The Magazine of American Municipal Power, Inc. and its Member Communities

Of Member Concern

Moving Forward

Jolene Thompson


Moving Forward

4 min read



As I prepared for my new role at AMP, I knew that the transition would be taking place during a time of significant transformation within the electric industry – even before the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

Between the shifts in generation and the disruptions driven by new technology, new players and changing customer expectations, it can be easy to get lost in the bevy of changes. I firmly believe that public power is well-positioned, but we must prepare for the impacts to the public power business model.

The history of public power stands as evidence of communities that recognized the need for electricity and met that need. Rather than waiting for an investor-owned company to deem their community worthy of electrification, early public power leaders decided to make it happen on their own terms. Public power was born of the sort of changes that the industry is currently experiencing.

The core principles of public power – customer focus, reliability, affordability, environmental stewardship and local control – are shared across systems of different shapes and sizes and will serve the industry well as it continues to innovate. More importantly, these principles point directly to how public power is focused on serving the local community.

AMP is working from a strong foundation to assist members as they face changes. We benefit from a diverse membership, an engaged Board of Trustees filled with forward-thinking leaders, smart and enthusiastic employees, a strong executive team and knowledgeable partners.

Leveraging this foundation, my goals for the organization focus on four overarching themes:

  • Engaged and equipped members;
  • An engaged and high-performing workforce;
  • Industry and policy relevance; and
  • Operational, financial and administrative excellence.
Engaged and equipped members

First and foremost, AMP is a membership organization, and it’s through the success and engagement of our members that the organization truly thrives. Public power leaders came together to form AMP nearly five decades ago because of their belief in the importance of joint action and their understanding of the effectiveness of strength in numbers. Joint action is as necessary today as it was then.

AMP has evolved through the years. We’ve added assets and programs designed to meet member power supply and service needs. As we grapple with the changing industry and the economic, societal and workplace impacts of COVID-19, it’s a good time to step back and assess where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Over the coming year, the AMP Board and executive team will be updating our strategic plan with the goal of providing members with the tools to remain valued partners in their community.

AMP has a history of identifying enterprising solutions to help members address challenges and we will continue to seek such avenues in our strategic planning process. A recent example has been the formation of AMP Transmission (AMPT). AMPT is already proving to be a critical partner in helping members control costs and enhance reliability. Other recent examples include our AMI program, enhanced economic development programs, the member-driven Focus Forward effort and AMP’s temporary transition to virtual safety trainings in an effort to continue providing members with high-quality training opportunities.

I’ve been reaching out to members as part of a listening tour. My goal is to speak with the principal contacts for each AMP member in the coming months to hear their priorities and gain feedback on the organization’s direction.

Engaged and high-performing workforce

The success of any organization relies on its people, and AMP must continue to work to maintain an engaged, high-performing workforce. I’m honored to lead an organization filled with some of the brightest and most talented individuals in the industry. But the industry faces issues surrounding technology advancements, retirements and shifting priorities for new and existing employees. Moreover, COVID-19 has served to hasten the examination of how the workforce of the future will interact.

Over the coming year, AMP will focus on supporting diversity and increasing collaboration and development opportunities for AMP’s workforce. We’ll also continue to provide members with access to affordable, high-quality training to help improve employee performance, enhance safety and ultimately lead to greater system reliability and customer satisfaction. In addition, we’ll seek tools that we can provide for members’ use in meeting local workforce challenges.

Industry and policy relevance

Although “dysfunctional” is a fitting description of state and federal legislative and regulatory arenas, the outcomes from those processes can have a profound impact on every facet of utility operations.

With a new administration, we will see shifts in policy. These shifts could touch areas such as carbon regulation, clean energy standards, transmission rates, market rules and tax structures.

With careful monitoring and effective engagement, AMP has sought to ensure that we’re relevant and that we have a seat at the table when issues are discussed. This allows us to protect and advocate for member interests. Over the coming year, we’ll continue to work in collaboration with our members to assess the best paths and strategies based on political realities to ensure that our collective voice is heard.

Operational, financial and administrative excellence

Operational excellence has become even more critical as AMP has taken on a heightened role as a generation operator over the past decade.

It’s crucial that AMP management establish clear goals and priorities, strive to lower costs, embrace safety, support a culture of compliance and maintain our knowledge of best practices. This means actively seeking to identify areas where we can become more efficient and better leverage our resources.

These behind-the-scenes efforts include the final stages of work on an Oracle business system re-implementation that will provide better reporting for managers to conduct analysis and optimize operations. We’ve also been tightening budgets and working to enhance our governance processes.

Just the beginning

I started with AMP in the Member Services Department in the late 1980s. Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work closely with member community officials and gained an appreciation for the positive attributes of public power. I look forward to connecting with members and working with the Board and executive team to refine AMP’s efforts to meet member expectations.

These efforts are just the beginning and I look forward to all of the great work we will accomplish together in the coming years.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected].