June 20 Utilities Board Meeting Recap


Talley Completes Board Term, Anderson Begins, PNM Electric Transmission Rates Rise, Conservation Plan Update and More…

Board Changes: Board Member Thurman Talley served his last Board of Public Utilities meeting June 20 and new Board Member Kevin Anderson was in attendance.

Utility Manager Report: Department of Public Utilities Manager John Arrowsmith reported that environmental work at the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) was proceeding while the PNM‐led stay continued to be considered.

On behalf of the County, the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities owns 7 percent of Unit 4 at the San Juan Generating Station, producing roughly 36 megawatts per year on behalf of County ratepayers, including Los Alamos National Laboratory.

There are eight other owners of the SJGS including the largest, PNM.

Arrowsmith also reported on a meeting with a consultant representing the city and county of Santa Fe as they consider municipalization of their electric utility.

When the subject of the SJGS came up in this meeting, Arrowsmith explained to the Santa Fe representative that DPU dollars spent on SJGS environmental work are dolllars not spent on renewables for the Los Alamos County power mix.

Arrowsmith said that he met with Gov. Susana Martinez’ chief of staff to discuss the governor’s possible attendance at the Los Alamos ribbon‐cutting ceremony for the Collaborative NEDO/Los Alamos Smart Grid Demonstration project.

He also described power outage details for the recent North Mesa outage and updated the Board on the renewal of the Electric Coordination Agreement between DOE and the DPU.

Arrowsmith shared an article from the American Public Power Association on Effective Governance of Public Utilities highlighting its relevance for countering proposed changes to the Utilities chapter of the Los Alamos County Charter.

Board members are slated to discuss proposed charter changes with Council Aug. 21.

Safety: Presentation on County Process for Collecting and Reporting Injuries by Risk Manager Joe Thomas.

Because the Board and DPU leadership are focused on safety at each month’s meetings, Thomas was invited to share educational information about reporting procedures for accidents and other safety and risk reduction practices.

Risk Management provides several safety reports to the Board including reported injuries, tort claims filed, and an OSHA Incident Rate Report.

Sample documents showing how employees report injuries and showing how that data is collected through the forms to generate the reports were included in the Board’s agenda documentation, which is available to the public.

Board member David Powell asked if safety reports were thoroughly reported by staff, inquiring if there was a cultural bias not to report.

Thomas, as well as Deputy Utility Manager Rafael de La Torre affirmed that no such bias appears to exist, describing tailgating, briefing and reporting activity among staff. De La Torre cited the recent North Mesa outage for its safety practices as  well.

Water and Energy Conservation Program Update: By Christine Chavez. Data extraction issues will be affecting completion date of the Conservation Plan, as multi‐family units continue to be accurately isolated, reported Chavez.

Once complte, the Conservation Plan will fulfill requirements from the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer via their Gallons Per Capita Per Day (GPCD) benchmarks.

The Plan will also conform to resource management guidelines promulgated by the Western Area Power Administration.

Chavez reported that DPU’s collaboration with the Pajarito Environmental Education Center continues to flourish, accomplishing strong outreach and education on conservation issues to the community’s youth.

In the previous year, the DPU educational materials on energy conservation have reached approximately 400 elementary students; on water conservation, 185  elementary students.

An outreach plan for middle school students is underway. Chavez also reported that over the last year she has completed 94 individualized home energy and/or water conservation audits with plans for more continuing.

“The residential demand for these informative audits continues strongly,” she said.

Electric Transmission Rates: Approval of the Third Revised Network Integration Transmission Service Agreement (NITSA) and the Third Revised Network Operating Agreement (NOA) between Los Alamos County and Public Service Company of New Mexico – Steve Cummins.

In PNM’s rate case requesting a 75 percent increase to electric transmission rates, there were six interveners, including the DPU, stated Cummins.

The case settled prior to court at roughly a 35 percent rate increase.

Electric transmission rates are computed for Los Alamos based on load, not in terms of miles of transmission line.

Cummins said the overall cost to DPU of the increase would be approximately $280,000 or about $56,000 per year for the DPU retail segment, as the majority of power purchased and transmitted goes to LANL.

The Board voted 5‐0 affirmative to pass the transmission settlement rate increase along to Council for final approval.

Approval of Year‐end Budget Adjustments: By Janet Bettinger. A budget adjustment for this fiscal year was made to accommodate a project slated for next fiscal year, but which began early in this fiscal year, and an adjustment to accommodate a 10‐year environmental insurance policy premium for the water production system was made.

The adjustment caused no impact to utility rates.

Three Service Agreements Approved: Tree trimming services, well repair services, and condition assessment services for the hydroelectric plants were all approved 5‐0 by the Board.

The agreements were awarded as follows:

  • Award of RFP 2012‐1835 for Tree Trimming and Removal Services – Rafael De La Torre.
  • Approval of Services Agreement AGR13‐3885 with Alpha Southwest, Inc. for Repair of Pajarito Well 4 – Tim Glasco.
  • Approval of Services Agreement AGR 13‐3888 with Knight Piesold and Co. for the Abiquiu Hydrolectric Plant and El Vado Hydroelectric Plant Condition Assessment – James Alarid.

A podcast summary of the Board of Public Utilities meeting is available here: http://deptofpublicutilities.libsyn.com/


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