Key Account Forum Recap

Thank you to everyone who attended our annual 2019 Key Accounts Forum this October. Each year this event is organized by the key account managers at the Utility: Larry Blaufus, Debbie DePetris, Bill Hibbs, Zeecha Van Hoose and Bart Hansen.

The event introduced Clark County business and organizational leaders to some of the new individuals on the Clark Public Utilities executive leadership team.

In the last couple years, several high-ranking utility personnel have retired after long careers with the utility. Under their guidance, we built a culture committed to delivering the highest levels of customer service possible, providing clean at-cost energy, and distinguishing ourselves as the best mid-sized utility in the nation, as ranked by J.D. Power.

Today a new generation of executives are leading the organization, all of whom have the same commitment to the utility’s core values and its customers as their predecessors did.

In her presentation, CEO/General Manager Lena Wittler reviewed the state the utility, the bright future that lies ahead, and addressed regulatory actions and legislative proposals the organization is monitoring.

Director of Finance Melissa Ankeny introduced herself and reviewed the utility’s healthy financial position and growing customer base. She informed attendees that although it is the prerogative of the utility’s Board of Commissioners to unilaterally raise rates, they haven’t done so since 2011 and the utility’s strong financial position does not indicate that an increase is necessary in 2020. However, it’s wise for customers to budget for an annual 3 percent increase.

Information Services Systems Manager Jeff Groff and Information Technology Lead Systems Engineer June Olson reviewed the utility’s multilayered focus on cybersecurity and offered attendees some helpful tips to keeping their own sensitive information secure.

Director of Engineering Cal Morris reviewed the utility’s work to maintain high system reliability—a crucial aspect of service for key account customers. Clark Public Utilities heavily invests in systematic improvements that fortify the grid. (See outage preparation article.) As a result, when outages occur, they are significantly shorter than the national average.

We look forward to the next Key Account forum in 2020. Please contact your key account manager with any questions on this event or if you would like additional information.

Outage Preparation

Late October to February is storm season in Clark County and it’s when power outages are most frequent.

Trees are responsible for more than half of the service interruptions in the Clark Public Utilities network. High winds, and occasional snow and ice storms pull and break limbs into service lines and transformers. Heavy rains make it easier for trees to topple into lines entirely.

Outages are a fact of life, but we invest heavily in preventative measures throughout the year to reduce their frequency and duration. When they do occur, our crews react quickly and work hard to get the service restored.

“Outage preparation is a year-round effort for us,” said Transmission and Distribution Manager Ben Feliz. “Whether we’re maintaining our network or gearing up for a major storm event, our goal is to be resilient in the face of any challenge.”

The utility operates more than 4,500 miles of electric lines in its 650 square mile service territory. We are constantly working to fortify our network and keep interruptions at a minimum. Every year we invest $1 million in vegetation management perform frequent infrared and physical inspections of lines, substations and equipment and spend $15-$20 million on infrastructure upgrades. That preventative work makes the system more resilient during heavy storm events.

We watch the weather closely and begin preparations before storms move into the area. Our crews are briefed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. We also keep a long list of contracted crews who can be called in, if needed.

Long-term maintenance and on the spot preparations have proved to be a winning combination. While the state and national average power outage durations are 157 minutes and 137 minutes, respectively, our average outage is just under 35 minutes.

But our timeliness also depends on our customers. If there’s an outage in your area, don’t assume we’re aware. Report every outage by calling 360-992-8000 or at clarkpublicutilities.com.

Clark Public Utilities Simplifies Carbon Offsetting

What do Apple, Ikea, 3M, and BMW have in common?

They’ve all pledged to procuring 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, and they’re not alone. Hundreds of companies from here in the Pacific Northwest and around the world are making the transition.
Clark County businesses can potentially offset their entire carbon emissions output by participating in the Clark Public Utilities Green Lights program.

Each block of Green Lights power offsets 100 kWh of energy consumption. Every block purchased supports the development of non-polluting renewable energy resources and directly benefits educational programing for Clark County students.

Participations is voluntary and entirely flexible, organizations can adjust or stop contributions at any time.

For more information or to enroll your company, speak with your key accounts manager today.

Power Quality and Reliability

Power quality and reliability have an integral relationship. For most customers, power quality means a clean and stable power supply that meets their load needs. Utilities in the United States operate under American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard C84.1 and maintain the voltage to within plus or minus 5 percent of the nominal voltage level.

Sometimes though, the power has a voltage variation that can cause problems. These voltage variations include an interruption or a complete loss of voltage, a swell where the voltage is in excess of 110 percent of nominal, and a sag that causes a momentary reduction in voltage.

Voltage sags are the most common events that affect power quality and can occur on both sides of the electric meter.

“Our experience is that when voltage sags occur, the utility usually is blamed,” said Larry Blaufus, senior manager, large industrial accounts at Clark Public Utilities. “Equipment used in modern industrial plants, such as process controllers, PLCs, adjustable speed drives, and robots are more sensitive to voltage sags. As the complexity of the equipment increases and if it is installed without power line conditioning technologies protection, the chances for issues to occur on the customer side of the meter increase.”

The voltage sags on the utility side of the power meter tend to be either man-made or natural events. Common man-made events include switching operations, construction workers damaging buried cables, equipment failures, and traffic accidents. The most common natural causes are storms, trees falling onto power lines, and wildlife.

Sourcing the cause of voltage sags can be difficult. Even experienced power quality experts don’t always agree on the cause. To help trace power quality issues, Clark Public Utilities key accounts and systems engineering staff have teamed up to create a report that is sent to voltage sensitive customers after each PQ event.

“Power acceptability curves are used to understand if the electric power supply is meeting the needs of the load and to signal on which side of the meter to look for a solution,” said Rodney Soft, senior systems engineer at Clark Public Utilities.

Rodney plots the depth of each voltage sag against the duration of the voltage sag after each recorded power quality event to identify where the PQ event falls on the industry-created Computer and Business Equipment Manufacturers Association (CBEMA), CBEMA Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) and Semi F-047 semiconductor industry power acceptability curves.

The curves are designed to identify ways in which system reliability could be provided for electronic equipment. Whether it is computer and business, information technology or semiconductor processing equipment, the power acceptability curves used in this report are standard design targets for sensitive equipment to be applied on the power system and a common format for reporting power quality variation data.

Simply stated, PQ events plotted above the lower line or curve should not impact equipment, and the equipment should continue to operate. If not, consider equipment options that mitigate the impacts or consult the manufacturer for solutions.

If you are having power quality issues at your plant or operation, you should evaluate your equipment performance after each event to review what equipment and processes were impacted and to focus your efforts on getting a full understanding of the problems. It is very important to create a power quality event log for recording the effect of each power quality event (date, time, equipment, equipment voltage, phases, criticality, severity, etc.). Over time this will provide you with the data you need to understand what these PQ events are costing and how much you can invest to correct the problem.

When power quality problems strike, your key account manager is a trusted resource to explore options and resource providers, such as specialty consultants. For more information about power quality or to sign up to receive the PQ Event Report please contact your key account manager.

Sample Report: