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IAMU Member Utilities Partner With Iowa One Call For 8-11 Day

Posted By IAMU, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Several utilities partnered with Iowa One Call this year on August 11th to educate and promote 8-11 day, Call Before You Dig.  Here are several photos from one such event that was held in Orange City and promoted by Bryan Gerritson, Public Works Director.  This was a fun way to go out into the field to meet with contractors/excavators, and to promote excavation safety and underground damage prevention.  Ben Booth at Iowa One Call does this type of event a couple times a year – when they go out to work sites and visit with contractors; they typically take along some ‘811 cookies’ to hand out to the crews, after which they ask the crews to pose with the banner for photos, which they then publish/post on our website and other publications.

   
   

Tags:  811  8-11 Day  Iowa One Call  Safety 

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ApprenticeshipUSA: Building a Skilled American Workforce - IAMU Participates

Posted By IAMU, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

 

Apprenticeships are a tried and true workforce development strategy that has paid dividends for companies who use the program. Employers that utilize apprentices report higher productivity, higher retention rates and a substantial return on investment. There is a critical need to replace the retiring workforce with skilled workers.  Apprenticeships serve as an opportunity to grow your own, developing the right kind of talent for companies and utility across the United States (U.S.).

In order for the country to meet its workforce needs and to help U.S. companies maintain a competitive advantage in the global economy, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) is committed to expanding the availability of apprenticeship to more businesses and workers across the country.

The Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) has been asked by the USDOL to be a national leader and to join the USDOL in a campaign to expand apprenticeships across the U.S. This is due to the IAMU Electric Line Mechanic Apprenticeship Program.  The department’s ApprenticeshipUSA initiative will engage businesses across all industries to discuss the value of apprenticeships and to encourage greater adoption of the workforce strategy.  IAMU has agreed to be 1 of 3 Iowa companies and 1 of only 135 companies in the U.S. to become an ApprenticeshipUSA Leader.

Key goals of ApprenticeshipUSA include:

• Transforming the image of Apprenticeship
• Recruiting Leaders and Champions to promote Apprenticeship in new industries and advance innovative Apprenticeship models
• Creating mechanisms and infrastructure to support industry-based expansion efforts
• Building public-private partnerships and other mechanisms to accelerate apprenticeship adoption and innovation

How does IAMU benefit from being an ApprenticeshipUSA Leader?

• Receiving national recognition as a leader in addressing the national and industry challenges of developing a skilled workforce
• Shaping the direction of apprenticeship expansion in our industry and local area
• Learning from peer networks, advice and best practices from other employer Leaders across our industry and across the country
• Receiving customized technical assistance and support from a network of apprenticeship staff and consultants

Apprenticeship programs are an employer-driven training model that combines on-the-job learning with related classroom instruction to increase an apprentice’s skill level, opportunities, and wages.  There has never been a better time for a utility to start developing their staffs education and skills in the IAMU Electric Apprenticeship Program.   Graduates of IAMU apprenticeship program earn a national, industry-recognized credential.  This means your employee has met a national and independent standard for quality and rigor.  Participation in the apprenticeship program tells your customers and suppliers that you invest in your workforce and that you believe your employees are your most important asset!

IAMU has been invited by the Secretary of Labor, Thomas E. Perez, as a critical stakeholder and leader for Registered Apprenticeship, to an invitation-only ApprenticeshipUSA Summit at the White House on September 8th then a separate Capitol Hill Congressional Event on September 9th in continued support of the expansion of Registered Apprenticeship in the U.S.  IAMU is extremely proud of our apprenticeship program and will be participating at the Summit and Congressional event.

Tags:  ApprenticeshipUSA  DOL  Electric 

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August APGA Washington Update

Posted By IAMU, Tuesday, September 1, 2015

 

provided by the American Public Gas Association (APGA) 

Congress is scheduled to return to session the second week of September after the August recess and at the top of the list for both chambers are the Iran Nuclear Deal, Planned Parenthood, government funding, and the debt ceiling. These issues seem poised to dominate headlines if not the floor time of both houses. Despite these high profile issues, which are magnified by the presidential campaign, there are a number of energy issues that may be considered including comprehensive energy legislation, pipeline safety, the highway bill, and various energy issues on the regulatory front.

Foremost among them, are the comprehensive energy bills in the Senate and the House, which both remain bipartisan. The Senate bill was passed out of committee, while the House bill is still under committee consideration. Both House and Senate Republicans would like to include prohibitions on President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and approve the Keystone XL pipeline—a non-starter for the President and Democrats. Less high profile issues, but controversial ones such as allowing the export of crude oil and blocking the Water of the United States (WOTUS) rule, are also on Republicans’ wish list. These are unlikely to be approved by Democrats in Congress or the President, though.

In terms of natural gas issues, both bills contain provisions of interest. The House energy bill contains language that would require the Department of Energy (DOE) to consider separate product classes based on BTU input and would prevent DOE from promulgating a final regulation before July 1, 2016.  However, the approved language does not include the major issues APGA has been advocating for including repeal of section 433 or the building energy codes language from H.R.1273.  These provisions were included in previous versions of the legislation and were supported by numerous organizations. 

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved their comprehensive energy bill on July 30.  The bill contains provisions that would delay the final rule to eliminate non-condensing furnaces.  The language would suspend the DOE proposed rule, require a study on a nationwide condensing standard, and then require a negotiated rulemaking.

Another key provision is one that would repeal the ban on fossil fuel-generated energy use in federal buildings and replace it with stakeholder-negotiated energy efficiency measures for those buildings. A third provision in the bill includes language to further identify, explore, assess, and develop methane hydrates as a commercially viable source of energy.  

The fourth provision of note is Senator Alexander’s (R-Tenn.) Vehicle Innovation Technologies amendment language included during the mark-up debate.  This language will direct more funding for the research and commercialization of new vehicle technologies.  The natural gas vehicle market is specifically mentioned in the language.  

In addition to the Murkowski-Cantwell energy bill, the Portman-Shaheen energy bill was voted out of committee.  The Portman-Shaheen energy bill is considered uncontroversial and has also been incorporated into the Murkowski-Cantwell energy bill.  However, because the Murkowski-Cantwell energy bill is considerably larger and includes a wide range of energy titles, Chairman Murkowski agreed to let the Portman-Shaheen energy bill be considered concurrently by the full Senate.  This is important because the repeal of section 433 is written into both bills.  If the larger Murkowski-Cantwell energy bill gets stalled in debate, there will still be a second legislative opportunity with the Portman-Shaheen energy bill.        

One other important item for APGA members is pipeline safety, which is scheduled to expire in September. Pipeline Safety has largely been on the back burner in both chambers which have been preoccupied with other matters despite the looming deadline. However, the House Energy and Power Subcommittee did hold a hearing on pipeline safety in July. During the hearing, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) which represents interstate pipelines testified in writing and orally during the hearing that user fees are not being paid by pipeline customers and therefore Congress should change the user fee system. Most likely, INGAA envisions a system in which their fewer than 50 members no longer collect user fees and instead the thousands of LDCs collect them and send them to the federal government which would be inefficient. APGA has pushed back hard on INGAA’s assertion holding a number of meetings with House Energy and Power Subcommittee and full committee staff and sending a letter on July 21 detailing our concerns. APGA will continue to work with the relevant committees to maintain the current efficient and effective user fee system.

The Surface Transportation Reauthorization, also known as the Highway Bill, will undoubtedly receive congressional attention. The Highway Bill provides funding for roads, bridges, mass transit, and other programs. Just before the August recess, Congress passed a three-month extension of funding of these programs giving it viability through the end of October. Within this legislation, the liquefied natural gas (LNG) excise tax inequality was finally remedied. Prior to passage of this legislation, LNG was taxed on a per gallon basis. This means that it was taxed 70 percent more than diesel due to the energy content difference between the fuels. The Highway Bill provision changed how the tax was levied to be on an energy equivalent basis, thereby bringing parity in taxation between diesel and LNG. Moving forward, the Highway Bill will likely be sorted out given the high profile issues of government spending and the debt ceiling that will have Congress’ attention in late 2015.

Lastly, on August 6, APGA and several Kentucky public natural gas systems sent a letter to Chairman Rogers (R-Ky.) of the House Appropriations Committee urging opposition to what was included within the fiscal year 2016 Transportation Appropriations Bill passed by the Senate that directs the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to re-evaluate its pipeline safety user fee collection allocation system.

In the letter, APGA and the Kentucky public natural gas systems state that “pushing the user fee collections from few pipeline companies onto thousands of LDCs and industrial customers would be wildly inefficient and would create a bureaucratic nightmare.” The letter also communicates that if pipelines need to increase their rates because of escalating user fees, there is already a mechanism to address this potential issue as they can file under Section 4 of the Natural Gas Act at FERC to ask for a rate increase. Historically, pipeline rate increases to accommodate an increase in user fees have not been turned down by FERC.

Both the House and Senate have versions of the fiscal year 2016 Transportation Appropriations Bill and the legislation will now go to a conference committee to resolve differences between the two bills. The bill passed by the House did not contain language directing a re-evaluation of the pipeline safety user fee allocation and collection.

For questions on this article, please contact Dave Schryver of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-2742 or by email at 
dschryver@apga.org

Tags:  APGA  Washington Update 

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Phase I of SMU Water Plant Construction Complete

Posted By IAMU, Tuesday, September 1, 2015

 

Phase I of Spencer Municipal Utilities new water plant is complete.
Read the full details on the construction in the Spencer Daily Reporter article HERE.

Tags:  Spencer  Water Plant Construction 

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Toolbox Talk - Compressed Air Systems Piping

Posted By IAMU, Monday, August 31, 2015

 

Compressed air is versatile and adaptable; it easily flows through pipes and valves, quickly filling a space. It can be compressed to higher pressures, stored as energy, and used to perform many types of work processes. Compressed air is considered a power source like gas, electricity and water, and is often referred to as the fourth utility. 12% of all industrial electricity consumption is to produce compressed air.

Pressurized air in piping, though safe and useful, can be dangerous if your system is not designed with approved components.

Thermoplastics, such as PVC, are not recommended for use in compressed air applications due to its highly crystalline structure. Under pressure, air will compress, generating a high potential energy.  Both the ANSI/CAGI B19.1, Safety Standard for Air Compressor Systems and the Compressed Air and Gas Institute’s reference book, the Compressed Air and Gas Handbook, are the recognized industry safety standards and prohibit the use of PVC piping for compressed air. OSHA has also published a Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB) that restates the prohibition of using this material in pressurized systems.

OSHA requires that the nozzle pressure of an air gun used for cleaning purposes remain below 30 psi for all static conditions. This type of nozzle is called a pressure-reducing  safety nozzle. Ensure that ‘water hose’ clamps are never used in place of quick disconnect air couplings.

  

 Always wear the appropriate eye and hearing protection when working compressed air.  Never use compressed air to clean your clothes or body.

·Pressurized piping should be located away from passageways were vehicles or forklifts could come in contact with it but still be accessible for maintenance.

·Don’t forget to install pressure relief valves between the compressor and shut-off valves to prevent over pressurization.

·Regard with caution and do not use unless properly trained.

 

 

 

Tags:  Compressed Air  JT&S  Safety  Toolbox Talk 

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