Monument Valley, AZ, and traversed the airports in Miami, Chicago (O’Hare!), Charlotte, and Dallas/Fort Worth en route. We were in the last two weeks of the APPA staff movement challenge, and many of my steps came trotting from plane to plane.

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