Florida’s public power utilities are committed to high reliability. Several, in fact, are nationally recognized leaders. When a utility focuses on reliability not only do its customers benefit, so does the entire community.
“Our commitment to reliability means continually improving our business practices,” said Joel Ivy, General Manager at Lakeland Electric. “We want to enhance the value of the services we provide, and having superior reliability is a win-win for our customers and our community.”
The American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Reliable Public Power Provider program (RP3) recognizes utilities for outstanding electric service. The program distinguishes utilities that excel in 4 disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement.
“By recognizing a utility’s implementation of leading practices, the RP3 program helps a utility demonstrate to community leaders, governing board members, suppliers, and service providers a utility’s commitment to its employees, customers, and community,” said Alex Hofmann, Energy and Environmental Services Manager at APPA. “An RP3 designation is a sign of a utility focused on operating an efficient, safe, and reliable distribution system.”
The application process is rigorous and all applications are kept confidential. The RP3 review panel is made up of 18 public power representatives from across the country.
“After a utility’s application is received and processed by staff, it is reviewed a minimum of four times over two meetings by the panel,” said Hofmann. “During this review applicants are given credit towards their designation based on completion of questions and the merit of responses in each of the four disciplines.”
APPA provides a number of tools and resources for RP3 designees. The RP3Application Guide helps utilities understand how the Panel evaluates applications and gives credit to responses.
APPA staff puts on a yearly RP3 Webinar Series. “These webinars review each section with an RP3 Review Panel member,” said Hofmann. “The 2014 webinars have already occurred and are available for viewing online.”
“To help communities educate to city councils, other departments, and customers on the RP3 program we have createda program flyer,” said Hofmann. “The flyer answers the common questions about what an RP3 designation means, including: what is RP3, how utilities apply for the designation, how RP3 utilities are chosen, and the benefits.”
RP3 designation is on a three-year cycle. Utilities that apply in 2014 and receive an RP3 designation in early 2015 will maintain that designation until early 2018.
To maintain RP3 status utilities must re-apply every three years. Prior to 2013, RP3 designations were valid for a two-year period; therefore, utilities that wanted to maintain their RP3 status had to re-apply every other year.
The re-application process is intended to ensure RP3 utilities are consistently striving to maintain and improve the quality of their system. Utilities must apply by September 30.
“Each year, the RP3 review panel assesses and revises the application as utility practices change,” said Hofmann. “This constant expert review ensures that the RP3 program represents the best practices in the industry.”
Eight Florida Public Power utilities are current recognized RP3 designees. Four are Diamond-level designees, the highest level designation, awarded to utilities that meet 98-100% of the program criteria. These utilities are Beaches Energy Service, Fort Pierce Utilities Authority (FPUA), JEA, and Lakeland Electric.
“RP3 recognition is great acknowledgement of improvement to our processes, results from those processes, levels of success with our customer satisfaction, and also the achievement of our goals and objectives,” said Lakeland’s Ivy. “Our customers expect and deserve the highest quality service, and certainly here at Lakeland Electric we’re passionate about providing that.”
This is Lakeland Electric’s first Diamond-level designation. “We have three main areas of focus when looking at the health of our utility and that’s affordability, dependability, and sustainability,” said Ivy. “These drive our decision-making processes, and RP3 speaks directly to those areas of focus.”
The RP3 program is significant because utilities can compare their operations against performance metrics on a national level. “Receiving RP3 designation demonstrates a utility’s commitment to its community, its customers and its employees,” said Roy Trotter, Electric Utility Director at Beaches Energy Services. “The four disciplines are the foundation of utility operations and a reflection of the dedication and skill of our people.”
Lakeland Electric sought to deliver greater value to its customers. “We saw APPA publications on the RP3 program and believed we were already on this path of excellence,” said Ivy. “We wanted assurance and recognition, and the designation stands as a testament to our excellent reliability.”
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