STARS Alliance Employees Volunteer with Feed My Starving Children

We at STARS Alliance believe in a philanthropic work culture, whether that be through our time or funds.

In early August, members of the STARS Alliance team volunteered with Feed My Starving Children, a Christian non-profit dedicated to providing meals for children in hard-to-reach corners of the globe.

The session lasted 2 hours at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, AZ and pulled members from the community together, including the local fire department and various local businesses.

Within the 2 hours of packing meals, the community packed 55,000 meals, enough to feed 150 children for a year.

STARS Alliance employees highly recommend this volunteer experience, and Feed My Starving Children is currently planning the biggest packing event hosted to date in Arizona at the Phoenix Convention Center in December.

To sign up to volunteer with Feed My Starving Children, or for more information, visit their website.

Employees at the STARS Alliance office have at least one volunteer opportunity a year, and we hope to continue volunteering with Feed My Starving Children in the future.

STARS Alliance Awards 2 Third-Party Logistics Agreements

In July of 2017, STARS Alliance awarded third-party logistics (3PL) agreements to C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. and GlobalTranz, d.b.a. Logistics Planning Services.

"The scope of the agreements primarily focus on full truck load, less than truck load, air freight and heavy haul shipments.

“The results of this initiative enables our members to more effectively manage their logistics services. In addition, these agreements define the relationship for the total utility, not just the nuclear sites,” said Ryan Gilchrist.

The STARS 3PL bid was the first competitive bid consisting of supply chain and technical team members outside of the nuclear sites.

“It was exciting to see such great engagement and sharing of best practices from all our team members; the results will continue to add value to our members for years to come,” he continued.

STARS Alliance is committed to building the relations between our preferred logistics providers and our members. STARS will continue to monitor the performance, cost savings and utilization of these new relationships.

STARS Alliance Meets with the DOJ

STARS representatives are beginning a plan for joint procurement of nuclear fuel.

One of the most expensive purchases a nuclear plant makes is the fuel to operate it. Several hundred million dollars of fuel and fuel-related services are needed each year to operate the 7 reactors across STARS.

We believe we can optimize our fuel procurement if we work together to strategically plan how and when we purchase nuclear fuel components, so we are taking the legal and organizational steps to form a nuclear fuel procurement group.

STARS received approval from our Board of Directors on March 31st to begin the formation of this group. The initial areas of focus will be on the purchase of uranium concentrates, conversion and enrichment services as procurement of these components is allowed under the current STARS operating agreement.

The 4 STARS station’s fuel managers and legal counsel have been meeting to recommend:

  • Goals
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Processes
  • Change Management
  • Resources for the new group

When STARS was originally set up we sought a Department of Justice Anti-Trust Division (DOJ) “Safe Harbor” letter to protect STARS from Anti-Trust actions by the DOJ.

In the original “Safe Harbor” letter, the DOJ specifically excludes STARS from engaging in joint fuel fabrication activities. However, with changing market forces we now see the value in joint fuel fabrication efforts.

Key Players and Next Steps

Tom Cannon is leading the group formation efforts and the Engineering Vice President Board Subcommittee is providing oversight for this endeavor.

On May 25th Joe Fortman, Steve Coppock and lawyers from Morgan Lewis met with the DOJ in Washington, D.C. to discuss our plans to begin joint procurement of fuel fabrication services.

The meeting resulted in an open exchange of information, and we expect feedback in the next couple of weeks in the form of information requests.

Once the feedback is received we will formally submit our plans in a letter to the DOJ for their review.

Although the review process will take several months, we expect a positive outcome and plan to explore options to jointly purchase fuel fabrication services starting in 2018.

In the future, we hope our 4 sites will work together on all aspects of nuclear fuel procurement, but getting started working together on joint procurement of uranium, conversion and enrichment is a great first step.

Ed Halpin Welcomes Steve Coppock as the New STARS Alliance President

I am pleased to announce that Steve Coppock has been appointed president of STARS Alliance LLC. Steve has been doing an outstanding job as executive director of STARS since 2015 and I’m sure his excellent work will continue in his new role.

Steve joined STARS from Palo Verde Generation Station. During his 31 years with the Arizona Public Service Company, which operates Palo Verde, he has served in several key engineering leadership roles. He also served a two-year loaned assignment with Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) as a senior evaluator

Steve earned a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and has a senior reactor operator certification for pressurized water reactors and is a Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (SMRP).

Prior to joining the STARS Alliance, Steve served as the Palo Verde representative to the STARS Management Council and he worked closely with former STARS President Jim Becker before taking over on Jan. 1, 2015.

Through the STARS Alliance – Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Arizona Public Service Co., Ameren Missouri and Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp. – have worked together to build a collective 2016 INPO Index of 99.7, the highest of any group of nuclear reactors in the country, and Steve has played a key role in that effort.

I have worked closely with Steve as both vice chairman and chairman of the STARS Board of Directors and I am confident in his ability to lead STARS.

Ed Halpin

Senior Vice President, Generation and Chief Nuclear Officer

Pacific Gas & Electric Company

STARS Alliance Unveils 3 Preferred Engineering Suppliers

STARS Alliance is pleased to announce that our competitive bid for preferred engineering suppliers is being awarded to Burns and McDonnell Engineering Co., Enercon Services, Inc., and Sargent & Lundy, L.L.C.

These companies will provide engineering support in the form of engineering products and services to our 7 nuclear units.

Jaime McCoy, vice president of engineering at Wolf Creek, said, “The STARS Preferred Engineering Suppliers represent an opportunity for high quality of products and improved costs, especially when combined with the Standard Design Process.”

STARS began the search for preferred suppliers in order to enable our member stations to more efficiently use their resources.

We also saw a need for consistent high-quality support.

“We want to go above and beyond what we previously had, and I think we are accomplishing that,” said Steve Coppock, the president for STARS.

The next step, according to Coppock, is implementation.

“We are holding kickoff meetings at each site,” he said.

Palo Verde, Callaway and Wolf Creek can expect these meetings through late May and into June, while Diablo Canyon’s meeting will be held in either late July or early August.

STARS Alliance Focuses on the Horizon

STARS shares the 3 focus areas that help us, and our member stations, excel.

STARS Alliance, or the idea of forming a company to put STARS member’s stations on par with fleet stations has been in the back of Steve Coppock’s mind for years.

In the far-left corner of his office, above his computer, is a series of black books that hold the beginnings of STARS.

“I’m pretty sure these were made before most people had computers,” he says, laughing.

Though the company has been around in one form or the other for close to 2 decades, STARS Alliance LLC was officially formed in 2012 with these 3 focus areas in mind:

  • Improving station performance
  • Saving money through supply chain
  • Managing projects of common interest

“We are fortunate to have great leaders at the STARS stations and the processes we have put in place to help the plants achieve and maintain higher levels of performance have worked tremendously well,” he continued.

In 2012, STARS member stations had an average score right below an 83 on the INPO Index, whereas in the final quarter of 2016, we were the top performing group of reactors in the US with an average of 97.7.

STARS continues to help member stations use their funds more efficiently every year. In 2013, the yearly contract savings sat right below $8 million, while in 2017 the yearly contract savings is expected to exceed $21 million.

Additionally, in 2013, member dues totaled $5.6 million. This year, those dues are reduced to $1.72 million.

Ryan Gilchrist, the supply chain manager at STARS says, “Operating STARS and our nuclear stations efficiently is more important now than ever and I am impressed by the teamwork displayed by our members to work together to save money. We have a great group of 40 suppliers that are working well with us to help provide great products and services.”

As for managing projects of common interest, Coppock says there are nearly endless possibilities for working together to reduce cost and improve performance across the STARS sites.

Joe Fortman, the business operations manager at STARS, says, “The current projects are just the beginning. I am really looking forward to helping the Alliance to develop currently untouched opportunities.”

The types of projects we work on are those where we can reduce the duplication of work across the STARS stations and improve efficiency. Teamwork, he says, is the only way we can accomplish these types of projects.

STARS plays a key role in pulling teams together when a beneficial project idea comes along. Historically, we worked together on the license renewal application process, and today we are working on a project to implement the new licenses.

We are also working on forming a nuclear fuel procurement group and helping the sites address parts obsolesce, which Coppock is especially excited about.

Bob Farnam Joins STARS Alliance as Training Functional Area Manager

Farnam replaced Susan Westcott who returned to Diablo Canyon in March.

At the beginning of March, Bob Farnam was welcomed by STARS Alliance as our new Training Functional Area Manager (FAM). Susan Westcott, our former Training FAM, returned to her position at Diablo Canyon after a faithful 3 years with our team.

Besides his responsibilities as the Training FAM, Farnam is also our representative on the Industry Corporate Training Director team, as well as our representative to INPO.

“My number one goal is to continue Susan’s efforts in getting STARS to be recognized as a strong organization with superb training programs,” Farnam said.

“Within the next few years I see the STARS training programs being innovative, progressive, and altogether industry leading,” Farnam continued.

He plans to continue this growth through his leadership style, which he says is, “supportive and facilitative.” Though, he added, he never misses a chance to make things exciting for the team.

In his first month, Farnam has begun a few new projects at STARS, all related to the “Delivering the Nuclear Promise” efforts. One project, standardized Key Performance Indicators, is nearly finished and will help compare each station’s training program performance.

“These projects aside, we have several opportunities to make a good impression within the industry this year, including 3 plant evaluations and 1 Accreditation Team Visit,” he said.

STARS is hopeful for the Accreditation Team’s findings because of our track record under Westcott.

Throughout her 3 years as the Training FAM, all of our sites received no Accreditation Team findings. They also all achieved accreditation renewal with unanimous votes by the INPO board.

“We are an alliance that is developing and improving in many areas,” Westcott said. “Bob will be able to both build on our past successes and create new ones. I found this to be one of the most rewarding assignments of my career and trust he will too.”

Palo Verde's Steve Coppock Named New STARS Executive Director

At the final quarterly meeting of 2014, the STARS Board of Directors unanimously elected Steve Coppock to be the new executive director of the organization beginning January 1, 2015. Coppock had served as the Palo Verde representative to the STARS Management Council. He worked closely with current STARS President Jim Becker for a smooth and efficient transition of STARS day-to-day business operations. Becker completed his term and retired March 1.

"I'm honored that the STARS Board of Directors has placed their confidence in me to lead STARS and am grateful to Jim Becker's leadership which was instrumental in building a solid foundation since STARS Alliance was formed,"said Steve Coppock. "We will continue with our vision of achieving excellence through a strong alliance with a focus on improving plant and regulatory performance, saving money through the joint procurement of goods and services, and working together on projects of common interest."

In his 28-year career with Arizona Public Service Company, Coppock has served in several key engineering leadership roles at Palo Verde, including Systems Engineering, Program Engineering, Maintenance Engineering, Engineering FIN team, and Plant Reliability and Modifications. He served a two-year loaned assignment with Institute of Nuclear Power Operations as a senior evaluator. Coppock earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and has a senior reactor operator certification for pressurized water reactors.

Additionally, Randy Edington, executive vice president and chief nuclear officer of Arizona Public Service's Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station was elected chairman of the STARS Board of Directors. Ed Halpin, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer at Pacific Gas and Electric's Diablo Canyon Power Plant was elected vice chairman. Edington and Halpin also assumed these roles January 1, 2015.

STARS Alliance was formed in 2012 to support its member stations' efforts to achieve excellence in nuclear power plant operations. The alliance consists of four nuclear power station in four states: Callaway Energy Center (Missori), Diablo Canyon Power Plant (California), Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station (Arizona), and Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation (Kanasas).

The STARS Alliance is headquartered in Goodyear, Arizona. For more information, visit the STARS Alliance at

DCPP Desalination Plant Could Benefit Drought-Stricken SLO County

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, sits Diablo Canyon Power Plant’s desalination plant which is located on an 85 foot-high coastal terrace and is one of the largest facilities of its kind on the entire West Coast. The biggest is a 50-million gallon per day commercial desalination plant in Carlsbad, which by the way, is located near an existing power plant. It will start to supply a significant amount of fresh water to nearby communities starting in November.

Diablo Canyon depends on the desalination plant for fresh water. It supplies not only the water needs for its two reactors, it supplies all the water used by its 1,500 employees and the plant’s safety-related equipment. Diablo Canyon Power Plant is licensed to produce as much as 1.5 million gallons a day, even though the plant only uses about 675,000 gallons on average daily.

As San Luis Obispo County suffers through its fourth year of an unprecedented drought, the county Board of Supervisors is evaluating the potential of 825,000 gallons of fresh water from the plant as a new source for surrounding communities.

On Tuesday, Aug. 25, the Board of Supervisors took unanimous action to approve two recommendations to conduct feasibility studies.

The first directed staff to engage potential stakeholders in the Santa Maria and Los Osos Groundwater Basins regarding drought relief opportunities presented by the Diablo Canyon Power Plant Desalination Facility.

The second directs county staff to move forward on a parallel track to develop, in concert with PG&E, an emergency project to make desalinated water available to South County communities in the event of continued drought conditions.

This represents a major milestone as the county Public Works and PG&E have determined that supplying surplus water from DCPP is technically feasible. In the coming months, PG&E will move from a feasibility study to a more comprehensive project in cooperation with the County of San Luis Obispo and other external stakeholders.

The STARS Alliance is headquartered in Goodyear, Arizona. For more information, visit the STARS Alliance at

Ameren Missouri's Callaway Energy Center Receives Extended Operating License From the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

On March 6, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced approval of Ameren Missouri’s Callaway Energy Center’s license renewal application, which allows for 20 additional years of operation – beyond the original 40-year operating license that was set to expire in 2024. Callaway’s new license extends the life of the energy center to 2044. Approval by the NRC marks the culmination of a rigorous, six-year process that included the collective effort by the station and STARS License Renewal Project team to perform various comprehensive design reviews and numerous inspections.

“We are extremely pleased with the NRC’s decision,” said Fadi Diya, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer at Ameren Missouri. “Renewal of our license ensures that the Callaway Energy Center will continue to benefit our customers and the community. Callaway employs hundreds of people, provides a powerful boost to the local and state economy and is a key reason why Ameren Missouri is able to provide our customers with reliability that is among the best in the United States.”

Callaway’s original license was approved in 1984 when the energy center began generating electricity.

“The NRC's review process for our license renewal application has been extremely thorough and provides verification that Callaway has the proper programs and plans to operate for 20 additional years,” said Sarah Kovaleski, Ameren Missouri’s director, design engineering, who provided oversight of the relicensing process. “We are committed to safe, long-term operation of Callaway, and the NRC’s decision reinforces our commitment. We are pleased to have the opportunity to serve our customers, our community and our employees for years to come.”

The STARS Alliance is headquartered in Goodyear, Arizona. For more information, visit the STARS Alliance at

USA / STARS Valve Team and Palo Verde Host Knowledge Transfer, Mentoring and Succession Planning Workshop for MOV Engineers

The Utilities Service Alliance (USA) and STARS Alliance Valve Team recently joined Palo Verde Plant Engineering to host a one-day Knowledge Transfer, Mentoring and Succession Planning Workshop for Motor Operated Valve (MOV) Engineers. A total of 15 attendees from peer plants, industry members and Palo Verde gathered for the session at STARS Headquarters in Goodyear, Ariz.

Palo Verde Senior Vice President of Site Operations Bob Bement welcomed attendees to the workshop and provided his thoughts about MOVs and their contribution to Operational Focus. MOVs are a key element to excellence by providing operations with reliable components that meet all plant operational conditions, he shared. Additionally, STARS Executive Director Steve Coppock provided an overview of the STARS Alliance and Goodyear facility.

Workshop topics included qualification and training requirements, considerations for knowledge transfer and mentoring, qualification versus proficiency and industry MOV training resources. The workshop provided an excellent opportunity for networking, continues improvement, knowledge sharing and learnings from self-assessments.

USA / STARS Valve Team Manager Tim Scoggins explained, “The MOV program is one of the more complex programs in the industry, and for most plants it takes four to five years for a new MOV engineer to become proficient in all aspects of the program.”

Among the 18 plants in the USA / STARS Valve Team, there are 12 plants that have new MOV engineers. This benchmarking and workshop session allowed everyone to share best practices, lessons learned and address upcoming challenges and needs at plants.

”The MOV knowledge transfer session was incredibly beneficial in learning the qualification standards other plants have in relation to what we have,” noted Darrell Heckel, program engineer, Callaway. “Another takeaway is knowing there are MOV training courses available to us.”

Joseph Tufano, AOV / backup MOV engineer, Indian Point, added “The USA / STARS valve teams meeting was an excellent opportunity to gain insights on the different training and qualification practices used throughout the industry, and to learn valve program practices at other sites that can be used to improve our own valve programs.”

Sean Howell, MOV engineer, Fermi 2, concurred and shared, “Collaborating with other new MOV program owners provided insights to best practices on MOV ownership transfer as well as strategies to improve the program. Having networking groups like USA / STARS helps reduce the stress of taking ownership of a program that has numerous facets such as an MOV program.”

The STARS Alliance is headquartered in Goodyear, Arizona. For more information, visit the STARS Alliance at

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