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APPA offers webinar series on new OSHA rules

Starting Tuesday, Sept. 17, The American Public Power Association (APPA) Academy is offering a series of four webinars designed to provide an overview of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) revised rules for electric generation, transmission and distribution. This series will provide an overview of the changes outlined in both §1910.269 and §1926 Subpart V, as well as how are these requirements are expected to impact utilities.

All webinars take place from 1 – 2:30 p.m. Central. The series includes the following four webinars, which can be taken individually or as a series for a discounted rate:

Host Employer/Contractor Information Transfer and General Training, September 17

  • Host employers (e.g., utilities) and contract employers must exchange information regarding known hazards, as well as the conditions, characteristics, design and operation of the host employer’s system.  Work rules and procedures must be coordinated between the host employer and contract employer, and must be designed to protect all employees.
  • Host employers must also provide employees with all known information relating to the determination of existing characteristics and conditions. Compliance date for these elements of the new rule was July 10, 2014, but OSHA has established a temporary enforcement policy for these rules until October 31, 2014.
  • General Training: There are several updates to general training standards. Training is to be determined based on hazard assessments and risk potential to the worker for the hazards involved. Qualified workers must be trained to recognize and control or avoid electrical hazards at the worksite.

Fall Protection, October 30

  • Summary of Fall Protection Rule: The revised rule requires that employers ensure that all employees (both unqualified and qualified employees) working at a height of more than 1.2 meters (4 feet) above a lower surface use fall protection equipment. These rules are objective based, and allow each utility to determine how to protect employees based on the hazards present in the workplace.
    • Hazards that must be assessed and mitigated by the employer include when employees are climbing or changing location on poles, towers or similar structures.  The provision contains limited exemptions for the use of fall protection while climbing or changing locations and includes:
      • When the use of such equipment is infeasible; and
      • When using the equipment creates a greater hazard than when climbing or changing locations without it.
  • The final rule also covers revised requirements that employees are protected from falls when working from aerial lifts. The compliance date for this element of the rule is April 1, 2015.
  • In addition to a review of this portion of the rule, this webinar will also cover the experiences some utilities have had with implementing these rules, such as:
    • Implementation and budgeting issues;
    • Costs;
    • Different brands of equipment; and
    • How to sell the new requirements to employees

Arc Protection and Flame-Resistant Clothing, November 10

In order to provide protection from electric arcs, employers must assess the workplace to identify employees who are exposed to hazards from flames or electric arcs, and make reasonable estimates of the employees’ exposure to incident heat energy.

This webinar will cover how employers are to ensure (under certain conditions) that employees wear a flame-resistant outer layer of clothing that will provide protection based upon the assessments completed by the employer.

Overall, employers must ensure that employees who are exposed to hazards from electric arcs wear protective clothing and other protective equipment with an arc rating that is greater than or equal to the estimated heat energy. The revised rule requires that employers complete an analysis of the workplace by January 1, 2015, that includes an estimate of the incident heat energy of any potential electric-arc hazards to which employees could be exposed. The compliance date for the additional elements of the provision is April 1, 2015.

Minimum Approach Distance, December 16

  • A comparison of the old and new Minimum Approach Distance (MAD) values to see how much the minimum approach distances have changed for various voltage levels;
  • A review of when MADs have to be calculated and when table values can be used;
  • A discussion of how to calculate MADs based on “T” which is the maximum anticipated per-unit transient overvoltage factor (also sometimes referred to as a switching surge factor);
  • A working knowledge of Appendix B to OSHA §1910.269 which is titled, “Working on Exposed Energized Parts”;
  • An understanding of the term “Reach” and the phrase, “Reasonably Likely Movements of Employee”;
  • An understanding of the terms “Phase-to-Ground Exposure” and “Phase-to-Phase Exposure”;
  • What Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required to go inside the MAD and at what position the employee can put on and remove the PPE; and
  • The timeline that OSHA has proposed to require the use of the new MAD values

Who should attend:

  • Power lineman/superintendents
  • Utility directors
  • Crew foremen
  • Engineers
  • Technicians
  • Safety personnel
  • Tree trimmers
  • Contractors
  • Others working in the electric utility industry

The registration fee for individual webinars is $89 for APPA members and $179 for nonmembers. Purchase the entire 4-part webinar series and get one webinar free: $267 for APPA members and $537 for nonmembers.

Click HERE for more information or to register.

2014 Special Olympics donation

Heartland donates to Special Olympics of SD

Special Olympics South Dakota hopes to bring together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to train and compete on the same team with the construction of the first-ever Unify Center.  Heartland recently made a $2,000 dontation towards the construction of the facility, which will be built in Sioux Falls, SD.

“Heartland’s donation is going to help make a positive impact for those with disabilities in South Dakota for years to come,” said Special Olympics SD President and CEO Darryl Nordquist.

According to Nordquist, the Unify Center will be key in growing Special Olympics across the state of South Dakota, including increasing the number of participants both with and without disabilities.

“The Unify Center will impact the athletes by providing more opportunity to improve confidence and self-esteem as well as greater independence through social integration and life skills training,” Nordquist said.  “It will impact our community by building connections to Special Olympics families, increasing awareness of Special Olympics’ mission beyond sports, and increasing opportunities for family time, shared activities and community involvement.  It also creates the potential for statewide tournaments and events that could bring revenue to the area.  Building unity through the Unify Center is a way of making Special Olympics relevant to everyone.”

Specifically, the building will facilitate the organization’s programs focused on health, wellness and education, including the Healthy Athletes Initiative.

“The Healthy Athletes program promotes health education to everyone involved with Special Olympics, including participants, volunteers, families and staff, and provides free health screenings at our state events,” said Nordquist. “It focuses on seven disciplines, including Fit Feet, FUNFitness, Healthy Hearing, Health Promotion, Opening Eyes(r), Special Smiles(r) and MedFest.”

Nordquist hopes the Unify Center will one-day house the organization’s first MedFest, which will provide free physicals to participants.  The center will also facilitate growth of Project Unify, the namesake of the facility.

“Unified sports brings together athletes with and without disabilities to be teamates, and educates those without about the importance of inclusion and acceptance for those with disabilities,” said Nordquist.  “Project Unify focuses on education in our schools to help students become agents of change for those with intellectual disabilities.  We were in 68 schools last year for the ‘Spread the Word to End the Word’ campaign, which discourages the use of the ‘R’ word.”

Artist's rendering of the Unify Center, courtesy SOSD.

Artist’s rendering of the Unify Center, courtesy SOSD.

The Unify Center will be a 16,000 square-foot facility and will include athletic training areas, open space and a commons area.  It will feature handicap-accessible locker rooms, showers and facilities as well as a kitchen and concessions area.  The building will be multi-purpose, allowing for everything from training to social activities.

Special Olympics is founded on the belief that people with intellectual disabilities can, with proper instruction and encouragement, learn, enjoy and benefit from participation in individual and team sports.  Special Olympics SD provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults from across the state with intellectual disabilities.  The number of participants in South Dakota has grown from 1,400 to over 2,000 in the past four years and includes people ages eight to 82.  For more information on the organization or the Unify Center, visit www.sosd.org.

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Heartland faces challenges from EPA

By Chuck Clement, Staff Reporter, Madison Daily Leader
The following article appeared on the front page of the August 29, 2014 issue of the Madison Daily Leader:

Heartland faces challenges from EPA

Emissions goals pose challenges; electric rate increases likely

The provider of about half of the electricity used by Madison’s electric utility customers has concerns about reaching the carbon-dioxide emissions reductions proposed by the EPA earlier this summer.

John Knofczynski, engineering manager at Heartland Consumers Power District, offered a presentation on Thursday to fellow members of the municipal Electric Advisory Committee that outlined the challenges one of Madison’s electricity suppliers faces if the current federal proposals remain the same.

Knofczynski warned that the current options for meeting a 35-percent reduction of South Dakota’s carbon dioxide emissions would mean a major restructuring of HCPD’s electricity supply and most likely higher costs to consumers.

Knofczynski said the EPA had an overall goal to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions across the nation by 30 percent less than 2012 levels. The EPA wants to reach that goal by 2030, but federal officials also have interim target levels that they want the states to reach by 2020.

The EPA has proposed that the states use four building blocks in the reduction plans: heat-rate improvements at existing power plants; substituting coal-based electricity with natural gas combined-cycle electricity generation; substituting renewable electricity generation; and demand-side (consumer) energy efficiency measures.

Knofczynski said that South Dakota only has one natural gas generation plant currently available, the Deer Creek Station owned by Basin Electric Power Cooperative. He said the Deer Creek Station would need to operate at more than a 70-percent capacity factor to offset generation losses from the coal-fired Big Stone Power Plant.

He also said under current EPA policies, electricity providers will not receive any credit for supporting renewable energy production that was active before the carbon-dioxide reduction policies go into effect.

Knofczynski told the advisory committee members that the EPA’s building blocks offered little in practical solutions to South Dakota consumers.

In his presentation, Knofczynski listed Heartland’s three primary electric power resources:

  • Whelan Energy Center Unit 2 near Hastings, Neb., which has a 225-megawatt (MW) output from its coal-fired generation plant. HCPD has 35-percent ownership equaling 82 MW; however EPA officials gave Nebraska a 26-percent reduction target.
  • Laramie River Station near Wheatland, Wyo., a three-unit, 1,710-MW coal-fired plant in which HCPD has a 3-percent share equaling 51 MW. Wyoming has a 19-percent reduction target, but Laramie Station is also currently managing a regional haze mandate made by federal officials.
  • Wessington Springs Wind Energy Center in South Dakota, consisting of 34 wind turbines providing 51 MW in total capacity. Heartland has purchased the full output from the wind farm since it went into service in February 2009.

Persons can send public comments by mail, e-mail or fax with the deadline on Oct. 16. All comments need to include the federal government’s docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602 in the message’s subject line.

The comments are mailed to Environmental Protection Agency; EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), Mailcode 28221T, Attn. Docket ID OAR-2013-0602; 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20460.

Persons can e-mail comments to A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov or fax them to 202-566-9744.

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Gov. Daugaard’s Workforce Summit report released

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard is releasing the workforce summit report today as he travels around the state to share the findings.

The Governor is hosting six meetings today and tomorrow to share the results, outline the opportunity for cross-sector collaboration and provide an update of new state government strategies.

“Over 1,000 people provided input for this report. We heard from educators, community leaders, businesses and elected officials from all across the state,” said Gov. Daugaard. “We’ve been actively engaged in workforce efforts over the past few years. By exploring the new tools and strategies laid out in the report, we can improve those efforts at the state and local levels.”

Public meetings are scheduled for:

Tuesday, Sept. 2

  • 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. MDT at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn in Rapid City
  • 11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. CDT at the Dakota Event Center in Aberdeen
  • 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. CDT at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown

Wednesday, Sept. 3

  • 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. CDT at the Brookings Days Inn Convention Center
  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CDT at Mitchell Technical Institute
  • 3 – 4 p.m. CDT at the Sioux Falls Convention Center

The final report and previous Workforce Summit resources, videos and presentations are available at www.southdakotawins.com/workforcesummits.

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Construction guidebook points way to efficient new buildings

Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) recently discussed the New Building Institute’s New Construction Guide in their August Energy Services Bulletin. The guide serves as a reference for building design and construction professionals to define high performance in building envelope, lighting, HVAC power systems and controls. It offers a whole-building approach to achieving deep energy efficiencies in new building projects.

Click HERE for the complete story.