Public Power Announcements

Nominate Your Colleagues Today, NWPPA Awards Deadlines Approaching

(Jan. 13) Please consider nominating an exceptional colleague for the 2022 Annual Awards and/or for the 2022 Engineering & Operations Awards.

Nominations for the annual awards are due Jan. 31 and nominations for E&O awards are due Jan. 29. The 2022 E&O Utility Safety Contest is also now accepting entries until Feb. 28.

The annual awards include:

  • The Life Member Award, which is presented to policymakers and managers who are retiring from NWPPA member utilities and have made notable contributions to the Association and public power.
  • The John M. George Public Service Award, which is a public service award to recognize policymaking officers of member systems that have demonstrated remarkable service to public power.
  • The Paul J. Raver Community Service Award, which is presented to an electric system or an individual for superior leadership in enhancing the role of the electric systems in achieving community betterment of an individual city, county, local area, state, or the region as a whole.
  • The William “Bill” McCrorie Distinguished Service Award, which is presented to honor individuals who have served the interest of public power and NWPPA in an outstanding manner.
  • The Homer T. Bone Award, which is presented to honor an elected official serving and representing constituents in the NWPPA service territory that have demonstrated sustained and remarkable work on behalf of public power.

The E&O awards include:

  • The Career Commitment to Safety Award, which recognizes an individual who exemplifies outstanding commitment and leadership in safety.
  • The Milton Hunt McGuire Award for Engineering/Operations, which honors an individual who has made a contribution to the industry as a whole.
  • The Safety Heroism Award honors an individual or team that displayed an act of unselfish and voluntary assistance in a situation where life, significant injury, or significant property loss would have been incurred but for the efforts of the individual or team.

For more information about the awards or contest, or to make a nomination, visit https://www.nwppa.org/members/awards-nominations/.


California Utilities Join to Support Regional EV Charging Network

(Jan. 20) During a virtual event, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, the California Electric Transportation Coalition, and California utilities announced a memorandum of understanding to support a California Regional Charging Network. The MOU encourages cooperation and leadership among the California utilities to build out a regional network of chargers in support of California’s ambitious goals to electrify the transportation sectors in California.

The MOU was signed by Northern California Power Agency, an NWPPA associate member, and Sacramento Municipal Utility District, an NWPPA member. Other signees are the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, and Southern California Edison, with additional utilities planning to join soon.

The MOU encourages cooperation and leadership in support of electric cars and trucks traveling along key corridors in California and beyond to reduce pollution, protect public health, advance equity, and support access to electric cars and trucks for all Californians.

“We’re proud to support a partnership that aims to maximize EV infrastructure throughout the state,” said Paul Lau, CEO and general manager of SMUD. “We recognize that achieving the state’s emission reduction goals will take a collective effort and we’re happy to be aligned with utilities and municipalities that support that effort. Creating clean travel corridors throughout the state benefits everyone, especially our disadvantaged residents who disproportionately live near these corridors. We hope that this MOU will support the purchase and use of EVs while bolstering the confidence of drivers who move about our state.”


UEC Implements Advanced Measures for Reliability

(Jan. 19) With over 2,300 miles of energized line across a nearly 2,000-square-mile service territory in Northeast Oregon, Umatilla Electric Cooperative (Hermiston, Ore.) continues to implement advanced measures to provide reliability and resiliency to its 10,700 members.

Those advanced measures? Unmanned aerial systems, also known as drones, that are capable of capturing photos and video at a higher rate and lower cost than historical practices. Working with Eagle-Eye Aerial Solutions of Everson, Washington, UEC now uses drones to help discover deficiencies found along the electrical system during inspections.

Traditionally, inspecting lines has been time-consuming, expensive, and sometimes dangerous. Before the addition of drones, there were times when line crews would need to get a closer look at a possible fault and would need to come close to energized lines to do so.

“Safety is always a priority at UEC; these drones support that priority,” said Kevin Knutz, UEC’s manager of operations.

Inspecting from the ground makes it difficult to get a holistic approach to a pole or attached equipment.

“We truly do have a bird’s-eye view while performing these inspections, allowing us to stay ahead of faults and to identify even the smallest details,” Knutz said.

Whether it’s age, animals, or the often-harsh Northeast Oregon weather, infrastructure on the system can sometimes be tested.

“There may be broken insulators, loose cotter keys or broken ground wires,” Knutz said. “Whatever the fault may be, the earlier we can detect it, the less of an impact our members will have to face.”

In timing the inspections, UEC focuses on the summer months for taking photos and video, and cooler weather is preferred for infrared photography, as it better shows whether a transformer or other device is beginning to overheat and may need replacement.


Fall River Electric Donates to Local Food Pantries

(L-R) Back row: Fall River Electric lineworkers Ben Bollinger and Kade Larson; Front Row: Sue Heffron, food pantry director; Julie Kling, pantry assistant; Aaron Kearsley, lineworker; Linda Shaw, pantry volunteer; Tuc Atchley, lineworker; and Randy Farmer, line foreman.

(Jan. 18) Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative (Ashton, Idaho) lineworkers dropped off 2,480 pounds of nonperishable food to the Teton Valley Food Pantry this month. The cooperative collected the food during the December Stuff the Truck event at Broulim’s in Driggs, Idaho. Fall River Electric also presented the food pantry a check totaling $1,238, thanks to donations received from the cooperative’s members and the general public, and an additional $500 gift card courtesy of Ninety Eight Electric of Driggs.

This is the fourth consecutive year that Fall River Electric has set up Stuff the Truck events at local area grocery stores during December to collect food for the food banks and pantries in the co-op’s service territory. The food is then boxed and delivered in January when the food banks and pantries have depleted their inventories during the holiday season. In addition to Driggs, Stuff the Truck events were held in Ashton, Idaho; Rexburg, Idaho; and West Yellowstone, Montana. This year, donations totaled nearly 5,000 pounds of food and over $4,800 in cash.


Vigilante Electric Cooperative Announces Year-End Rebate

(Jan. 15) Vigilante Electric Cooperative (Dillon, Mont.) will provide a year-end rebate for customers after a financially successful 2021. Record new service installations, good irrigation sales and record residential sales all contributed to the high margins for the year. As a nonprofit electric cooperative, each year excess margins, over and above Vigilante Electric’s costs, are allocated back to the membership based on patronage received.

In 2021, the cooperative’s margins above its costs far exceeded what had been planned for at the beginning of the year based on budgeted estimates. The board of trustees deliberated and discussed the best way to reduce the cooperative’s margins to a more acceptable level. Staff proposed a rebate similar

to the one Vigilante Electric did last year, and the board approved that rebate at its November trustee meeting.

Current active accounts with Vigilante Electric will receive a bill credit on their December 2021 statement. The credit will be based on kWh usage for 2021. The total amount credited will be just less than $800,000.


We Remember: James Frank “Mac” McIntosh”

James Frank “Mac” McIntosh was born June 17, 1940 to Edna (Smith) and James B McIntosh and died in December 2021.

He attended school in Vancouver, Washington, and graduated from Hudson’s Bay High School in 1958, but not before marrying his high school sweetheart Judy Fitzgerald (a junior at Hudson’s Bay) earlier that year in January. Together they had three children.

The family moved when he was hired as a groundman for Clark County PUD (Vancouver, Wash.). Then, after getting hired at BPA as a mechanic helper, he actively pursued and completed an apprenticeship as a journeyman lineworker. He worked for JATC as an instructor and for BPA as a line foreman in Eugene, Oregon, and as assistant superintendent in Spokane, Washington. He returned to Vancouver in 1977 as the youngest ever line superintendent. In 1980, he began adventuring in Alaska. The Alaska wild enticed him, and in 1982 he resigned from BPA and moved to Mat-Su Valley to take a position as operations and maintenance director for Matanuska Electric (Palmer, Alaska). In 1993, he moved to Kodiak Island for a similar position.

McIntosh worked not only to better each organization he worked for, but also was dedicated to the wellbeing of the industry as a whole. In addition to authoring a distribution grounding program, which he provided to any who asked, he was adept at unraveling complicated environmental rules and guided many to become compliant without becoming bureaucratically bound.

He moved to Appleton, Washington, and began consulting work with utilities in the safety area. He also worked closely with NWPPA to educate their membership on compliance and accident investigation. He worked with many Northwest utilities, including Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (Baker City, Ore.), Tillamook PUD (Ore.), and Wasco PUD (Ore.).

McIntosh kindled long-lasting friendships in each organization he worked with, and he will be missed.


SMUD Board Elects New President, Vice President

Heidi Sanborn
Brandon Rose

(Jan. 14) SMUD’s (Sacramento, Calif.) board of directors elected Brandon Rose as president and Heidi Sanborn as vice president. Both Rose’s and Sanborn’s terms run from January through December 2022.

Rose was first elected to the board in 2016 and represents Ward 1, which includes Fair Oaks, Citrus Heights, Orangevale, and part of Folsom. Rose first became interested in energy policy while a student researching SMUD’s network of dams in the Sierra Nevada along Highway 50. He later gained extensive experience while working in the California Energy Commission’s Renewable Energy Office with a focus on emerging technologies, including solar and wind power. In his current role as an air pollution specialist with the California Environmental Protection Agency, Rose focuses on emerging zero and near-zero transportation technologies and the fuels that power them, such as hydrogen, renewable fuels, and electricity.

Sanborn was first elected to the SMUD Board of Directors in 2018 and represents Ward 7, which includes North Highlands, Carmichael, Antelope, and Foothill Farms. She is the founder of the National Stewardship Action Council and has served as its executive director since 2015. She is also the founding director of the California Product Stewardship Council, where she has served for 12 years. These nonprofits are dedicated to reducing waste, increasing recycling, and advocating for a circular economy.

Both Sanborn and Rose are active in their communities. Rose is currently an executive board member and past president of the Environmental Council of Sacramento, and Sanborn is on the board of the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento and is co-chair of the Giving Tree committee of the Kiwanis Club of Carmichael.


ORECA Announces New Deputy Executive Director and Board Members

Britni Davidson

(Jan. 13) Britni Davidson has joined the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s staff in a newly created role as the organization’s deputy executive director. Davidson comes to ORECA after spending 18 years at Salem Electric (Salem, Ore.), most recently as member services manager.

“Britni brings a depth of knowledge and experience to ORECA. She will be a great asset to the statewide’s 18 members,” said Ted Case, ORECA executive director.

ORECA also announced the association’s board members, newly elected at the annual membership meeting held Oct. 21, 2021 in Salem, Oregon. Fred Flippence, general manager at Harney Electric Cooperative (Hines, Ore.), was elected board president; Joe Van Meter, director at Salem Electric, was elected vice president; and Shirley Cairns, director at Douglas Electric Cooperative (Roseburg, Ore.), was re-elected as secretary/treasurer. At-large executive committee members include Peter Radabaugh, director at Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative (Port Orford, Ore.) and Russ Sapp, director at Consumers Power Inc. (Philomath, Ore.).

Joe Van Meter
Fred Flippence

The Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association represents the legislative and regulatory interests of not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperative utilities throughout Oregon. ORECA’s primary focus is member representation before the Oregon congressional delegation, the Oregon Legislature, and state and federal agencies. For more information, visit www.oreca.org.


AWG Announces Organizational Changes

Joshua Dorfman
Michael Dorfman

(Jan. 11) American Wire Group announced a key management change designed to further align the organization for the future. Effective Jan. 1, 2022, Michael Dorfman is chief executive officer and Joshua Dorfman has been appointed as president.

These new appointments position AWG for its exciting growth targets and expansion into new markets and territories. As CEO, Michael will focus on expanding AWG’s solutions to include new and innovative products and services for the renewable and utility markets, and to retain his focus on solving AWG customers’ needs.

Joshua will be responsible for maximizing customer service excellence, ensuring top quality products and services are available to AWG customers throughout the distribution network, and providing operational and systems controls to deliver on these priorities effectively.

“As a third-generation owners of AWG, Michael and Joshua have worked in several roles over the past 18 years. Their broad experience with both domestic and international customers, global supply chain optimization, and distribution excellence has given them a unique ability to foresee customers’ needs and deliver the best solutions in their interest. I am very excited to see where Michael and Joshua will take this company,” said Robert Dorfman, chair of AWG.

Michael, based in AWG’s Miami headquarters, holds a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University, specializing in finance, management information systems, and business.

Joshua, based in AWG’s Chicago operations center, holds an MBA from Loyola University, Quinlan School of Business, specializing in entrepreneurship & operations management, and a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and international marketing from George Washington University.

American Wire Group specializes in wire and cable solutions for the utility and renewable energy markets. For more information, visit www.buyawg.com.


CoBank Quarterly: How Funds Are Spent Will Inform Success of Water and Broadband Programs

(Jan. 13) Natural gas and coal prices soared to multi-year highs in 2021 as buyers scrambled to line up sufficient supply ahead of winter. Last year’s massive economic reboot and the inability of producers to keep up was largely to blame for energy supply shortfalls and run-away prices. However, some argue that energy transition played a role in high fuel prices, as collective weaning from fossil fuels hobbles supplier response. The energy crisis playing out in Europe appears to support that analysis.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides $15 billion for lead pipe removal, a far cry from the $45 billion likely required. However, as the largest pay-out in a generation, the funding could make a meaningful dent in addressing this problem. Success of the current program will depend, in part, on how funds are spent.

The $65 billion in new broadband funding is triple the size of the Rural Development Opportunity Fund, which was the largest federal government broadband subsidy program. States will receive two-thirds of the funding to build networks in unserved and underserved areas. By tapping into local knowledge of where coverage is needed and who can build it, the Federal Communications Commission appears to have learned from the shortcomings of previous programs.

CoBank is a $155 billion cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America, including agribusinesses and rural power, water, and communications providers in all 50 states. For more information, visit www.cobank.com.


NISC Announces Newly Elected Board Directors

(Jan. 13) National Information Solutions Cooperative has announced the results of their 2021 board election.

As a result of the online director voting, the following directors were elected: Ron Salyer, re-elected to District 4, Pioneer Rural Electric Cooperative (Ohio); Paul Fitterer, District 6, Capital Electric Cooperative (North Dakota); Dan Sisco, District 8, Se-Ma-No Electric Cooperative (Missouri); Cassidy Hjelmstad, District 14, SRT Communications (North Dakota).

Nominations for the NISC Board began in August 2021 and letters from interested candidates were due Sept. 15, 2021. The official election process began Oct. 15 and ballots closed Dec. 1.

“We are excited to welcome three new directors to the NISC board and greatly appreciate their willingness to serve and represent the membership,” said NISC president and CEO Dan Wilbanks. “The board is key to how we develop solutions for members and to ensuring NISC stays focused on our strategic goals.”

The new directors officially began their duties at NISC’s board strategic planning meetings, which took place this month in conjunction with NRECA’s CEO Close-Up Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The directors representing Districts 4, 6, 8, and 14 will each serve a three-year term which will expire at NISC’s annual meeting in 2025. This year’s online election will again begin in the August timeframe.

“We look forward to working with our new directors and the full NISC board as we continue to navigate new challenges and opportunities and provide the best service and support possible to our members,” said Wilbanks.

National Information Solutions Cooperative is an information technology organization that develops, implements, and supports software and hardware solutions for telephone companies, electric cooperatives, and other public power entities. NISC serves members in all 50 states, American Samoa, Palau, and Canada. For more information, visit www.nisc.coop.


Siemens Honors 2021 Inventors of the Year

(Jan. 12) For years, Siemens has been among the companies filing the highest numbers of patent applications worldwide. The resulting patents lay the groundwork for Siemens’ future success and growth. For 2021, Siemens has again recognized particularly resourceful researchers as its Inventors of the Year. The 15 inventors being honored come from Germany, the U.S., Israel, India, the U.K., and Poland. The awardees’ inventions span Siemens’ entire spectrum, and they all pursue advances based on the company’s understanding of innovation:technology that serves people and improves their everyday lives. The inventions range from hydrogen-powered trains to a smart solution for stabilizing power grids that employ a high percentage of renewable energies, and they extend all the way to a cancer treatment that is available for many more patients.

“Innovations have been the foundation for our success for nearly 175 years. I’m proud that we consistently hold top-level positions in the international patent rankings. Yet I’m even more impressed by the quality of our company’s inventions” said Peter Körte, chief technology officer of Siemens AG. “We use our solutions to tackle the major challenges of our time. Our inventors lay the foundation for progress and create sustainable value for our customers and for society – and that’s Siemens’ purpose as a company.”

Since 1995, Siemens has been presenting its Inventors of the Year awards annually to outstanding research and development employees whose inventions contribute substantially to the company’s success. Since 2016, these awards have also been presented to researchers from outside the company.

Siemens filed around 2,500 patent applications worldwide in fiscal 2021. In total, the company holds more than 43,400 granted patents. During fiscal 2021, Siemens employees reported 4,483 inventions, or about 20 inventions per workday.

Siemens is a technology company focused on industry, infrastructure, transport, and healthcare. For more information, visit www.siemens.com.


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