PUC Chairman Hanson delivers address at national electric roundtable

Gary Hanson, chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, was a speaker and panelist at the national Roundtable on Energy Resource Portfolios for the Electric Power Industry in Arlington, Va., earlier this month. At the invitation-only event industry leaders examined the future of the electric power industry, the growing demand for diverse energy portfolios and challenges, and how to solve those challenges.

A primary concern at the roundtable was how the electric power industry can ensure reliable, affordable, clean and safe energy while increasing renewable energy and distributed generation. Hanson presented a provocative formula of 15 ingredients necessary to accomplish a national energy policy.

“Facts must be allowed to overwhelm emotion, special interests and partisanship at both ends of the opinion spectrum,” Hanson explained upon presenting the formula. “This is a technically complicated task, yet we are a nation of sound bites, and reaching decisions require sincere dialogue, yet we are a nation of opposing sides,” he said.

Hanson also discussed how environmental regulations and renewable incentives impact portfolio decisions and public policy goals.

“The EPA’s proposed rule to cut carbon emissions is a tremendous challenge for the energy industry. The EPA has a responsibility to safeguard our waterways and air; however, some of the EPA’s recent proposed regulations provide insignificant environmental value but significantly increase costs to every citizen and business in the country,” he stated. “Additionally, some of the regulations create a Catch-22 that makes the producer violate one regulation by complying with another.”

The U.S. Department of Energy along with the American Public Power Association, the Edison Electric Institute and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association hosted the event Oct. 16-17.

Hanson is in his second term on the Public Utilities Commission. He serves on the electricity committee of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and has held leadership positions in the Organization of MISO States and the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative.

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New handbook from APPA aims to reinforce mutual aid network

By Jeannine Anderson, APPA; Originally appeared in the October 6 Public Power Daily

The American Public Power Association has developed a new handbook, called the Public Power Mutual Aid Playbook, to help municipal utilities in their efforts to prepare for, and recover from, severe storms and other disasters.

“Mutual aid represents the essence of public power — neighbors helping neighbors restore power as quickly and safely as possible in the aftermath of a disaster,” said APPA President and CEO Sue Kelly in a letter to APPA members. “We hope this playbook will bolster an already strong national network of mutual aid participants that stand ready to assist their fellow public power utilities.”

mutual aid 2Kelly encouraged utilities to review the playbook and keep it handy, and urged utilities that are not already part of APPA’s Mutual Aid Network to join by sending an email to APPA at MutualAid@PublicPower.org or by visiting www.publicpower.org/MutualAid.

The playbook is designed to help:

  • Improve communication among utilities and with network coordinators.
  • Ensure expeditious and organized response to requests for assistance.
  • Streamline support (e.g., housing, fuel, etc.) from the federal government in the event of a large-scale event.

“Severe storms are becoming more frequent, and the effect they have on our way of life is immense,” said Gary Nieborsky, vice chair of the APPA Mutual Aid Working Group and distribution engineering and operations manager of Central Lincoln People’s Utility District in Newport, Oregon. The playbook “enables utilities to make the best use of available resources to safely and efficiently respond to large-scale events,” he said.

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South Dakota statehood celebration scheduled for November 1

A special event at the State Capitol to celebrate South Dakota’s 125th anniversary of statehood will feature a performance by the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra.

The event will also include the rededication and lighting ceremony for the newly restored stained glass in the Capitol. The project to restore the historic stained glass skylights that began last year is expected to be completed in September when the final restored panels will return to the Capitol.

The statehood celebration event will take place at 7 p.m. CDT on Saturday, Nov. 1.

The event will be open and free to the public. General admission seating will be available with a ticketed reservation. The details and availability date for reserving seating tickets will be made available in the future. Standing room only will be available on the marble grand staircase and in the balconies above the rotunda floor.

Other Events on Nov 1:

First Lady Inaugural Gown Exhibit Rededication
A rededication of the newly refurbished First Ladies Inaugural Gown exhibit is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on the first floor. The event is free and open to the public.

Trail of Governors Statues Unveiling
The unveiling of the three latest statues of former governors by the Trail of Governors is scheduled for 1 p.m. in the rotunda. The event is free and open to the public.

Quilting Demonstration
The Stately Stitchers quilting club are hosting a quilting demonstration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lutheran Memorial Church.

The public is invited to help make quilted ornaments which will be used to decorate one of the Capitol Christmas Trees later that month. The theme of the Capital Christmas Trees is 125 Years of Christmas in South Dakota.

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Accounting & Finance webinar: Performing a Utility Financial Check-up

American Public Power Association (APPA) is offering an accounting and finance-themed webinar on Thursday, October 16. The webinar, titled Performing a Utility Financial Check-Up, is one of a webinar series but can be taken on its own. It will feature Dawn Lund, VicePresident of Utility Financial Solutions in Holland, Michigan, and is scheduled to begin at 2pm EST.

From the description: A utility’s policies can help ensure its current and future financial stability by maintaining key financial targets and ensuring funds exist to ensure reliable service to customers. In this webinar, participants will learn guidelines, methods and tools used by industry professionals to assess a utility’s financial health. The speaker will also discuss topics such as financial targets, debt and purchasing policies, and rate methods used by utilities across the country.

Topics will include:

  • How to monitor the utility’s financial health
  • Identifying rate structure risk and methods to minimize and control risk
  • Proper capital planning
  • Monitoring, exposure and methods to control the utility’s revenue stability
  • Timing of rate structure reviews
  • Communicating utility financial performance and rate changes to policymakers and customers

Cost is $89 for APPA members and $179 for non-members. Heartland customers qualify for the discounted rate. To learn more or register, click HERE.

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Heartland to celebrate Public Power Week October 5-11

Heartland is celebrating Public Power Week next week along with more than 2,000 other community-owned, not-for-profit electric utilities that collectively provide electricity to 47 million Americans.

“Public Power Week celebrates our customers’ reliable, affordable electricity and service,” said Heartland CEO Russell Olson. “Public power puts the consumer first. Public Power Week gives us the chance to emphasize the advantages of locally grown, locally owned power.”

In recognition of Public Power Week, Heartland plans to host electric utility officials from the city of Madison and other customer communities for lunch tomorrow at our headquarters. As a token of appreciation, Heartland will be giving away electric grills to two customer utilities for their use.

Public Power Week is an annual national event coordinated by the American Public Power Association in Washington, D.C. The association represents not-for-profit, community-owned electric utilities that power homes, businesses and streets in nearly 2,000 towns and cities, serving 47 million Americans. With no divided loyalties, these utilities are focused on a single mission — providing reliable electricity at a reasonable price, while protecting the environment. More at www.PublicPower.org.