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CPSS Minutes - Fall 2014

Center for Power Systems Studies - Fall Meeting
Brookings SD – October 07, 2014

Call to Order

Steve Hietpas called the meeting to order at approximately 9:50 a.m.

Recording Secretary

Chad Orris – MidAmerican Energy Company

Roll Call


  • Steve Hietpas – SDSU
  • Chad Orris – MidAmerican Energy Company
  • Steve Mundahl – Basin Electric Power Cooperative
  • Austin Hoekman – Missouri River Energy Services
  • Greg Vaselaar – Western Area Power Administration
  • Mike Sydow – NorthWestern Energy
  • Jim Edwards – East River Electric Power Cooperative
  • Frank Kornbaum – Minnesota Power
  • Nate Jones – Heartland Consumers Power District
  • Joe Dold – Otter Tail Power Company

Associate Members

  • Paul Bachman – DGR Engineering
  • Jay Dring – Nebraska Public Power District
  • Chris Graff – Power System Engineering, Inc.

Members not represented

  • Black Hills Corporation
  • WAPA – Watertown
  • Xcel Energy, Inc. South Dakota


  • Dr. Wei Sun - SDSU
  • Dr. Reinaldo Tonkoski - SDSU

Approve Agenda

The agenda for the meeting was reviewed.
Greg Vaselaar moved and Nate Jones seconded to accept the agenda as submitted.  
Motion Carried.

Approve Minutes of April 24, 2014 spring meeting

The minutes of the CPSS spring meeting were reviewed.
Jim Edwards moved and Joe Dold seconded to accept minutes. Motion Carried.  


The Coordinator’s Report was included in the meeting packet. Additional details may be found in the coordinator’s report.  Some of the highlights of the report included:

Summer 2014: Faculty and Student Summer Projects/Research Update

  • Updates on current student counts, projects and research efforts were given by Dr. Sun and Dr. Tonkoski.

Power-Faculty Course Update

  • Dr. Hietpas, Dr. Tonkoski and Dr. Sun each reviewed their fall and spring power courses that are being offered.
  • EE420 was unfortunately not offered this semester and EE tech electives offered this semester were limited to two, due to low enrolment numbers.

Student Activities

  • Dr. Tonkoski organized a tour of the Buffalo Ridge Wind Farms this fall for grad students and hopes to organize a second tour for undergrads.
  • Traditional Power Tour was also offered.

Scholarship Activity

  • The department awarded approximately $35,000 in scholarships with approximately 56% of these funds coming directly from the power community.
  • It was noted that some scholarships are moving to “Open Engineering” when not specified to go to EE students or Power Students.
  • Discussion was had regarding the possibility of setting up a future Wayne Knabach scholarship in his honor.  Discussions were on-going as to what it would take to set that up and how much funding would be required.

IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Fellows from SDSU

  • Dr. Hietpas served on the IEEE PES scholarship Plus committee.
  • These scholarships are extremely competitive. More applicants being seen with shrinking funds.
  • SDSU ranks 2nd behind only University of Illinois-Urbana in PES Scholarship recipients in our region.

Status of Power Students

  • Of the 27 students that graduated in the past year, 7 obtained employment in the power sector (26%).  From spring of 2000 to present, approximately 25% of SDSU EE graduates have secured a career in the power industry.
  • The EE program currently consists of 149 undergraduate students, 39 students in the Master’s program and 14 in the Ph.D. program.

Review of CPSS Impact

  • CPSS and IEEE-PES scholarships continue to be issued and should be immediate attention getters and attractive to future employers.
  • Internship opportunities are continuing to have a very positive impact on students and the SDSU Power Program in general.
  • CPSS sponsored field trips and the power technology tour continue to offer students great exposure to a variety of power-related industries while sponsored design projects and specialized course work offer hands on challenges and exposures to the power industry.

Additional notes

  • The conference and fall awards banquet was well attended by both students and industry. Industry attendance was generally considered good, with 35 industry attendees. It was noted that a better event promotion was desirable for increased industry participation in the future (earlier conferences had industry attendance as high as 45).
  • “Who’s Who in Power” from SDSU will be updated in the future. Dr. Hietpas will send out an e-mail reminder to try and get that listing updated.

Membership Update

  • The membership list was reviewed by the group and updates made as appropriate.

Thank you letters

  • Thank you notes were received from many scholarship recipients and were reviewed by the group.

Conference Committee

  • Selection of new Conference Committee Member – 3-year:
    • Outgoing member(s): Ted Smith (Sioux Valley Energy)
    • 2012-2015: Austin Hoekman (Missouri River Energy Services)
    • 2013-2016: Mike Ropp (Northern Plains Power Tech.)
    • 2014-2017: Frank Kornbaum (Minnesota Power Company)

Special Project Committee

  • Selection of new Special Project Committee Member – 2-year:
    • Outgoing member(s): Casey Sichmeller (East River Electric Power Cooperative)
    • 2013-2015: Chris Graff (Power System Engineering, Inc.)
    • 2014-2016: Jim Edwards (East River Electric Power Cooperative)

Budget Committee

  • Selection of new Budget Committee Member – 2-year:
    • Outgoing member(s): Nate Jones (Heartland Consumers Power District)
    • 2013-2015: Frank Kornbaum (Minnesota Power Company)
    • 2014-2016: Randy Diede (Western Area Power Administration)

Awards Committee

  • Outgoing member(s): 2013 Recipient: Jeff Nelson, and Jim Edwards (East River Electric Power Cooperative)
  • 2014-2015: Steven Arbach (2014 Recipient)
  • 2012-2015: Mike Sydow (NorthWestern Energy)
  • 2013-2016: Jay Dring (Nebraska Public Power District)
  • 2014-2017: Austin Hoekman (Missouri River Energy Services)

Old Business


New Business

2014 Conference Update (Ted Smith) – Tabled – will review at spring 2015 meeting.

2013-2014 Financial Report (Nate Jones)

  • The financial table was reviewed from 1998 to present. Dues had risen from $2,200 to $3,100 for member dues over that timeframe and from $200 to $350 for associate dues over that timeframe.  
  • It was noted that the dues will likely remain at this level for the short term, but that consideration may be desirable in a few years to raise those participation levels again.    
  • Nate Jones moved and Frank Kornbaum seconded to accept the proposed budget. Motion carried.

Mission of the CPSS

  • CPSS was compared to other known power groups associated with respected universities.
  • Discussion was had on the direction of the CPSS funding with the possible direction shifting towards more promotion of Research funding and promoting post bachelors fellowships. Various opinions both for and against were expressed. Topic tabled for future meeting discussion.
  • Various recruiting strategies were discussed with regards to the power program and the EE department in general. The Mobile Microgrid Lab project was discussed as a visible demonstration project to help get young students interested in power at SDSU.
  • Discussion was also had on the possibility of developing additional graduate demonstration type projects such as EV charging stations in the effort to promote post graduate education as well as build interest in the program.

Place/Date for 2015 Spring Meeting –

  • Place/Date for 2015 Spring Meeting – Black Hills Corporation, April 23, 2015


The meeting adjourned at approximately 12:30 p.m. with a general motion and seconded by all.


Respectfully submitted,


Chad Orris, (MidAmerican Energy Company)
Recording Secretary
October 7, 2014
Typed and Submitted November 14, 2014