Power Lines Blog

On the Road in Nashville: Customer Service in Public Power

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The utility mounted a very aggressive public relations campaign using multiple media to let the community know and prevent any further thefts. Steve presented on this issue to his fellow Tennessee public power utilities. If one utility sees a problem that creates a customer service issue, it shares that information with others. All public power systems — and their customers — benefit from such a willingness to share.

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Funding Public Power through Municipal Bonds

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Municipal bonds work for public power utilities and their customers. Federal policy makers should recall these facts when proposing to alter the tax treatment of municipal bonds. If public power systems are going to make the needed infrastructure investments to incorporate new technologies, keep our facilities safe and secure, and deal with new environmental regulations, we need to have continued, unfettered access to tax-exempt bonds.

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On the Bleeding Edge of Technology

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The subject of smart grid technology came up. One APPA member utility said that the benefit to customers from installing this technology has not penciled out, given the associated costs. And they were frank to say that they preferred to wait a bit, to see how “early adopters” of this technology fared, rather than make an expensive investment that might turn out to have, as we now say, “issues.”

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Stop Strapping Consumer-owned Utilities to the Procrustean Bed of Mandatory Capacity Markets

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The American Public Power Association has had doubts about capacity markets from their inception, primarily because we thought consumers would end up paying too much for capacity. Eight years later, we think that consumers have felt the adverse impacts. We also know that these capacity constructs are not incenting much new generation.

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Teach Them Public Power and Learn XBoxes

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Public power systems need to engage with their communities and highlight their contributions. But every bit as important is the education of our future retail customers. These young people need to understand just what it takes to produce and deliver their power. Kicking off that process with a “teachable moment” in the 5th grade is a great way to start.

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Public Power Leaders “Find a Way”: APPA 2014 National Conference Recap

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The American Public Power Association held its 2014 National Conference in Denver from June 13-18. Before it gets too far into the rearview mirror I wanted to say what a great experience it was. We heard expert speakers discuss cybersecurity, the political climate, and the economic outlook.

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From Alex & Gandalf: Wisdom as We Fight Public Power’s Greatest Battles

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Right now we are facing substantial challenges, including threats to the federal power system, wholesale market dysfunction, distributed generation, climate change, and grid security. And as we take these challenges on, we should be guided, as Alex was, by what is right for those we serve. By what will keep the lights on, the rates reasonable, and the environment protected.

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