Joint Action4 min read
Author Ryunosuke Satoro once said: “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” This quote was born from the age-old truth that there is strength in numbers. The public power industry has proven this concept through joint action – an interaction whereby two or more entities coordinate actions and activities to bring about a commonly desired change or outcome – the driving force behind the creation of American Municipal Power, Inc. (AMP).
Through joint action, AMP members are able to join together, creating the economies of scale that provide more strategic and effective resource planning, service offerings, risk reductions through shared resources, and a more powerful voice in the face of legislative and regulatory challenges. Communities of every size find greater strength by coming together, facing challenges and speaking with a unified voice.
Shared power supply resources
AMP offers a diverse portfolio of power supply resource options that include AMP- and member-owned generation, long-term supply contracts, and seasonal and spot market purchases, to best meet the needs of each respective member system. This, in combination with long-term power supply studies and load forecasts, helps to ensure that AMP’s member communities have the necessary resources available to meet the growing needs of their customer-owners.
A good example of joint action’s benefit is the AMP Fremont Energy Center (AFEC). AMP owns 90.69 percent of AFEC on behalf of 86 participating AMP members in seven states and 4.15 percent on behalf of the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC). The 2011 purchase of this 700-MW natural-gas combined-cycle facility in Fremont, Ohio, was made possible by joint action and the collaboration of the participants.
A greater voice
Along with the benefits of being able to share in the cost and risk of major generation projects, joint action is valuable in the legislative and regulatory arenas. When it comes to politics and policy, many voices will always be more powerful than one.
Public power, state, regional and national groups collaborate with legislative, regulatory and legal experts who closely monitor — and intervene when necessary — state and federal legislative proposals and regulatory actions that could potentially affect municipal electric systems.
AMP’s staff, consultants and member officials regularly meet with state and federal legislators, regulatory agency officials, state public utilities commissioners and regional transmission organizations to champion the issues important to public power and to foster an awareness of municipal electric systems.
Each year, AMP and its members join together with hundreds of other public power representatives from across the country to visit legislators in Washington, D.C., during the American Public Power Association (APPA) Legislative Rally.
“The APPA Legislative Rally is one of public power’s best opportunities to advance our interests and share our issues at the federal level,” said Wadsworth Mayor Robin Laubaugh. “When we come together to work toward a common goal, we can accomplish anything.”
By coordinating, negotiating and sharing resources, joint action organizations have access to a broad range of valuable services, insights and experiences. Additionally, joint action organizations regularly partner with other agencies and industry partners. AMP members recognize many benefits from AMP’s partnership with organizations such as the APPA, Large Public Power Council, Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), National Hydropower Association and The Energy Authority.
Membership in a joint action organization like AMP provides communities access to important resources such as industry-leading training, cybersecurity and technical consulting, and industry working groups that would be cost-prohibitive on a stand-alone basis.
Throughout the year, AMP offers its members a number of educational opportunities including general safety training, Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) training, and lineworker training courses for various skill levels (beginner through advanced). As a result of joint action, AMP members also have access to training opportunities through organizations like APPA and SEPA.
“Many municipal departments work on a fixed budget, so it can be difficult to find training opportunities that maintain a proper balance between price and quality,” said Jerry Gee, Tipp City electric superintendent. “With AMP’s robust training program, that is not an issue. With their lineworker training, you know that you are getting some of the best training available and a reasonable rate.”
Being a part of an organization like AMP provides members the opportunity to communicate and learn from each other. A number of events and webinars are held throughout the year that facilitate these interactions, including the Focus Forward Advisory Council, Technical Services Conference, AMP’s Annual Conference and regional safety meetings.
Access to assistance
One of the most important services AMP offers is the Mutual Aid Program, which brings members together to provide assistance with restoration efforts following a major outage event. Whether caused by an accident or a natural disaster, sometimes outage events are too big for a community to handle alone. AMP coordinates with participating member communities to ensure access to the necessary resources, manpower and equipment to repair damage and restore power during their times of greatest need.
“When disaster struck our community and we needed help, I knew that we could count on our peers in public power to answer the call for aid,” said Wes Jones, Philippi electric superintendent. “By joining together, repairs that might otherwise have taken days to complete were finished in a matter of hours.”
Membership in a joint action organization, like AMP, can also provide financial advantages. AMP provides a convenient, cost-effective way for member communities to finance electric utility projects through on-behalf-of financing, which allows issuance of tax-exempt debt on behalf of member communities. This service provides communities with extra flexibility and capacity in financing.
Since the program’s inception, AMP has financed more than $797 million of short-term Bond Anticipation Notes on behalf of its member communities.
AMP’s joint action efforts offer opportunities and innovative solutions to members that might otherwise not exist. AMP will officially celebrate the half century mark in September 2021. While the focus of AMP leadership is on moving public power forward, our 50th anniversary celebration is a good time to reflect on our journey and milestone events.
American Municipal Power, Inc. offers a selection of value-added programs and services, and members are encouraged to explore them in full. While the AMP website provides a comprehensive inventory of information about the organization, the Member Extranet serves as a repository of member-specific information and opportunities, such as the Amplifier Annual Services Guide, which contains complete descriptions of programs and services, as well as a photo directory of the AMP Board of Trustees, leadership and staff.
AMP’s membership is made up of diverse utilities that have come together recognizing both the strength and benefits of joint action for their communities and customers. For more information on joint action, contact Adam Ward, senior vice president of member services and external affairs, at [email protected].