Friday, June 29, 2007

Share your comments on the 2007 National Conference & Public Power Expo

The problem with APPA’s National Conference is the inability to be in more than one place at a time. Papers accompanying all conference sessions are posted on the APPA Web site. And we created this blog to help alleviate that problem. Now that the excitement of the 2007 conference is behind us, we invite those of you who attended the meeting to share your comments on what you learned, which sessions you found to be valuable and what kinds of topics you’d like to see discussed in future meetings. Please add your comments to this post.

Take a look at some of the earlier posts (below). We’ve captured an image from Ray Hayward’s humorous spoof on APPA President & CEO Alan Richardson. You can also share your good wishes with Alan, who will retire at the end of 2007, on this blog.

Getting out of San Antonio was challenging for several conference-goers—but that’s flying. Few would disagree that the food in the city’s many fine restaurants is great. Look at our blog post on interesting restaurants and share your comments about your favorite dining spots in San Antonio. It’s a great city to visit and many in public power are sure to return there again. And join all your colleagues in public power for the 2008 National Conference & Public Power Expo in New Orleans next June 21-25.

A Tiger Club for Twitty

Outgoing APPA Chairman John Twitty, general manager of City Utilities of Springfield, Mo., received a brand new golf club, dressed as a University of Missouri Tiger. The gift was in recognition of Twitty’s year as chairman of the American Public Power Association board of directors.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chairman Huval puts broadband, market reform, climate change solutions at top of his agenda

APPA needs to grow its political action committee, continue its work on electric market reform and climate change, and work to boost the broadband capability of the United States, said Terry Huval, general manager of Lafayette Utilities System in Louisiana, at the closing general session of the association’s 2007 National Conference. Huval is the new chairman of the APPA board of directors.

Lafayette Utilities System is building a citywide fiber-to-the-home communications system and the new APPA chairman wants to help ensure that all communities have the right to construct similar systems, if they so chose. The United States is now ranked 25th in the world in broadband development and public power needs to advance a public policy agenda that will create a more robust telecommunications industry in the nation, Huval said.

Noting that half of APPA member utilities operate water as well as electric utilities, Huval said he hopes to begin a closer partnership in the coming year with the American Water Works Association.

Huval also urged APPA members to attend the 2008 National Conference, June 21-25 in New Orleans.

‘Public power can and should’ lead climate change solutions, says Radin Award winner Jan Schori

Jan Schori, general manager of Sacramento Municipal Utility District in California, is the 2007 recipient of APPA’s highest award, the Alex Radin Distinguished Service Award. In announcing the award, William Gallagher, chairman of the 2007 Nominations and Awards Committee, praised Schori for her leadership in a wide variety of industry activities, especially those related to environmental issues. The award was presented June 27 during the final general session of APPA’s 2007 National Conference in San Antonio.

“We are fortunate to have the privilege of taking the long view in serving our customers,” Schori said. Solutions to the challenge of climate change “are within our grasp” and “public power can and should lead” initiatives to address the challenge, she said.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Portney, Specker address policy and technology of confronting climate change

“Gore won,” quipped APPA President and CEO Alan H. Richardson in introducing the Tuesday morning session on climate change policy options and technology solutions. Quoting former New York Gov. George Pataki’s shorthand assessment of the politics of climate change, Richardson said the nation clearly needs to set aside debate about whether the earth is warming and develop policies for reducing carbon emissions.

Dr. Paul Portney, dean of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and Dr. Steven Specker, president and CEO of the Electric Power Research Institute, shared their views on policies and technologies for addressing climate change.

Portney, an economist who spent many years at Resources for the Future, a Washington, D.C., public policy organization, said the United States needs to begin now to introduce policies that impose a penalty on technologies that emit carbon into the atmosphere. The process should be gradual, he said. A carbon tax would be more practical than a cap-and-trade emissions allowance program, but the latter approach is the more politically viable policy. If the warming trend observed over the last 20 years were to reverse, it would be much easier to repeal a carbon tax than to set aside an emissions allowance trading program, he said.

Utilities can start reducing carbon emissions now by implementing energy efficiency programs, followed by a scale-up of renewable energy resources, Specker said. Expansion of nuclear energy and advanced coal generating technologies also have the potential to make meaningful reductions in carbon emissions and introduction of carbon capture and sequestration could bring about a decline in carbon emissions by 2020, he said. By 2030, greater use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and distributed energy could further reduce carbon emissions.

It is technically feasible for the electricity sector to get back to 1990 carbon emission levels by 2030, Specker said. It won’t be easy, but it is possible.

Add your comments about this and other sessions on climate change to this post.

Monday, June 25, 2007

BBC correspondent Katty Kay gives her take on presidential politics

The number one job of the next president of the United States will be to restore the nation’s global prestige, BBC correspondent Katty Kay told APPA members at the conference’s opening general session in San Antonio on June 25. All candidates in the 2008 presidential race want to distance themselves from George Bush, she said. The Bush administration went wrong in the unilateral way it implemented its agenda, without consulting others, she said.

She gave her take on candidates in the race so far, noting that a Hillary Clinton-Rudy Giuliani race would pit a “pushy New Yorker with marital problems against a pushy New Yorker with marital problems.” The possible entrance into the race of another New Yorker, newly independent Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, is interesting, she said. The billionaire mayor is unlikely to get elected president, but he could be a kingmaker, she said.

What did you think about Katty Kay’s remarks? Respond to this post with your comments.

New Statesmanship Award Honors Richardson

The APPA board of directors on June 23, approved creation of the Alan H. Richardson Statesmanship Award to recognize leadership in building consensus. The award was created to honor Richardson, who will retire at the end of 2007. In its resolution establishing the award, the board said the outgoing CEO has skillfully united APPA members around policy challenges and built common ground that transcends the geography, size and other characteristics of the association’s diverse membership.

APPA Chairman John Twitty announced creation of the award during the opening general session of the National Conference in San Antonio.

RP3: you may already qualify—just write it down

In a Monday morning session about “RP3 best practices,” Carl Gaulke, general manager of River Falls Municipal Utilities in Wisconsin, said his utility’s efforts to prepare an application to win recognition as a “Reliable Public Power Provider” was very time-consuming, but revealed that the utility was engaged in all the activities required to qualify as an RP3 award winner. Gaulke and Steve Blanchard, general manager of Fayetteville Public Works Commission in North Carolina, described various aspects of their utility operations that led to RP3 recognition.

Both River Falls and Fayetteville were among only four utilities to achieve diamond level RP3 recognition, the highest level achievable.

During discussion at the session, APPA Vice President Michael Hyland shared an anecdote about a utility manager who applied for RP3 recognition, knowing his utility would not make the cut. But the “failing grade” from the RP3 review panel gave the utility manager the ammunition needed to get his city council to approve a capital improvement plan.

Add your comments to this post about this or other discussion sessions at the APPA National Conference.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Abraham Richardson? Franklin Delano Richardson? Alan and Laura?

Some people try hard to be funny and they shouldn’t. Raymond Hayward is not one. The Legislative & Resolutions Committee and laughter normally would not be used in the same sentence, but Hayward, the general manager of the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency and this year’s chair of the L&R Committee, brought down the meeting room Sunday afternoon.

Hayward warmed up with a series of questions about Alan Richardson’s achievements, drawn from the Internet. Attendees learned that “Alan Richardson” was an expert on deep body message, had authored several extremely esoteric papers and recently appealed his conviction. Sitting in the back of the room, Alan H. Richardson was visibly amused.

The highlight was Hayward’s slide show on the uncanny resemblance between Richardson and several U.S. presidents (hence the headline of this blog). You had to be there.

L&R Committee Approves 17 Resolutions

Setting the stage for a final vote on Tuesday by APPA members, the association’s Legislative and Resolutions Committee on Sunday approved three new policy resolutions on financial issues and affirmed fourteen others that the committee approved as interim APPA policy in March (after amending one on climate change). The climate change resolution was amended to urge Congress to adopt comprehensive legislation incorporating certain principles, rather than just to consider ways to address climate change.

As amended, the principles call for any federal legislation on climate change to:
• be economy-wide, apply to all industry sectors and consider local, state and regional initiatives while being implemented uniformly nationwide;
• consider the financial impact on consumers;
• protect the ability of U.S. industries to compete in world markets;
• allow credit for early actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
• maintain reliability, protect national security and avoid over-reliance on any single fuel;
• place an immediate focus on energy efficiency for all energy uses; and
• ensure that tax-based or other incentives for renewable and clean energy are provided on a comparable basis to all electric industry sectors, including public power;
• ensure emission-reduction targets are consistent with commercially available technologies; and
• ensure any generation portfolio requirements allow all low-emission technologies.

The three new resolutions not addressed in March oppose extension of the “Transco” capital gains tax deferral provision of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as an unjust windfall for shareholders of independent transmission companies; support APPA and its members working with policy makers to determine appropriate modifications to arbitrage rules for tax-exempt bonds that would allow for the use of investment profits for worthwhile public purposes; and urge Congress to eliminate or substantially reduce private use restrictions on tax-exempt bonds for financing transmission infrastructure.

Other resolutions support cleaner power generation through nuclear, near-zero-emissions coal, and ocean wave and tidal technologies. They promote development of flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and focus on helping to meet the energy efficiency and renewable energy goals of the 2007 Farm Bill.

In addition, resolutions express concern about how regional transmission organizations have created obstacles to public power utilities as providers of reliable and low-cost electric power, and urge Congress to hold oversight hearings on the functioning of the wholesale electricity markets. They urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to rigorously enforce Order No. 890 and the revised open access transmission tariff. They also support implementation of mandatory and enforceable electric reliability standards based on fair, open, independent and competitively neutral governance of the electric reliability organization.

APPA members will vote on the 17 resolutions at the association’s annual business meeting Tuesday afternoon. Once approved by members at the business meeting, a resolution becomes official APPA policy.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Is this your first APPA National Conference?

If this is your first trip to an APPA National Conference, the association’s board of directors and staff invite you to a welcome and orientation meeting on Sunday afternoon at 4 o’clock in Conference Room 7 of the Marriott RiverCenter Hotel. This small gathering offers first-timers an opportunity to meet members of the board and staff and to ask questions about APPA membership and meeting activities.

What’s perking on Sunday?

Three full-day and three half-day pre-conference seminars are offered on Sunday, June 24, beginning at 8:30 in the Marriott RiverWalk Hotel. Walk-in registrants are welcome. The full-day seminars cover:
• Financial Planning for Policymakers and Boards of Directors (led by Mark Beauchamp, president of Utility Financial Solutions, Holland, Mich.
• Strategic Planning for Community-Owned Utilities, led by Bryan Singletary, president of Practical Energies, Tampa, Fla.)
• Enterprise Risk Management (led by Carol Arneson, Lynn Coles, Jodi Dobson and Russ Hissom of Virchow Krause in Madison, Wis.

Participants in the full-day seminars will earn 0.7 continuing education units and 6.5 professional development hours.

Sunday’s half-day seminars will address Public Participation (8:30 to noon), led by Guy Nelson of Utility Energy forum, Lincoln City, Ore., Governance as Leadership, led by Jean Freeman of Freeman & Associates, Fairfax, Va. (8:30 to noon) and Board Self-Evaluation (1-4:30), also led by Jean Freeman. Participants in the half-day sessions will earn 0.3 CEUs or 3 PDHs.

Sunday’s activities also include the Legislative & Resolutions Committee meeting from 2-4 p.m. , a briefing on activities of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at 3 o’clock and 4 o’clock meetings for joint action agencies and the Power Marketing Administration Task Force.

The day will conclude with the grand welcoming reception from 6-7:30 in the Grand Ballroom A of the Marriott RiverCenter.

Best wishes to Alan Richardson

President & CEO Alan H. Richardson has attended every APPA National Conference since 1977. This meeting will be his last as an APPA staff member. Richardson has been the association’s CEO since 1995. He will retire Dec. 31, 2007. The board of directors gave him a resolution of appreciation during its meeting on Saturday morning and presented him with a Life Membership Award at a luncheon following the meeting. Look for the special table in the registration area in the Marriott RiverCenter Hotel, where conference attendees can stop by and write a personal message of good wishes to Alan. Visitors to this page can also write messages to Alan here in the comments section.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Interesting restaurants

I strayed away from the River Walk for my first dining experience in San Antonio-to La Frite Belgian Bistro in the 700 block of S. Alamo St. The stroll (about 8 blocks from the Marriott RiverCenter/RiverWalk hotels) evokes a sense of a walk into the Wild West of the 19th century. The block has several interesting, casual restaurants. La Frite has a 1950s diner feel—relaxed and casual, with Formica-topped tables and well-worn chairs—but the food rivals that of a fine French bistro. The pricing scheme caught me off guard. For $32, diners can choose three courses (appetizer, entrée and dessert). I opted for a salad instead of one of the fixed-price appetizers, (frog legs, crab, snails), triggering a la carte pricing—which cost me a small premium. My entrée choice – amberjack (a fresh-catch Gulf of Mexico white fish), served with risotto and a mix of fresh vegetables, was exquisite. La Frite is open for lunch 11:30-2:00 and dinner 6-10:30 Tuesday through Friday. It is open only for dinner on Saturdays (5- 10:30) and is closed on Sundays and Mondays. For information call 210/224-7555.

Write your comments here about your dining experiences in San Antonio. (written by Jeanne LaBella)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pre-Conference Seminars Take In-Depth Look at Hot Topics

APPA National Conference activities kick off on Saturday, June 23, with three all-day and three half-day pre-conference seminars. The Saturday sessions will all be held in salons of the Alamo Ballroom in the MarriottRiverWalk Hotel. Program will egin at 8:30 On-site registrants are welcome. Choose an all-day seminar from these topics:

Electric Utility Industry Economics and the Role of Public Power--an examination of the economic rationale for public enterprises, led by John Kelly, director of economics and research for the American Public Power Association.

Power Supply 101--This is a great opportunity for newcomers to the industry to learn basic technical information about electric utility systems. Presenter Bryan Singletary is entertaining and a veteran of popular utility education programs.

Community Preparedness: Ensuring Your Community is Ready to Recruit New Businesses and Retain Existing Ones--If your responsibilities include economic development, you'll want to check out this session. David Kolzow of the Tennessee Economic Development Center will lead a day-long examination of ways to help your community grow.

If a full day on a single topic is too much for you, consider a morning program and an afternoon program on a couple of these topics:

Leadership in the Midst of a Disaster--Diane Fojt, CEO of Corporate Crisis Management, Inc. and a frontline disaster leader, will examine what utility leaders need to understand about disaster response operations. The program will be offered in the morning and repeated in the afternoon.

The Cascading Effect of Sarbanes-Oxley on Public Power--Federal legislation to reform corporate behavior was not enacted to address government agency activities, but publicly owned enterprises are nonetheless affected. Steven Dawson, a CPA, will talk about the spillover effects of this major federal law on state and local governmental entities. The session will be offered from 8:30 to noon.

The Financial Audit Process--CPA Steven Dawson will spend the afternoon (1-4:30) explaining the why, how and who of financial audits.

Monday, June 18, 2007


The American Public Power Association will hold its annual National Conference & Public Power Expo at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk/Rivercenter, June 24-27. Watch this space for reports on presentations at conference sessions and share your own observations about the meeting. Pre-conference seminars will be offered on Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24. The conference will formally open Sunday evening, June 24, with a welcoming reception from 6 to 7:30 p.m.