Powering Strong Communities

Operational Excellence: RP3

An RP3 designation is a sign of a utility's dedication to operating an efficient, safe, and reliable distribution system.

The American Public Power Association is accepting nominations for six openings on the Reliable Public Power Provider Review Panel. To nominate yourself or someone for this position, complete this Nomination Form by February 16, 2024.

About the Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) Program

APPA’s RP3 program is based on industry-recognized leading practices in four important disciplines:

  • Reliability
  • Safety
  • Workforce Development
  • System Improvement

An RP3 designation is a sign of a utility's dedication to operating an efficient, safe, and reliable distribution system. Being recognized by the RP3 program demonstrates to community leaders, governing board members, suppliers, and service providers a utility’s commitment to its employees, customers, and community. Currently 271 of the nation's more than 2,000 public power utilities hold a RP3 designation. 

Download the RP3 brochure to share program information with your colleagues.  

Apply to Become a RP3 Designee

In the RP3 program, applicants earn points for their practices and accomplishments in each of the four disciplines. Criteria posed as questions within each discipline are based on leading business practices and are intended to represent a utility-wide commitment to safe and reliable delivery of electricity. If your utility earns the RP3 designation, you can use the designation status to demonstrate your value and operational excellence to your community. This prestigious designation has been awarded to qualifying public power utilities for 13 years.

Registration for the 2024 RP3 application will be available in early 2024.

Learn how to apply and access helpful application resources on our How to Apply page.

Process and Timelines

  1. May 1 – September 30: Utilities complete application (submit by September 30)
  2. October: RP3 panel conducts preliminary application reviews, requests additional information
  3. November: If requested, utilities follow up with additional details to the panel's Requests for Information 
  4. December: Panel conducts final application review
  5. January: Utilities notified of score results
  6. April/May: Designation status is officially active and lasts for three years. Utilities recognized at the Engineering & Operations Technical Conference.
  7. Next three years: Utilities promote recognition in communities and to all stakeholders
  8. Year two: Utilities reapply for designation, one year prior to expiry to ensure no gaps in designation

About the RP3 Disciplines

The RP3 application asks questions in four disciplines — reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement. This rigorous application process gives you a framework to review your operations and gain assistance from experts to foster best practices. You are required to provide documentation of your utility’s practices and procedures to receive feedback.

Criteria for the RP3 disciplines are based on sound business practices and industry leading methods. The RP3 Application Guide explains requirements for each area, with guidelines for answering and scoring each application question.

  • Reliability: Reliability goes deeper than day-to-day service. The reliability section includes collecting and analyzing reliability data, having a mutual aid agreement, devising and using a system-wide disaster management or emergency response plan, and implementing cyber and physical security.
  • Safety: Utilities must create a culture of safety with commitment from top management. All aspects of operations from power generation to line work require safety protocol. The delivery of safe and reliable electricity demands benchmarking safety metrics, focusing on frontline workers, and implementing rigorous safety training. In the RP3 application, you must indicate an accepted safety manual is used across the utility and everyone follows safe work practices.
  • Workforce Development: Describe how you train your staff — through webinars, workshops, conferences, college courses, or in-house programs. Discuss how you provide opportunities for staff to network with public power colleagues from across the nation. How do you encourage employees to expand their perspective through membership in state, regional, and national committees?
  • System Improvement: Elaborate how you maintain system integrity and promote long term planning through managing utility assets and system improvement. Show how your participation in research and development programs creates procedures to maintain distribution system and financial health.

More Reliability Resources

Learn about the eReliability Tracker service to report, analyze and benchmark your outage data.

Visit our reliability topic page for the latest news and resources.