Operational Excellence: RP3

About the Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) Program

Registration for the 2019 RP3 application is now open. Click here to complete the registration survey. 

Upcoming RP3 Webinars

Reliability (4/18/2019): Click Here to view the recording of webinar.

  • In the reliability section of the RP3 Application you will be asked to (a) track your reliability indices and power quality, (b) plan for the future through mutual aid and emergency plans, and (c) maintain physical and cyber security. The goal of this section is to ensure that you have the core tenets in place to deliver reliable electricity to your community.

Safety (4/25/2019): Click Here to register for webinar.

  • The core purpose of the safety section is to encourage a culture of safety throughout your utility. Essential items like having an updated safety manual, holding regular safety meetings, and conducting disaster drills make up the majority of this section. Each year, APPA’s Safety Committee reviews this section to ensure that you are meeting current safety standards and regulations.

Workforce Development (5/1/2019): Click Here to register for webinar.

  • Your work force is your biggest asset. Help your employees plan for their future. Participating in conferences, workshops, and webinars ensures a properly educated team that will maintain the reliability and safety of your network. When you help employees prepare for the future through succession plans and tuition reimbursement programs, you’re enabling them to succeed as members of your utility staff and community.

System Improvement (5/9/2019): Click Here to register for webinar.

  • Reliability and efficiency today includes planning for tomorrow. The RP3 program fosters long-term reliability through efforts ranging from system planning studies and asset-management procedures to being involved in a research and development program. Continually improving your system not only ensures the longevity of your system, but also establishes your utility as an entity within the community that your customers can depend on for years to come.


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

  • Reliability
  • Safety
  • Workforce Development
  • System Improvement

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. Additionally, an RP3 designation is a sign of a utility's dedication to operating an efficient, safe, and reliable distribution system. Currently 254 of the nation's more than 2,000 public power utilities hold an RP3 designation. This recognizes the utility for providing its community with high quality, reliable, and safe electricity.

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

Apply to Become an 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.

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

Process and Timelines

  1. May 1 – Sept 30: Utilities complete application (submit by Sept 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 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.