From the Executive Director: Wrapping up a productive year

June 10, 2018

The four organizations of NMPP Energy recently closed their respective books on the fiscal year, which ended March 31. It was a busy year for each of the organizations as staff continued to look for ways to provide value to the communities we serve. The following recap is far from a comprehensive list, but it highlights the wide range of complex issues and topics the NMPP Energy organizations address daily:

Nebraska Municipal Power Pool (utility-related services)

• NMPP’s Cost of Service Study program continues to be a valued service to communities. There were several renewed and new contracts signed during the year. Overall, there are 53 communities that use the cost-based service.

• NMPP continued to administer the LED Commercial Lighting Program for long-term power participants of the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska. There were more than 90 lighting projects in nearly 30 communities approved during the year.

• Staff continued to stay engaged with regional organizations to forge partnerships and increase advocacy and educational opportunities for members.

• Through NMPP’s partnership with Salt Creek Software, PowerManager software continues to provide value to many communities with more than 93 percent using the Value Support Plan maintenance program. The conversion to a new back-end database server is nearing completion, which will provide a reliable platform for the future.

Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska
(wholesale electric supply)

• Completed the decommissioning of the Kimball Wind Farm and will begin taking power from the newly-constructed Kimball Wind Farm under a power purchase agreement this summer.

• Held several meetings and worked with member communities to adopt an interconnection policy to accommodate customer-owned renewable generation.

• Completed the five-year Integrated Resource Plan which serves as MEAN’s long-term road map for resource planning.

• Staff remained highly active with the Regional Transmission Organizations in the regional footprint where MEAN operates, including the potential integration of the Mountain West Transmission Group and any possible impacts it may have on MEAN’s Participants.

• Successfully completed Unit Capability Testing on member generation units with nearly 95 percent of the units passing on their first attempts.

• The MEAN Board further refined its Renewable Distributed Generation Policy. MEAN began taking surplus energy from its first project under this policy in Waverly, Iowa.

• The MEAN Executive Committee approved a 1.2 percent rate decrease in long-term wholesale electric energy rates and a 2.2 percent decrease in its overall targeted revenue requirement for its long-term wholesale power participants.

National Public Gas Agency (wholesale natural gas supply)

• Beth Ackland took over leading NPGA after Randy Devine retired as director of wholesale gas operations. Since taking over NPGA, she has been pursuing growth initiatives and getting acquainted with interstate pipeline representatives serving NPGA members. Staff also spent time visiting member communities and developing relationships with new gas suppliers and attending pipeline shipper meetings.

• NPGA signed its first Asset Management Arrangement (AMA) last fall, bringing benefits to three NPGA members. Additional AMA’s are being investigated which will enable NPGA to create potential value out of members’ underutilized pipeline assets.

• Staff closely monitored a proposed surcharge from a pipeline modernization project. The result would have been a combined negative financial impact of more than $200,000 for two NPGA communities. NPGA is staying engaged on the issue and has joined a regional group of pipeline customers to lobby against the proposed surcharge.

• Staff evaluated a couple “pre-pay” opportunities to benefit members. The favorable pricing a pre-pay could provide would be a significant tool for NPGA growth and retention of members.

Public Alliance for Community Energy
(retail natural gas supply)

• ACE successfully advocated to preserve the Nebraska Choice Gas program following the acquisition of the previous program administrator. ACE also had several meetings with Black Hills Energy, the new program administrator, to help improve the program for the benefit of customers.

• ACE’s competitive rates during the 2017 Choice Gas selection period resulted in gaining 22 percent of overall market share. ACE was the natural gas supplier to nearly 18,000 accounts.

• ACE upgraded its software and database to prepare for the 2018 selection period, which occurred in April.

• The ACE Board approved a distribution of $250,000 to its ACE member communities. Overall, ACE has returned more than $2 million to its member communities since it formed — a remarkable achievement.

(Bob Poehling is executive director of NMPP Energy)