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

Of Member Concern

Providing Better Services to Members

Marc Gerken, PE

Former President/CEO

Providing Better Services to Members

5 min read



AMP is constantly seeking ways to provide better services and greater value to our member communities. The concept of joint action and the resulting benefits for members underpins all that we do.

Recently, we invited our members to take part in a comprehensive survey to help direct us on our performance and identify member priorities. The results of the survey were very encouraging with 96.3 percent of respondents ranking AMP’s overall performance as excellent or good, which is about six percent higher than our ratings in 2015.

With that said, this is no time to rest upon our laurels. With the end of the year quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to highlight some of the efforts and changes that AMP is undertaking to bring added value to our members.

Strategic Plan progress

A part of the process of providing our members with greater value is the regular review and update of our Strategic Plan. Our strategic planning process typically runs in three-year cycles.

In 2017, the AMP Board of Trustees, in conjunction with AMP executive management, revisited the Strategic Plan and updated it for the period through this year. In response to changes in our industry, earlier this year the Board revisited the plan again to ensure initiatives and tasks were aligned with member priorities.

The Board decided to add a new initiative to the plan focused on economic development, resulting in a total of nine priorities. AMP has committed the staff members and resources needed to address the priorities, which are: member communications and engagement, member distribution systems, member information technology, member systems benchmarking, value and cost management, high performance culture, power supply, transmission strategy, and economic and business development.

A great deal of progress has been made in each of these areas, and at the close of 2018, nearly 70 percent of the stated goals were completed. A new forward-looking plan will be developed in 2020 leveraging the results of the member survey. Members will see more information on this in 2020.

Educational resources to guide our members

The 2019 AMP/OMEA Annual Conference, held in September in Columbus, featured an updated format. This year’s conference was shortened into three days and packed with industry trend- and issuesbased sessions and discussions.

It is always our hope that attendees of the conference have the opportunity to learn about our changing industry and gain insight into all of the services that AMP has to offer, and I believe this year’s conference did just that.

During the 2018 conference, I reported that AMP had established an Innovation Team (I-Team) consisting of staff members from across the organization who would be working on a roadmap to help guide our efforts to tackle the changes confronting our industry. I was proud to see those efforts come to fruition in time for this year’s conference. In their roadmap, the I-Team identified potential industry disruptors and examined how AMP might adapt in order to better serve our members in the future. AMP will keep our members informed as this project continues to progress.

Additionally, not long after the formation of the I-Team, we made the decision to form an internal Carbon Leadership Team (CLT), which features member-level engagement. As AMP and our members have recently completed the asset development of a diverse mixture of resources, having a dedicated team focused on how to best position AMP and our members for a carbon-constrained world is most appropriate. The CLT is engaged and has set goals specific to identifying risks and opportunities related to a carbon constrained future including identifying reduction targets and developing strategies to meet defined targets.

These internal teams are key components to our forward-looking strategies, and as with all of AMP’s resources, members should consider them to be an extension of their team. For information about the I-Team, please contact Joe Morris at [email protected], and for more information about Carbon Leadership Team, please contact Erin Miller at [email protected].

Making economic and business development a priority

AMP also understands that members have needs within their own communities and regions, and we have taken steps to better assist with those issues.

Understanding the need that members have to retain and expand their customer base, AMP recently underwent an audit of our economic and business development service offerings and engaged a member task force to identify member economic development challenges and needs. These efforts resulted in some important findings and led to a number of recommendations to help AMP outline the future of the program.

The findings and recommendations were presented to the Board and paired with the addition of the ninth Strategic Plan priority to “provide members with strategic tools and information to retain and expand their customer base in an effort to increase member loads, and promote members as attractive places to live and work.”

Our efforts include hiring a dedicated staff member to focus on economic development across the AMP member footprint. Alexis Fitzsimmons joined our staff earlier this year as director of economic and business development, and has prioritized visiting with members. If you have questions or would like to meet Alexis, contact her at [email protected].

Maximizing value to members

Another priority that will influence the way AMP operates and provides services to our members is the Oracle Business System Reimplementation Project.

Though AMP has been using the Oracle system for some time now, we have identified a number of ways that it could be put to increased use. AMP is committed to maximizing the value of all our assets and services, so the alterations that we will be making to our system are a high priority.

The Oracle upgrade will drive internal efficiencies, increase plant optimization and help align organizational stakeholders.

Strong partnerships for advancing and advocating for public power

I recently read a quote by Idowu Koyenikan, an author and business consultant, that I believe makes the case for collaboration in public power advocacy. Koyenikan states, “There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests gets together to work toward the same goals.”

In my opinion, Koyenikan’s thought on partnership and collaboration is spot on when it comes to public power advocacy and the need to collaborate with like-minded organizations. AMP has strategically chosen partners to coordinate with that can help to project our members’ voices farther than we ever could alone.

Our partnership with organizations such as the American Public Power Association (APPA), Hometown Connections, Inc. (HCI), Large Public Power Council (LPPC), National Hydropower Association (NHA), Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), The Energy Authority (TEA) and the Transmission Access Policy Study (TAPS) Group, just to name a few, provides our members with greatly enhanced advocacy power and influence – more seats at the table and a louder resounding drum.

Additionally, our strategic partners help to provide best practices insights that we can share with our members, along with many resources and services set up to assist public power entities large and small. If a member community is in need of a particular resource or piece of information, it is a good bet that at least one of these organizations can provide it.

These partnerships also help provide more information about current trends and issues facing our industry. The opportunity for a continual exchange of ideas and an enhancement of our overall network of influence is a great win for all of our members.

A true extension of your team

Lastly, I would like to touch on something I have been talking about for a long time — all of our members should embrace AMP’s internal staff as a true extension of their own teams.

One of the main goals of this organization is to help our members in navigating the coming changes to our industry while maintaining the operation of a safe and reliable electric system. Making AMP staff available to our members is the only way to do that.

Are you currently taking part in planning discussions and strategic brainstorming about the future of your utility? Reach out to us and have AMP staff take part in the process.

Are you considering the merits of a newer technology like electric vehicle charging stations or energy storage? Make use of the research that our staff has conducted and the many resources that they have made available.

Above all else, everyone at AMP is here to assist your utility. As you face the coming challenges of a quickly changing industry, I encourage you to contact us and make use of all the resources, knowledge and services that we have to offer. Collaboration is vitally important, and there is no better time to start than now.

To learn more about our Strategic Plan priorities and the many services we have to offer, please visit our Services page or view the AMP Annual Report on the AMP website.