Powering Strong Communities

Shared Challenges and Shared Solutions

The theme of partnership flows through this issue with some compelling stories from among our membership. In my first few months on the job, I’ve seen plenty of examples not only of how American Public Power Association staff members partner with each other and our utility members, but also how we facilitate partnerships with federal agencies, other trades, and our associate members. These collaborations help strengthen our advocacy, provide well-rounded education and training opportunities, and forge the connection between members, vendors, and communities that help utilities stay a step ahead.

APPA has vitally strong and essential partnerships with our members. From defining our annual policy priorities to developing educational resources and curating news and information, our work reflects the views and priorities of utility members. This is how we developed permitting reform priorities; strategies on supply chain concerns; the clarifications needed by Treasury to effectively implement new elective pay incentives, protecting hydropower assets that keep the grid reliable; and our pointed critique of the substance and timelines in the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas proposal that is moving toward a final rulemaking in spring 2024. There isn’t much an association can accomplish without close partnerships.

The robust mutual aid network is another long-standing example of effective working partnerships — not only in coordinating how resources get shared, but in how the structure of the agreements and recovery work align to minimize risk and maximize crew safety. In 2023, we worked with members during major events, like Hurricane Idalia, and in mutual aid exercises and workshops on incident planning and response. There were also numerous collaborative efforts to enhance grid security, such as creating projects and toolkits for members on cybersecurity, updating the Physical Security Essentials Guide, and working with the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council to enhance partnerships between utilities, trades, and federal agencies, including during the biennial national Grid Exercise, or GridEx.

Continuing to meet the challenges of our quickly evolving industry requires effective use of expertise at all levels. Working groups of APPA members are learning from each other and helping create tools on areas such as the energy transition, rate design, electric vehicles, and energy storage. Grants and scholarships through the Demonstration of Energy and Efficiency Developments program allow members to explore and share new knowledge with communities across the country: partnership in its broadest and most applicable form. Meeting tomorrow’s challenges also means developing the governance and workforce of utilities today. Our on-demand series, Public Power Governance Essentials, and work on energy career awareness with the Center for Energy Workforce Development are two of many steps in APPA’s continued focus to create much-needed resources in these areas.

As we refine and refocus our initiatives for 2024, I am excited about the programs already underway and those we are planning for the new year. Whether advocacy, education, technical expertise, or messaging about the benefits of public power, the end value of our partnerships should be felt across the thousands of public power communities we serve. If there are areas where we can help you collaborate better that you aren’t seeing in our suite of services now, please let me know. Wishing you all a joyous season and a very happy new year.