"At the Northern California Power Agency, we embrace connectivity by bringing our member utilities together to capture economies of scale and technical expertise in power management, power generation, policy advocacy, and other essential support services."
Connectivity, in today's public power industry, is more important than ever before. In our communities, utilities must connect with their consumers to understand their preferences and meet expectations as technologies evolve at a rapid pace. At the regional level, there is a growing interest in connecting wholesale markets in the West through the energy imbalance market and regionalization. At the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA), we embrace connectivity by bringing our member utilities together to capture economies of scale and technical expertise in power management, power generation, policy advocacy, and other essential support services. This partnership has led to several accomplishments in 2016, and is keeping us out front in our changing industry.
This year, NCPA strengthened the benefits of joint action by establishing the Support Services Program, which provides our member utilities with additional services, such as joint purchasing, engineering services, and transmission and distribution planning. NCPA also created a number of new working groups related to power plants, smart grid, and electric vehicles, and we provided expanded training and internship programs to help achieve our workforce development goals. Through these new initiatives, we are gaining greater efficiencies and cost savings for our member utilities, while fostering more collaboration and knowledge sharing.
NCPA's renewable energy generation plays a significant role in meeting the ambitious clean energy objectives of our member utilities. As such, it is vital that our power generation projects continue to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. In 2016, our geothermal facilities at the Geysers had one of the best operating years in history, with virtually no forced outages, as well as significantly low steam field decline rates. Our hydroelectric project in Calaveras County survived one of the worst droughts on record from the previous year and ended 2016 with more than three times the amount of water in the upper reservoir as we had at the end of 2015.
As always, NCPA is very active working on legislative and regulatory issues that impact public power. Our objective is to promote policies that recognize the authority of our members' local governing boards, and protect their consumers' access to clean, affordable, reliable energy. This year, in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento, NCPA successfully advocated on a number of issues, including net energy metering, grid regionalization, energy imbalance market, and hydroelectric power, to help protect our members' customers from significant cost impacts. We have also been active in shaping the development of the state's post-2020 climate program, which is currently the main focus of California's energy policy.
NCPA has also worked closely with Congress and federal agency officials to better align the costs and benefits of the Central Valley Project (CVP) and ensure the future viability of the federal power resource. We have sought to prevent the disproportionate imposition of costs on power customers under the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, worked to ensure reimbursement for Trinity River bypasses, and actively represented our members in the ongoing CVP cost allocation process to see that future costs for this project are assigned in accordance with the uses and benefits it provides.
"Throughout NCPA's history, joint action has been our strength, and we will build on our successes together to continue to meet the energy needs of the NCPA community."
At the agency, we take great pride in creating a safe, productive work environment, which enables us to better serve our member communities. Due to our preventative approach to safety, which includes monthly plant safety education and annual audits, we have maintained a safety record that is three times better than the industry average. This spring, we also initiated a salary study to ensure our competiveness for the best and brightest workforce.
As NCPA and the rest of the electricity sector in California enter 2017, we face both opportunities and challenges posed by changing technologies, markets, and policies. Throughout NCPA's history, joint action has been our strength, and we will build on our successes together to continue to meet the energy needs of the NCPA community.
Randy S. Howard