Conference focuses on resource planning for utilities

If integrated resource planning (IRP) seemed difficult in the past, a whole new set of factors; including the Clean Power Plan, advances in storage, renewable energy portfolios and smart devices galore; are piling on to make it more challenging—and more important—than ever. An upcoming conference, How Changes in the 2016 Grid Affect IRPs You are leaving Western's site., may help your utility address those challenges, while building general planning skills.

The professional development company EUCI is presenting its 16th Annual Integrated Resource Planning Conference, March 20-22, in Long Beach, California. The conference provides a showcase for IRP “best practices” that takes into account the new pressures utilities face in managing and forecasting their loads.

Far-reaching program
The agenda is designed not just for resource and strategic planners, but for financial analysts, efficiency and demand response program managers and professionals who are responsible for mandate compliance as well.

Speakers include leading utility and power resource planning professionals and related industry experts. Presentations will use case studies to illustrate methodologies that predict and plan for future operational and investment requirements. Key topics include:

  • Properly modeling energy storage and integrating it into an IRP
  • How Clean Power Plan requirements should be rendered in the IRP planning process and document
  • How to factor operational flexibility requirements into resource selection decision-making
  • Planning for uncertainty and risk related to fuel prices and transportation infrastructure
  • Determining a utility’s avoided cost for PURPA [Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act]and variable generation (VG) resources

In addition to two days of packed sessions, EUCI has also scheduled pre- and post-conference workshops. IRP Planning Challenges and Critical Analysis for Emerging Business Models, March 21, provides analytic, modeling and planning insights as they relate to the new business forces that are transforming the utility industry. On March 23, following the conference wrap-up, Energy Storage Valuation examines the questions utilities and system planners have relating to modeling and implementing storage.

What you get
Participants will learn about developing comprehensive resource plans that provide solutions to operational issues and accurately account for variables. Sessions will offer insights on the impact of renewables on carbon emissions, and on communicating IRP results to stakeholders and regulators. Attendees can gain practical resource planning skills that will help position their utilities to negotiate the industry’s rapidly evolving business model environment.

Besides new skills, EUCI is offering .9 continuing education units (CEU) for the conference and .3 CEUs for each workshop. The International Association for Continuing Education and Training You are leaving Western's site. has accredited EUCI as an authorized training provider.

Good for you, for Western
Energy Services is not only suggesting that our customers investigate this training opportunity—we are planning to send representatives to the IRP Conference, as well. It is critical that Western understands the demands of the new planning environment thoroughly to give our customers the support they need as the industry changes.

Register before March 4 to receive the early-bird discount. EUCI is offering a discount for organizations wishing to send multiple attendees. Send three delegates and the fourth attends for free, as long as all registrations are made at the same time. Contact Ron Horstman for more information about the package discount.

Rooms at Hyatt the Pike, the conference location, must be reserved before Feb. 20 to receive the special group rate.

Electro-Tech Expo showcases efficient technology

For the 16th year, a Western customer and an investor-owned utility are teaming up to expose energy professionals in the Upper Great Plains region to cutting-edge equipment and systems and the latest in best construction practices.

US Chamber of Commerce Senior Policy Director Heath Knakmuhs spoke at the 15th annual Electro-Technology Expo last year. The event attracts policy makers as well as experts from across the electronics, construction and utility industries.

US Chamber of Commerce Senior Policy Director Heath Knakmuhs spoke at the 15th annual Electro-Technology Expo last year. The event attracts policy makers as well as experts from across the electronics, construction and utility industries. (Photo by Black Hills Power)

The 2016 Electro-Technology Expo  You are leaving Western's site. will take place, Jan. 21, 2016, at the Ramkota Best Western Inn and Convention Center in Rapid City, South Dakota. West River Electric Association You are leaving Western's site. of Wall, South Dakota, and Black Hills Power You are leaving Western's site. of Rapid City co-sponsor this popular event. Western also supports the Expo as a co-sponsor. UGP Energy Services Representative Georganne Myers said, “It’s a great place for our customers to network and learn so much in one day, and the price is affordable.” Admission to Electro-Technology Expo is $30, which includes qualifying code hours and continuing education credits.

Something for everybody
In fact, the Electro-Technology Expo is designed specifically to bring professionals together. This year’s Keynote Speaker is Mike Eggl, senior vice president of Communications and Administration for Basin Electric Power Cooperative You are leaving Western's site.. Vendors display state-of-the-art, energy-efficiency technology on the exhibit floor where utility program managers and contractors can inspect the equipment and get answers to their questions. Industry experts conduct workshops on topics of concern to power providers, facility managers and building industry professionals.

This year’s sessions include:

  • LED street and area lighting case studies – several sessions plus vendor booths
  • Demand management systems
  • Geothermal systems
  • Energy-efficient lighting technology
  • Home weatherization
  • Sustainability incentives
  • Electrical code classes (three sessions)
  • Motors and drives
  • Heat pump system troubleshooting
  • Hydronic in-floor heating systems
  • Changes in water heater regulations
  • Utility energy-efficiency program overview

Organizers distribute surveys at the end of the event to ask attendees for suggestions on future topics. “We start working on the next Expo the day after,” said Black Hills Power Energy Services Engineer Don Martinez.

Going strong
The value of the Expo shows in its enduring popularity. Attendance has grown over the years to more than 300 in 2015. Part of the growth has to do with an explosion of energy-related technologies. “Each year, attendees can count on seeing something new,” Martinez observed. “So much is happening in the industry, it can be hard to keep up. The Expo is a one-day crash course.”

The speaker roster is drawn mainly from vendors and suppliers, who have the opportunity to reach out to potential customers. Design and construction professionals; facility energy managers; building system specialists and real estate sales representatives, appraisers and inspectors can network with one another. Utility professionals get to meet with attendees from industries that have a profound effect on energy use.

The Expo planning committee has also built relationships with the local trade schools and school of mines. “It’s a chance to familiarize students with different aspects of the energy industry and let them know what kind of careers are out there for them,” Martinez explained. “The Expo is not a job fair, but connections happen,” he added.

Spreading efficiency
Putting on an event like the Expo is a lot of work that many utilities would consider beyond their scope. For Black Hills and West River, however, the Expo is a way to educate customers about equipment and practices that can reduce utility bills and operating costs. Getting trade allies excited about more efficient products to offer their customers has an upstream effect, as well, driving eventual market transformation.

The benefits of creating a forum for sharing information about energy-efficiency technologies and practices are significant enough to get a public power utility and an investor-owned utility to work together. “It is not often you see a joint effort between a public power utility and an IOU,” acknowledged Martinez. “But customer education is an important part of every power provider’s mission.”

For more information about the 2016 Electro-Technology Expo, on either attending or exhibiting, contact Jamie Hill at 605-721-2276.

New online solar training targets building code officials – UPDATE!

The limited training of municipal code officials—the individuals who approve proposed plans and inspect and approve installations of photovoltaic (PV) systems—presents a significant barrier to expanding the solar market. To help address this issue, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council Redirecting to a non-government site (IREC) has launched a dynamic new online training opportunity this month through the National Training and Educational Resource Redirecting to a non-government site (NTER). The system provides consistent, effective training to quickly and cost-effectively reach a far greater number of code officials than traditional onsite workshops and seminars could.

The project is part of IREC’s role as the national administrator of the Solar Instructor Training Network, through a grant with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). “Development of the Photovoltaic Online Training (PVOT) project expands the reach and scale of training,” says IREC Executive Director Jane Weissman, “and it creates an avenue for more consistent learning nationwide.”

While the online program is targeted to code officials, to instruct in key issues for granting permits and performing field inspections for residential PV installations, it is also available to others. Read more. Source: IREC News, 10/1/12

UPDATE!

As part of its commitment to invest in skills for American workers, the Energy Department is offering the online training free to building and electrical code inspectors for residential PV installations. There is a nominal fee for obtaining continuing education units through the International Association of Electrical Inspectors Redirecting to a non-government site (IAEI). Participants who want credit should check with their local jurisdiction or state to determine if the jurisdiction recognizes IAEI’s continuing education units.

The PVOT program supports the mission of DOE’s SunShot Initiative, which aims to deliver cost-competitive solar energy by 2020 while creating workforce development opportunities and driving energy innovation across the United States.

APPA Academy debuts this week

APPA is launching the APPA Academy, public power’s complete resource for professional education and certification. Through a variety of delivery methods—live, in-depth education courses, in-house training programs, conferences, webinars, list servers, online courses and work force development partnerships—the APPA Academy will help electric utility employees stay abreast of rapidly moving industry technologies and regulatory requirements while providing an opportunity for them to meet their yearly training goals and certification requirements in formats and price ranges that suit their needs.

In addition to providing utility employees with the knowledge they need to perform their jobs at the highest level, various education courses, in-house training, conferences, certificate programs and webinars in the APPA Academy meet the criteria for providing:

  • CEcD Hours – needed by Certified Economic Developers to maintain certification;
  • Continuing Education Units (CEUs) – required by many professions to maintain certification;
  • Continuing Legal Education credits (CLEs) – needed by lawyers to practice law within a particular jurisdiction;
  • Continuing Professional Education credits (CPEs) – required by CPAs to maintain licensure;
  • HCRI Hours – required by Human Resources professionals to maintain certification; and
  • Professional Development Hours (PDHs) – needed by engineers to maintain licensure.

Additionally, when employees participate in APPA Academy offerings, utilities earn points toward their Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) designation.