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Lineworker Appreciation Day Honors the Industry’s Extraordinary Men and Women

​America’s lineworkers play a key role in providing the safe and reliable energy customers need, building the smarter energy infrastructure that powers our energy future, and responding safely, swiftly, and efficiently when storms and other disasters strike. On July 10, EEI joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) in celebrating National Lineworker Appreciation Day and saluting the nation’s nearly 75,000 electrical lineworkers.

“The nation’s lineworkers are the face of America’s electric companies and often work in dangerous and difficult conditions to provide reliable and safe power to customers,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “Lineworkers are heroes and are among the first responders in the wake of storms and other disasters. The 2017 hurricane season was a massive and unprecedented undertaking, and I am proud of our nation’s lineworkers who pulled together and answered the call for help in Texas, the Southeast, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. We are grateful to these dedicated men and women, and they truly are deserving of this recognition and our appreciation.”

“Lineworker Appreciation Day is a reminder of the sacrifices made by America’s electrical workers who perform difficult and dangerous jobs to light up this nation,” IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson said. “Without lineworkers’ skill and determination in keeping the lights on and the power flowing, our country literally could not function,” said UWUA President Mike Langford. “Today we say ‘thank you’ to all the line crews who give their all every day so that the rest of us can enjoy safe, healthy communities.”

Lineworkers demonstrate extraordinary skill and determination every day. See highlights of their outstanding commitment on EEI’s Delivering the Future site. Read EEI’s Lineworker Appreciation Day press release and a joint op-ed by Kuhn, Langford, and Stephenson.

EEI's member companies and their organized labor partners have created initiatives to train the industry workforce of tomorrow, including Troops to Energy Jobs, the Utility Industry Workforce Initiative, the Veterans Electrical Entry Program, and Helmets to Hardhats. Learn about lineworker careers from the Center for Energy Workforce Development, IBEW, and UWUA​. See lineworkers in action restoring power to the people of Puerto Rico in EEI's video​.

Powering Mobility
Powering Mobility
Electric Vehicle Sales Rise 40 Percent in 2018
A new EEI report shows that electric vehicle (EV) sales continue to rise, growing 40 percent in 2018 compared to this time last year. The second quarter of 2018 was the strongest on record, with 69,000 EVs sold in the United States.
 
Approximately 890,000 EVs have been sold since 2010, and EV sales continue to rise despite comparatively low gasoline prices. EEI's report notes that the average price to charge an EV is approximately $1.20 per gallon on an equivalent basis.
 
Electric companies are partnering with many stakeholders to support the growth of EVs and to provide
the needed charging infrastructure in America’s cities and communities. Transportation electrification offers numerous benefits for customers and communities, including increased efficiency, improved sustainability, economic growth, and energy security. Learn more in EEI's factsheet and find additional resources here.
In the News
In the News
EEI’s Scott Aaronson on Protecting Critical Energy Infrastructure

​Protecting the energy grid is the electric power industry’s top priority, and electric companies work every day to improve grid security, reliability, and resiliency. EEI Vice President of Security and Preparedness Scott Aaronson participated in a panel discussion hosted by George Washington University's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security exploring how electric companies work to mitigate threats and coordinate with partners in government. 

Aaronson explained that electric companies’ investments in smarter energy infrastructure are benefiting customers by enabling companies to respond and recover faster from outages caused by severe weather, and that the industry’s preparations to respond to malicious attacks parallel its planning for natural disasters. “We can’t protect every asset against every threat all the time, so we look at threats to our most critical infrastructure holistically through an all-hazards approach," said Aaronson. “This is about the life, health, and safety of our customers, and about national and economic security. Protecting this infrastructure is our obligation, as the owners and operators of critical infrastructure, for the benefit of the United States, and it’s something we take very seriously.”

Brian Harrell, managing director of enterprise protective services, Duke Energy; Chris Peters, vice president and chief security officer, Entergy Corporation; and Joe Sagona, senior director of cybersecurity for Pacific Gas and Electric Company, gave examples of how they protect their businesses’ assets and customers. They were joined by government leaders who stressed the value of the industry-government partnership for protecting critical infrastructure.

Watch the event here. Read more about the electric power industry’s cyber and physical security initiatives on EEI’s website and in EEI’s factsheet​.

Photo (L to R): Frank Cilluffo, director, Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, George Washington University; Jeanette Manfra, assistant secretary, Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, Department of Homeland Security; Patricia Hoffman, principal deputy assistant secretary, Office of Electricity, Department of Energy; Brian Harrell, managing director, enterprise protective services, Duke Energy; Joe Sagona, senior director, cybersecurity, Pacific Gas and Electric; ​Chris Peters, vice president and chief security officer, Entergy Corporation; and Scott Aaronson, vice president, security and preparedness, EEI.

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Technology Leadership
Technology Leadership
Electric Companies Announce Energy Storage Investments

​The electric power industry uses more than 90 percent of all energy storage in the country, and investment in advanced energy storage is growing rapidly, with an estimated 280 megawatts (MW) installed in 2017 alone, up 400 percent from 2014. For electric companies and their customers, energy storage provides multiple benefits: it facilitates the integration of renewable energy resources into the energy grid by keeping supply and demand balanced; helps to improve electric reliability by providing grid stability services; reduces transmission constraints; and meets peak demand.

In California, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has proposed four advanced battery energy storage systems that would total approximately 567 MW. “Energy storage plays an increasingly important role in California’s clean energy future, and while it has been a part of PG&E’s power mix for decades—starting with the Helms Pumped Storage Plant in the 1980s—recent decreases in battery prices are enabling energy storage to become a competitive alternative to traditional solutions,” said Roy Kuga, vice president, grid integration and innovation, PG&E. “We believe that battery energy storage will be even more significant in enhancing overall grid reliability, integrating renewables, and helping customers save energy and money.”

Arizona Public Service (APS) also is investing in advanced energy storage to deliver more clean energy to customers cost-effectively. APS plans to equip existing solar power plants with up to 106 MW of battery storage, enabling APS’s existing solar resources to help meet peak customer demand, even when the sun is not shining. Arizona also will become home to one of the country’s largest battery storage systems when a new 50-MW solar-powered battery comes online in 2021 through an APS partnership with First Solar.

What We're Reading
What We're Reading
Consumers Energy's Patti Poppe on Transportation Electrification

​“Last year, EEI and the Institute for Electric Innovation forecast that up to 7 million EVs will be traveling on U.S. roads by the end of 2025,” writes Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe in the latest issue of Electric Perspectives. “Change is coming fast to the automotive industry, and to the energy industry, too. Innovations in renewable energy and battery storage already are game changers, but the transition from gasoline-based engines to EVs is just as transformative.

“We’re excited about the electrification of the automotive industry. We also must be determined to help get it right for our customers. The decisions Consumers Energy and other electric companies make in the coming years will help determine the pace of customer adoption of EVs.”

Read more.

Driving Diversity
Driving Diversity
Electric Companies Embrace Diversity and Inclusion

EEI’s member companies have made great strides in diversity and inclusion (D&I) over the last two decades and have received many accolades for their achievements. Under the leadership of former EEI Chairman Pat Vincent-Collawn, chairman, president, and CEO, PNM Resources, EEI's Board of Directors endorsed a D&I Commitment that will help electric companies build the workforce of tomorrow, make D&I more institutionalized and systemic, create long-term plans that achieve specific goals, and apply metrics to measure success. ​

“We need to continue what we’ve started,” says Vincent-Collawn in the latest issue of Electric Perspectives. The industry must “monitor our progress and hold ourselves accountable. Today we know that a diverse and inclusive workforce is a business imperative. The workplace must reflect its community.”​

The EEI D&I Commitment, endorsed by EEI's Board of Directors in June, is an​ industrywide effort to develop the next-generation energy workforce—one with diverse, highly skilled, and qualified employees capable of delivering on the responsibility to meet customers’ evolving energy needs. By supporting the commitment, EEI member companies have pledged to take specific actions to advance this important initiative or to confirm that they already have taken these actions.​

Read more​.

Next-Generation Workforce
Next-Generation Workforce
El Paso Electric Interns Learn, Work, and Give Back

​Each summer, El Paso Electric (EPE) gives an elite group of college and high school students hands-on professional experience and an opportunity to give back to their community. In addition to work that prepares them for fulfilling careers, EPE interns plan, develop, and execute a company-wide program called the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiative. 

For 2018, EPE’s interns are developing a project addressing substance abuse through a partnership with Aliviane, an El Paso nonprofit that offers treatment and recovery programs to west Texas. The interns are working toward a fundraising goal of $12,000, to be donated to Aliviane for the renovation of its facility, and created an “Awareness Week” series of events at EPE’s headquarters to educate company employees about substance abuse and mental health. EPE employee volunteers will join the interns in painting, refurbishing, and repairing sections of Aliviane’s facility at the end of the summer.

Through the annual CSR Initiative, EPE’s interns learn valuable lessons about teamwork and project management that will help them in college and beyond. In past years, EPE interns raised money to help furnish a new building for El Paso’s Center Against Sexual and Family Violence.

Community Connection
Community Connection
Electric Companies Support Healthy Pollinator Habitats

​Electric companies own and operate infrastructure of breathtaking scale and complexity and are working to ensure that their infrastructure promotes a healthy environment. FirstEnergy exemplifies this approach: the company employs integrated vegetation management practices across its transmission corridors to establish habitats where pollinators can thrive.

Pollinators—including birds, butterflies, moths, bees, and more—play a vital role in supporting many ecosystems and agricultural economies. Protecting pollinators helps to promote clean air, prevent soil erosion, support healthy flora and fauna, and secure critical infrastructure. 

In 2017, FirstEnergy participated in a research project with the Electric Power Research Institute and the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry to better understand plant species in transmission line corridors that could help rejuvenate declining pollinator populations. The company also sponsored and participated in the Monarch Right of Way project with Ohio State University-Mansfield along another transmission corridor. 

“FirstEnergy has a long history of environmental stewardship, and we are constantly looking for ways to improve our vegetation management practices to create the best overall environment, including promoting and protecting habitats for pollinators and other animals," said Becky Spach, FirstEnergy director of vegetation management. "FirstEnergy maintains approximately 14,000 miles of transmission line corridors, and managing vegetation in these rights-of-way that is both low-growing and pollinator-friendly can help sustain a healthy population of bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects.” 

Electric companies promote healthy pollinators in their daily operations as well. In June, employees of Westar Energy, an Evergy company, were alerted to the presence of a honeybee hive within a wooden power pole that was being replaced. Westar workers carefully removed a section of the pole to allow the bees and their hive to be transported to a new home.

Clean Energy
Clean Energy
Electric Companies Team Up on Solar Energy in Wisconsin

​Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) and WEC Energy Group’s Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) have announced a partnership to invest approximately $390 million in two universal, or large-scale, solar power plants that will provide 300 megawatts (MW) of energy in Wisconsin. 

“This is another step forward as we move toward a more sustainable energy future,” said Jeff Keebler, MGE president and CEO. “These projects align with MGE's short- and long-term carbon reduction goals. If approved, we look forward to the opportunity to grow cost-effective, clean energy to reliably serve our customers into the future.”

“Investing in these solar projects is the first step in our overall plan to add solar capacity to our generation portfolio and save WPS customers more than $100 million over the economic lives of the projects, compared to projected prices in the power market,” said Gale Klappa, CEO of WPS. 

If approved by regulators by the end of 2018, operation of the solar power plants could begin by the end of 2020.

Electric companies are changing the nation’s energy mix: since 2007, the mix of resources used to generate electricity in the United States has changed dramatically and is increasingly clean. Today, more than one-third of electricity comes from zero-emissions sources (nuclear and hydropower and other renewables). Electric companies own 69 percent of solar in the United States, and their universal solar projects accounted for 59 percent of solar capacity installed in 2017. And, electric companies account for nearly all the geothermal, hydropower, and wind capacity deployed on the energy grid.

Inside EEI
Inside EEI
EEI's Brian Wolff Graduates from Presidential Leadership Scholars Program
Brian Wolff, EEI executive vice president, public policy and external affairs, has completed the Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) program. The yearlong course invites Scholars to tackle personal leadership projects and apply skills developed by studying the leadership of past presidents and key officials from their administrations. Earlier in July, Wolff and his fellow members of the Class of 2018 were recognized by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at a ceremony in Little Rock.
 
"Congratulations to Brian for graduating from the PLS program. We are all proud of your accomplishments," said EEI President Tom Kuhn.
What We're Watching
Duke Energy’s Efforts to Restore Power to Puerto Rico
What We're Watching
Company Spotlight
Company Spotlight
O&R’s Energy Grid Investments Benefit Customers
Orange and Rockland Utilities (O&R), a subsidiary of Con Edison, has invested $140 million in 2018 to strengthen the reliability and security of the energy grid for customers, building upon nearly $1 billion the company has invested in maintenance and reliability projects over the past 10 years. 

These energy grid upgrades include:
  • ​Building new substations, like the $26-million Deerpark substation, that meet customers’ growing needs for energy while enhancing reliability;
  • Undergrounding equipment at system-critical locations and installing taller, stronger poles; and
  • Siting additional electric circuits where appropriate.
Smart meters, which give customers greater choice and control over their energy use and allow electric companies to pinpoint the source of outages, are a key component of O&R’s energy grid upgrades to promote reliability and resiliency. The company has installed approximately 120,000 electric smart meters so far, with plans for installations to reach 230,000 in O&R’s New York service territory and 74,000 in New Jersey by the end of 2020. O&R also has implemented operational techniques, including proactive system maintenance and construction, equipment testing, infrared inspections, tree-trimming, system monitoring, and rapid response to potential service continuity threats, as part of the company’s strategy to deliver safe, reliable energy to customers.

O&R’s smart grid investments to improve reliability and resiliency for customers illustrate a major emphasis for the electric power industry: since Superstorm Sandy in 2012, investor-owned electric companies have invested more than $230 billion in their transmission and distribution systems, and electric companies invest more than $100 billion each year to build smarter energy infrastructure and to transition to even cleaner energy resources. 

Innovative Solutions
Innovative Solutions
IEI’s Lisa Wood on Unlocking the Value of Data Analytics

​Electric companies are employing advanced data analytics techniques to unlock value for customers, communities, employees, and shareholders. Lisa Wood, vice president of customer solutions at EEI and executive director of the Institute for Electric Innovation, writes in the latest issue of Electric Perspectives:

“A decade of investment in smarter energy infrastructure has allowed electric companies to begin to leverage data to develop a more resilient, reliable, and flexible energy grid. Increasingly, the energy grid of the future will use digital solutions to manage electricity supply, integrate distributed energy resources, accelerate electric transportation, and achieve operational and service excellence for customers.”

Read more.

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