Power Lines Blog

Five Myths About Pay That Are Killing Your Utility

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Public power decision makers are constantly evaluating the costs and benefits of capital investments and equipment. However, hiring the right drivers is often based on emotion or politics. Utilities that take a logical, measured approach to hiring and pay experience better performance. It isn’t just about money — it’s really about the allocation of limited resources.

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Protecting The Code: A Decade of Leadership in Safety

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In 2006, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers asked that I throw my hat into the ring to become chair of the National Electrical Safety Code. I was flattered to be considered for this lofty position to chair both the main and executive committees of “The Code,” but I wondered how I could ever handle chairing this utility-focused, industry consensus code for two full five-year cycles. Ten years as chair seemed at the time to be more of a prison sentence than an opportunity. However, I jumped in willingly, because they believed in me.

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Grid Security Funding, Electric Vehicles MOU

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There were two major pieces of news in July involving the American Public Power Association and the Department of Energy. The DOE said it will provide APPA with funding for member utility physical and cyber security efforts. Separately, the association and the DOE signed a memorandum of understanding related to electric vehicle adoption and charging infrastructure construction.

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Capacity Markets Don’t Perform, Data Fails to Inform

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Mandatory electricity capacity “markets” operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Midwest have cost electricity consumers more than $100 billion in less than ten years. These are NOT free markets; electric utilities and other load-serving entities in these regions must participate.

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Preparing Students for Our Nation’s Changing Energy Portfolio

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While many programs within the SunShot Initiative drive innovations in solar technologies, one program prepares the next generation of utility professionals to make solar energy work together with the rest of the power grid. The utility sector is going through a rapid transformation as more renewables come online and more Americans choose to go solar. Adding large quantities of distributed energy onto the grid requires the workforce to acquire new knowledge and skills, which SunShot is enabling.

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Watch Out — New OSHA Rule on Injury and Illness Reporting

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On May 12, OSHA released its final rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses. This final rule becomes effective on August 10, 2016 — so start preparing now. Utilities may need to make changes to long-standing practices around post-accident drug testing and safety incentives. Only discipline employees when they break a “legitimate” workplace safety or health rule.

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Key Challenges for Public Power

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The power of community is vital to address the challenges keeping public power leaders up at night, and the American Public Power Association is working to help its members meet those challenges, said Sue Kelly, President and CEO of APPA, in her annual “state of the public power industry” address at the 2016 APPA National Conference in Phoenix, Ariz.

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Smart Ways to Protect Critical Utility Infrastructure

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Utilities have deployed physical access control systems, electronic access control systems, cameras, security locks, fences, and other means to comply with CIP Standards 006-3c and 006-5. Some utilities have successfully replaced mechanical master key systems with an intelligent key system. Such a system provides controlled access, electronic scheduling, and audit accountability. Intelligent keys can provide immediate visual analytics to identify problem areas.

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