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Utility Issues Summit draws regional utility leaders to West Memphis

Friday, November 3, 2017  
Posted by: Kerry Cordray
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Utility Issues Summit draws regional utility leaders to West Memphis

Confronting changing times was the challenge and effective regional collaboration was the focal point, as 55 utility leaders from Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas gathered for a Utility Issues Summit hosted by West Memphis Utilities and MPUA. The fall summit, was held November 1-2 in West Memphis, Arkansas.

Participants gathered the afternoon of November 1 for a panel discussion of spokespersons from Regional Transmission Organizations, reviewing recent agreements and trends for RTO/ISO issues. The MISO and SPP representatives included Kent Fonvielle (Executive Director, MISO South), Elizabeth Solano (MISO Regional Director of External Affairs) and David Kelley (SPP Director, Seams and Market Design).

The morning of November 2 began with a session on Public Power Service Challenges presented by APPA’s Paul Zummo (Director- Policy Research and Analysis, American Public Power Association), showing how changing customer expectations are forcing many utilities to rethink their business models.  

Next, Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas public utility associations joined together to discuss Municipal Collaboration to Meet Evolving Service Challenges. Association leaders Duncan Kincheloe (President, CEO & General Manager, MPUA), Paul Mahlberg (General Manager, Kansas Municipal Electric Agency) and Jason Carter (City Attorney, City of North Little Rock & VP, Arkansas Municipal Power Association), encouraged  the formation of collaborations and effective preparation and plans.

Other sessions for the Morning included a session titled Why Size Doesn’t Matter in a Cyber Attack (Brad Sanders, Information Systems Manager, Conway Corporation; and Brad Luna, Senior Vice President, N-Dimension Solutions, Inc.). Regional Public Power Trends focused on customer installed solar energy systems and small cell pole attachments (Connie Ford, Director, Member Services, MPUA; and Penny Speak, Attorney, Healy Law Offices.)

A noon session on Lineworker Preparedness (Mike Conyers, Director of Lineworker Safety & Training, MPUA) concentrated on nuts & bolts of lineworker training and the benefits of mutual aid. In a final session of the day, Public Power Transmission: Still Not a Level Playing Field (Jason Carter; and Heather Starnes, Attorney, Healy Law Offices) discussed the difficulties smaller public power utilities face in integrating reasonably into RTOs.

“It was a good opportunity to stop, take a step back, and think about how the industry is changing in so many ways,” said George Heintzen, Director of Power Supply & Major Accounts of Conway Corporation. “I hope we can continue the dialogue started here, maybe even having another Summit next year.”



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