Obtaining Approval for a Resiliency Program – Playbook Review Part 5

In part four of this series, we discussed developing a resiliency program plan and how to effectively measure its impact. The next step is to obtain approval. This is the most challenging step of the process and success is not guaranteed. Completing the previous steps in detail with a focus on a clear objective and establishing the financial or ratepayer benefit is crucial.

Approval Process Steps

Here are the steps to obtaining approval:

1. Clarify and document a resiliency program objective, how a resiliency program can support the pursuit of the objective, and preliminary resiliency program plan, including a description of hardening, undergrounding, or other strategies anticipated.

2. Select a preliminary path to pursue approval—Public Utilities Commission (PUC) versus Legislative.

3. Capture and describe outage history and performance.

4. Capture and describe national weather history and demonstrate an increase in severe storm frequency and severity in your service territory.

5. Work with public affairs, rates, and communications groups within the utility to build a community outreach program to describe and position the resiliency program.

6. Identify and/or recruit champions within the PUC or legislature depending on the path chosen.

7. Build a regulatory or legislative approval approach in order to gain approval of the program and cost recovery approach. Cost recovery approaches are listed in chapter 4 of the Utility Infrastructure Resiliency Playbook.

8. Clearly document and incorporate anticipated performance improvement and ratepayer benefits.

9. Clearly forecast ratepayer impacts.

The collection and display of metrics to demonstrate implementation performance and results achieved for the benefit of ratepayers is critical. The reporting frequency is normally dictated by the PUC and annual reporting is most frequently selected. Utilities that have built effective stakeholder communications are reporting much more frequently.

Special Considerations for Undergrounding Strategies

Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Versus Legislative Path to Approval

Resiliency programs that rely on undergrounding strategies have and will continue to receive significant pushback, largely due to the high upfront cost. Ultimately, a utility wanting to pursue these types of programs for the ratepayer benefits in satisfaction and reliability will have to pick a traditional rate case, rider/surcharge, or legislative action. Regardless, a champion of this concept at the regulatory or legislative body is a necessary path. In addition, city, local, or regional government support and ratepayer communications are also required. In the case of a legislative approach, the development of a preliminary bill will require at least one, and preferably a bi-partisan group as a formal sponsor to develop and push the bill.

Severe Outage History

In addition to a champion, a customer satisfaction opportunity and outage history must be present. As is highlighted in Chapter 3 of the Utility Infrastructure Resiliency Playbook, a detailed analysis of outage performance focusing on geography, line, and equipment performance is required. Storm frequency and severity over a 10-year cycle is the financial driver of justification of a resilience program that will include undergrounding strategies.

Download the Playbook

Implementing a resiliency program is a long and multifaceted process—closer to running a marathon rather than a sprint. A well-developed program plan that supports implementation will raise the likelihood of approval and successfully executed construction. The next step of our process is implementing the resiliency program. Download a free copy of PDi2’s Utility Infrastructure Resiliency Playbook for a detailed look at each step, case studies, and links to additional resources.

October 2019

Utility Resiliency Playbook

Developed by PDi2

Mike Beehler

National Spokesperson/PDI2

Mike Beehler has 40 years of electric T&D experience at Tucson Electric Power, Hawaiian Electric Company and Burns & McDonnell.  He is educated as a civil/structural engineer and is a registered professional engineer in eight states.  He currently is the founding member and Chief Opportunity Officer of Mike Beehler & Associates, LLC and serves as the National Spokesperson for the Power Delivery Intelligence Initiative. 

Mike is a Fellow in ASCE and a Member of IEEE and CIGRE.  He has been married for 40 years and has four adult children and some delightful grandchildren.  He lives on Singer Island, FL.

Tony Hemling

Earthgrid
Voting Member PDi2

Troy Helming is a modern-day industrialist and Unicorn founder. He’s an innovator, inventor, author, an elite athlete (invited 4x to compete on American Ninja Warrior), and a clean energy executive. As a creator, he’s founded clean energy & climate-tech companies that have generated more than $30 Billion of economic impact to date and invented 2 technologies that have led to over 60 clean energy patent claims.

LinkedIn

Tim Wagner, Executive Director

Tim Wagner has nearly thirty years of association management experience, including positions as President & CEO, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Director of Finance. He has been instrumental in the financial and program success of several associations in the power, energy, and broadband industries. He has vast experience at national trade associations, including association governance, grant management, workforce development, planned giving, meeting planning, accounting, investment management, employee benefits, building operations, and information systems. Tim is a graduate (summa cum laude) of the University of Virginia, where he presented his thesis on the Economic Impact of the Rural Electrification Administration.

Landry Molimbi

Head of Asset Management and Prysmian Electronics
Prysmian Group North America
Voting Member PDi2

Landry Molimbi is responsible for leading all Asset Management and Product Development activities for High Voltage & Medium Voltage Partial Discharge testing/monitoring services, optical sensing products (DAS, DTS) and innovative solutions for the North America Business Units (High Voltage, Power Distribution, Industrial, Telecom).

In this role, Landry is focused on business development, project management, technical sales support, and Partial Discharge measurement services for the Prysmian Group proprietary and revolutionary PRY-CAM technologies for the asset management of electrical systems, helping utilities increase uptime, asset longevity and safety while reducing maintenance costs & risks.

Landry started his career with General Cable (Silec) in 2007 and joined NKT Photonics in 2011. He moved to the Prysmian Group as Vice President for the Prysmian Electronics BU in 2018.

Born in Paris, France, Landry holds a master’s degree in Engineering from the ENSEM, a school of the National Polytechnic Institute of Lorraine in Nancy. Landry is also a member of various industry committees and an active member of CIGRE.

John W. Fluharty, II

Quanta Services Inc.
Voting Member PDi2

John W Fluharty, II is currently working as part of Quanta Services, Inc.’s (Quanta) underground cable group that performs large underground electrical projects.

Previously Mr. Fluharty was Vice President of Mears Group, Inc. (Mears) a subsidiary of Quanta Services, Inc. He was an owner of Mears until its sale to Quanta in 2000. He managed every division in the company and at the end of his tenure with Mears he focused on business development, asset management, safety and operations for large projects.

Mr. Fluharty is a board member of the Power and Communications Contractor Association (PCCA), and the American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA).

LinkedIn

David Lindsay

Marketing Manager – Energy Borealis Compounds, Inc.
Immediate-past Chairman/Voting Member PDi2

David Lindsay is currently Marketing Manager for the Energy business of Borealis Compounds, Inc. in North America. He has over 20 years in the US wire and cable business, working at manufacturers, non-profit organizations and electrical contractors. His experiences range from research and product development, to manufacturing, construction and installation of EHV cable systems. At Borealis he is responsible for customer and end-use marketing, and strategic planning of all wire and cable related product lines.

David serves on the NEETRAC Advisory Board, is actively involved in IEEE Insulated Conductor Committee and is past US representative to Cigré SC B1. He holds a Bachelors of Materials Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Masters of Business Administration from the University of West Georgia.

LinkedIn

Paul Caronia

Application Technology Leader, Power Cables - DOW
Executive Board/Voting Member PDi2

Paul Caronia, is the global power cable materials application technology leader in the Wire and Cable materials group of The Dow Chemical Company. He is responsible for leading the development and commercialization of new product technology for power cable applications. He has been involved in the development and commercial usage of today’s tree-retardant crosslinked polyethylene used in medium voltage cables, crosslinked polyethylene insulation used in high voltage cables as well as semiconductive compounds and flame retardant compounds. He is a senior member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Power Engineering Society and the IEEE’s Insulated Conductors Committee (ICC) as well as a voting member of the IEEE standard association. As a member of the IEEE ICC, he chairs ICC A7 on power cable jackets which just recently completed revising IEEE Guide P532for Selecting and Testing Jackets for Power, Instrumentation and Control Cables as well as the chair of ICC A6 on accelerated aging of materials used in cable applications. Paul is also a member of CIGRE (International Council on Large Electric Systems) and was a member of working group B1.55 that developed recommendations for submarine cables to 60 kV and is currently a member of working group B2.75 developing an application guide for insulated and un-insulated conductors used on medium and low voltage overhead lines. Is the author of over 40 publications/presentations, has over 12 granted patents and is a recipient of the R&D100 award. He is a graduate of Rutgers University, holding Degrees in Engineering as well as a licensed professional engineer.

LinkedIn

Ben Lanz

Director of Applications Engineering, IMCORP
Chair/Voting Member PDi2

After 20 years in the power cable industry, Mr. Lanz currently holds the position of Director of Applications Engineering at IMCORP and has technical oversight of power cable life cycle consulting. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE Power & Energy Society, a voting member of the IEEE Standards Society, and a member of the IEEE Dielectrics and Industrial Applications Societies. He has served as Chairman of the Insulated Conductors Committee (ICC) technical committees responsible for cable testing, cable reliability and surge arresters, Chairman of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) O&M Balance of Plant technical subcommittee, a UL technical study committee member for MV and HV DC cables and is a reviewer and voting pool member for InterNational Electrical Testing Association (NETA) standards. Mr. Lanz received his electrical engineering degree from the University of Connecticut (UCONN) under mentorship of Director of the Institute of Material Science Electrical Insulation Research Center (EIRC), Dr. Matthew Mashikian. He has published over a dozen papers on power system reliability, asset management, and diagnostics and regularly presents on the topics.