Thursday, March 10, 2016

APPA Rally trip - Part Uno.

I was honored to be selected (no one else raised their hand) to attend the APPA (American Public Power Assc) with the Mayor to represent Columbus in Washington DC and it was a learning experience on many levels.

Wisconsin had the largest contingent in Washington which shows how much we want to get away from winter.  There  were about 700 total in attendance from all over America with about 70 representing 26 communities from Wisconsin.  Strength in numbers and my job was to be a number. . and try to keep my mouth shut which I did fairly well unless you were from a foreign country and did not have a clue what I was saying and were now frightened.  (more on that later).

The reason we were out there was to make sure a few key federal issues were being taken seriously.  A few of the concerns that were talked about were:

Tax-exempt Muni Financing.
    It seems there is talk about limiting tax-exempt financing to municipal governments for creating and fixing infrastructure and clean energy which would raise rates if we do not get this break.  With politicians looking for ways to cut the deficit, getting rid of this tax breaks COULD be a way which would hurt utilities a LOT.  For a city like Columbus and the work we have planned we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Clean Power Plan Reliability Concerns
    There is a lot of talk about getting rid of all coal plants as a way to clean the environment which sounds like a grand plan but there are problems in Wisconsin.  Yes, it would be GREAT to get rid of all coal plants but logistically in Wisconsin it would be a nightmare . . . . or not.

The argument is a very good one.  Wisconsin depends on coal. The idea is to switch to natural gas, wind and solar as a way to clean things up.  But in Wisconsin we do not have the pipe lines and our soil is not conducive to large underground national gas storage.  It was said that if we have another polar vortex (which I cringed every time that was mentioned because there is ALWAYS a polar vortex - I'll explain "polar vortex sometime - it's actually interesting) solar/wind/gas would not be enough to keep up with demand.

Remember - energy is a NEVER FAIL commitment. If it's not sunny and there is no wind can gas keep up?  No! It does not meet Six Sigma (data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects).  We need coal to fill in the gaps.

HOWEVER - while this all made sense I personally believe that in the next 15 years there will be a huuuuge development in battery storage which will make wind/solar much MUCH more viable option.

Another talking side point was Flint and their water crisis.  The point was let's not have the Fed overreact with new rules.  Flint was a Water Chemistry 101 brain fart. This was not a lead lateral problem but a water chemistry problem.  It is like dealing with asbestos - the BEST thing to do is not touch it until you HAVE too. Asbestos is typically covered with layers and layers or dust, dirt and grim. Don't touch it an all is fine (my brothers company  deals asbestos all the time) with lead it's covered with layers of calcium and so forth, until you change the water chemistry which then delaminates the protection. Don't fix unless there is a problem.

I did not attend the BIG APPA geek-out meetings but did attend the regional WPPI meetings and we met with Congressman Grothman staff, Tyler Houlton, Chief of Staff and Rachel Ver Velde, Deputy Chief of Staff (who grew up in Columbus).

Then the next day we met with Tammy Baldwin, Ron Johnson and a rep from Paul Ryans staff.   I was very impressed with Congressman Grothman's staff, Tammy Baldwin and actually the rep from Paul Ryan's staff.  And that was my official business.

On a personal note  . . . . I had my camera. :-)

One of the biggest lessons I learned was when the staff and the Grand Hyatt ask you if you want a inside facing room or an outside facing room . . . . do NOT take the outside facing room.

I was facing out on the 2nd floor above the garbage bins.  Monday morning I am woken up with BAM BAM CLANG CLANG BEEP BEEP BEEP CLANG CLANG BAM BAM and figured it must be nearing 7:00.  I look and . . IT'S FREAKING FOUR IN THE MORNING.    Happened every day I was there.

I'll get to my personal adventures in the next parts. I took 461 camera photos of 150 subjects and another 100 on my iPhone but have not had a real chance to look at what I got yet.

Monday I took 29,600 steps and Tuesday 20,400.  I visited MANY things  . . briefly.  One of the images I have had a chance to look at was a shot from the Korean War Memorial.

There is a field of these solders and a black wall like the Vietnam Memorial but it looked like a big black slab.  

But when you looked at it there was something on it.  When you got close there were ghostly images.  I waited for a school class to leave and in a 5 second space I managed to get this shot with no actual humans.

I have a LOT of photos of the entire trip and learned a few things.

Escalators.  You have the right side for standing and riding (30% of people do this) and the left side is for walking up or down (70% of people do this).  Almost everybody walks up or down escalators. Not many people ride.

When visiting DC  - wear a rope belt and never carry change! You are always taking off your belt. Ronald McDonald House must make a mint in DC.  You will constantly be going through metal detectors.  And you even get a security check LEAVING the Library of Congress.

As I said - I have a LOT of great photos - DC was like a dream come true for a photographer and I'll be posting photos for a while and will put all of them in binder when printed.


This is the National Building Museum built in 1887. These columns (there are 8 total which you will see sooner or later) are some of the largest columns in the world.

National Building Museum, Washington DC
That's it for the moment. I have photos from the air, Detroit Airport, The Metro (love the subway), Washington, and Lincoln Memorial, Library of Congress, The National Portrait Gallery, Chinatown, National Air and Space Museum, giant erasers and metal trees, the Chili Bowl that the Mayor took be too and many more.

And BTW - Mayor Crombie was a huuuuge help getting me around and I can not thank him enough.  From hailing cabs to learning the subway system  . . I might still be out in DC lost but the town is pretty easy to navigate.

HOWEVER - it's so nice to get back and put on a tee-shirt and relax  although its a little cool here.  We left DC yesterday and it was 80 degrees.

See ya next time.

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