APPA’s Public Power Connect, June 8


American Public Power Association

Fortnightly Magazine - July 2020

The American Public Power Association's 2020 National Conference couldn't take place in Long Beach, California - given everyone is social distancing these days - but the APPA did the next best thing. It held key parts of the conference virtually, on June 8. One of the most cherished of these is the awards ceremony, which we have excerpted here. It's almost like we were all able to be in Long Beach.

E. F. Scattergood System Achievement Award

This award honors utilities with outstanding accomplishments. There are two winners in 2020. The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority has worked tirelessly to extend electricity to as many homes in the Navajo Nation as possible. In 2019, NTUA partnered with APPA to create and launch a pilot project to connect the homes of Navajo families to the electric grid. This historic project is called Light Up Navajo and unites the public power community for a common cause, to extend electricity to families who have been waiting many years to be connected. Together, in six weeks, they helped connect two hundred and thirty-three Navajo families to the electric grid for the very first time.

Pasadena Water & Power in California launched its transportation electrification initiative, Power Up Pasadena, in August 2018. Since then, the electric vehicle program has expanded to include several city-wide programs and undertakings, resulting in the utility's customers having the highest percentage of EVs of any electric utility in Southern California. Recently, Power Up Pasadena's initiatives moved into the national spotlight when PWP partnered with Tesla to launch the largest public EV fast-charging station in the country. The utility has intensified efforts to improve the quality of life for its community by helping citizens, businesses, and visitors alike in the larger campaign to preserve our natural resources.

Sue Kelly Community Service Award

This award recognizes utilities for their good neighbor activities that demonstrate commitment to the local community. Five utilities are receiving this award in 2020. CPS Energy in San Antonio, Texas, partnered with local government entities to establish the Residential Energy Assistance Partnership, also known as REAP. REAP was specifically created to assist struggling families and allow their neighbors to lend a helping hand for the elderly, the medically dependent, and low-income families with young children.

Since the partnership began, CPS Energy has given over one million dollars annually to the fund and provides over seven hundred families a year with support for their energy services. Along with REAP, the CPS Energy Corporate Responsibility Team developed Grills Giving, a family-friendly way to engage the community while raising money for REAP through a competitive barbecue cook-off. The fifth annual event in November 2019 raised more than seventy-three thousand dollars, a hundred and twenty-eight percent increase over the previous year. CPS Energy demonstrates how the power of partnerships and working together can positively impact the lives of others.

Crawfordsville Electric Light & Power in Indiana shows every day that it is dedicated to serving its customers beyond supplying power. Crawfordsville makes it a point to begin educating children early on electric safety. The utility has its own electric demonstration kit and travels to local schools. Crawfordsville sponsors and attends several community events to support its business community and residents. While Crawfordsville performs activities to support the community, the utility has also seen customer loyalty grow. The more events and activities that Crawfordsville is involved in, the more the community understands the importance of having a local utility. Crawfordsville doesn't just provide a service to the community, it is part of the community and is woven throughout the places, events, and memories.

Easton Utilities in Maryland participated in Talbot Goes Purple, a program designed to engage the community in understanding the opioid epidemic and how substance misuse affects the community. All utility employees attended an informational seminar and received a purple shirt which they were encouraged to wear each Friday in September for a two dollar donation. Easton Utilities matched the funds raised from Purple Fridays and donated the money to Talbot Goes Purple. In support of the program, the utility also decided to turn the town purple. Electric crews wrapped a hundred and fifty-two poles with purple lights and added flood lighting to key landmarks in the community. Easton Utility's commitment to Talbot Goes Purple was admired by the community and helped bring awareness to, and fight against, addiction.

Glendale Water & Power in California selflessly helped others in need last year in a variety of ways through its D.E.V.O.T.E. Program, which stands for Dedicated Employees Volunteering Our Time and Energy. GWP's efforts included volunteering at a local homeless shelter, organizing and cleaning the Glendale Salvation Army's food pantry, sponsoring a local after school program, donating school supplies to foster care and homeless students, and sponsoring families through the YWCA Glendale's Adopt-A-Family program. GWP employees believe the power of human connection can help foster a more productive, innovative, and inclusive society and that, by harnessing their collective power, they can achieve lasting impact for the greater good.

Knoxville Utilities Board in Tennessee participates in programs and initiatives that directly connect with its customers and cater to the community's unique needs. KUB developed and facilitates programs that reach customers across a wide spectrum of those needs, including by partnering with TVA's eScore programs to provide energy and water-saving workshops, assisting low-income customers through weatherization programs, and providing educational outreach such as safety demonstrations and informational sessions with area stakeholders and students.

KUB also partnered with a local high school for twenty-five years to help students learn job skills and prepare for future careers. As of 2019, four hundred and thirty-three students had completed the program and ten former students work at KUB full time. KUB also makes a dedicated effort to support the United Way of Greater Knoxville every year. Since 2004, employees have raised more than $3.7 million to support United Way. Through these initiatives, KUB lives out its commitment to serving its customers and community.

Energy Innovator Award

This award recognizes innovative utility projects. There are three winners this year. Heartland Consumers Power District in Madison, South Dakota employed a college intern in 2019 to develop calculator tools to help determine the annual benefit and cost of installing a renewable solar array. One calculator is for retail customers who want to install solar panels on their property, while the other is for the utility to determine the cost to the utility itself. The tool allows the residential user to enter data, such as state of residence, electricity cost, home electric usage, and solar array size or budget so the calculator can report back estimated energy savings, cost savings, and potential payback. The calculators make some assumptions but do so based on answers to certain questions such as geographic location, making it a useful tool for any utility.

Lakeland Electric in Florida designed a damage assessment restoration toolset, which utilizes existing Environmental Systems Research Institute geographic information system applications in conjunction with customized dashboards developed in-house to create an easy mobile solution for all facets of damage assessment and data collection. The toolset captures location, image, and expense data required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for cost reimbursement, utilizing a built-in program manager application to coordinate and update collections.

The entire platform works in conjunction with GIS data and maps and is integrated with Lakeland Electric's workforce management products to coordinate work orders and employee time. The toolset works on any mobile device with or without Wi-Fi or wireless networks, to enable field crews to input realtime damage assessment information while at the work site. The Lakeland Electric Damage Assessment Restoration Toolset has been featured in a variety of publications and has also received praise from Lakeland's elected officials.

DEED Award of Continued Excellence

This award recognizes a utility that has demonstrated continued commitment to the DEED program and its ideals with the use of new methods, techniques, and technologies to improve utility operations and energy services to customers and support of public power. American Municipal Power in Columbus, Ohio, teamed up with the Smart Electric Power Lines to create a Public Power Electric Vehicle Planning Toolkit and Guidebook. The EV toolkit is a user-friendly, intuitive resource for APPA member utilities to obtain insight into the preliminary economic impacts of electrification efforts with their internal fleet vehicles and the effects of increased loading on residential distribution system service transformers under various EV charging scenarios. AMP designed the EV toolkit to assist public power systems throughout the country in planning for EVs within their fleets and community.

To date, more than a hundred and thirty-three utilities have downloaded the tool. This is just one of seven DEED grants AMP has received since 2003. AMP supports the ideals of the DEED program through various ways, such as its Voluntary Green Pricing program, Annual Sustainability Grants, a member-led Focus Forward initiative, and a scholarship program for high school students.