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Big Takeaways From 7 Electric Utility Strategic Plans
Learn about the strategic plans of other successful utility companies to integrate the best elements into your own process.
Whether you’re a public energy company or an electric cooperative, it can be challenging to create a clear and thorough strategic plan. If you’re at a loss on where to begin, or have a plan but know it needs to be improved, take a look at these strategic plan examples from other utility companies. We’ve included our takeaways on each to help you recognize what might be important to include in your own plans. Sometimes the best way to learn is from others in the industry.
Platte River Power Authority
Platte River Power Authority (PRPA) is a not-for-profit wholesale electricity generation and transmission provider serving the Colorado communities of Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont, and Loveland. PRPA has created a 2015-2025 Strategic Plan.
PRPA updates its 10-year strategic plan every year, which is important because it allows the utility to adjust to changes in the environment and competitive landscape annually, including new technologies. Another benefit of the annual update is that PRPA will be very familiar with the strategic plan, which greatly increases the odds of successful execution.
The plan includes all the right foundational elements, such as strategic initiatives, goals, and activities. Also, the company links its planning efforts together (resource planning, risk management, financial and regulatory planning, and municipal planning) in a consistent manner. The strategic plan is well formatted in an easy-to-read document. While it doesn’t show progress in achieving measures from previous plans, it clearly communicates priorities for moving forward.
Austin Energy (AE) powers the city of Austin, Texas, and nearby areas, making it the eighth largest public utility in the U.S. Since it’s a community-owned utility in a deregulated energy environment, AE sells its energy to the grid and then purchases what it needs from the grid for its community. The company is currently executing its 2017-21 Strategic Plan.
One of the strongest components of this strategic plan is how the utility spends several pages fully defining the complicated environment in which they operate, and the risk and scenario planning they used to develop the plan. A community-owned utility has many stakeholders who will be asking questions, so clearly outlining the environment is important in this situation.
The document also summarizes several high-level objectives with example initiatives (a more detailed playbook likely exists for AE to execute on while striving to achieve this plan).
Seattle City Light
The tenth-largest public utility in the U.S., Seattle City Light (SCL) provides electrical power to Seattle, Washington, and surrounding metropolitan areas. SCL creates six-year plans, the most current being its 2019-2024 Strategic Plan.
This strategic plan sells a future. SLC has a noticeable focus on clear communication, explaining its full planning process in detail and reviewing accomplishments from the 2013-2018 plan. SLC also explains current strategic priorities and initiatives in detail. The primary benefit of a plan like this is offering full transparency to its customers.
Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative
This strategic plan is short and sweet. KIUC gives a history of how it became a cooperative and the notable accomplishments that have happened since its founding (including reliability improvements, investments, member cost savings, etc.). KIUC’s plan then lists 11 strategic goals and actions that guide its behavior through the life of this plan, and wraps up with its mission, vision, and culture.
This strategic plan is a good example for utility companies needing a simple, high-level format that doesn’t include many metrics in the published version.
Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) is a not-for-profit rural electric distribution and utility cooperative in operation since 1938. Based in Johnson City, Texas, the cooperative has a four-year strategic plan.
The strategic plan on PEC’s website just shows themes and initiatives, but the right margin of the webpage contains links to PDFs of the 2017-2020 strategic plan, the 2017-2018 business plan, and 2017-18 KPIs. While it initially might seem strange to keep components of a strategic plan in separate documents, it allows PEC to clearly communicate different levels of detail to different audiences.
Overall, this strategic plan is a full Balanced Scorecard and shows a lot of thought and organization. The plan clearly shows themes, initiatives, and strategic direction, and is well-designed. PEC is a great example for other utilities to use as a guide.
New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) is a not-for-profit corporation that controls and coordinates the power flow over New York State’s electric grid. The company is currently operating under its 2015-2019 Strategic Plan.
NYISO’s strategic plan reflects its purpose of balancing the supply and demand of electricity across New York State. The plan includes a set of strategic objectives that are clearly defined, as well as strategic initiatives for a five-year period. There’s also a long-term incentive plan for employees in the strategic plan, which is good for transparency. In general, the strategic plan does a nice job of outlining the overall objectives and ongoing actions.
Based in Chicago, IL, Exelon operates in 48 states, Washington D.C., and Canada. It is a Fortune 100 energy company.
The strategy of a private, for-profit energy company isn’t easily accessible, but we can learn things from looking at Exelon’s website. It’s most helpful to review the company’s integrated business model; and its strategies for distributed generation, innovation, and sustainability (you can easily picture a strategy map with these themes). This is all underpinned by a culture of innovation. Exelon could have chosen a culture of integration, given the number of its recent acquisitions, but chose to focus on innovation and continued growth.
Even though its strategy is confidential, it’s important for an organization of Exelon’s size to have key themes and elements on its website to foster clear communication and transparency throughout the organization.
Highlighting the best components of these public, private, and electric cooperative examples can help you refine the strategic plans for your own utility company. That being said, this is only the first step—you won’t get any value out of your plan unless you take the time to manage and execute it.
ClearPoint’s strategic planning and reporting software can be the perfect resource to track your key goals, KPIs, and projects, ensuring you have the resources and the information you need to achieve your strategy.