WASHINGTON, D.C., April 7, 2014 — Bryan Texas Utilities is the only public power utility in Texas, and one of only 29 of the nation’s more than 2,000 public power utilities, to earn the Reliable Public Power Provider RP3 Diamond Award designation from the American Public Power Association for 2014. This award recognizes community-owned utilities like BTU for providing consumers with the highest degree of reliable and safe electric service. Brent McKinney, chair of APPA’s RP3 Review Panel, presented the designees on April 7 during the association’s annual Engineering & Operations Technical Conference held in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The RP3 designation honors public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development and system improvement. Criteria within each category are based on sound business practices and represent a utility-wide commitment to safe and reliable delivery of electricity. The RP3 designation lasts for three years, so the 94 utilities that earned any level of RP3 designation this year join the 90 that received it last year.
“RP3 utilities are providing a high level of value and service to communities all over the country,” said McKinney, “These 94 designees stand out as models of safe, reliable and forward-thinking utility operations.”
Utilities can be awarded Gold, Platinum or Diamond level RP3 designation. The Diamond level is the highest achievable designation which means that a utility met at least 98% of all the qualifying criteria. Bryan Texas Utilities is one of only 29 utilities nationwide to earn the coveted Diamond-level designation this year, and is one of only two providers in Texas to currently hold the Diamond designation.
“The BTU Board and I could not be more proud of Gary Miller and his dedicated staff for having earned this recognition. To be the only Texas provider earning RP3’s top-tier Diamond status this year, and one of just 29 providers earning Diamond status in the US this year, is truly exceptional,” says Carl Benner, Chairman of the BTU Board of Directors.
“The RP3 process grades multiple factors that affect how well BTU does its job, to provide safe and reliable power, both now and in the future. Earning Diamond status says BTU does it really well.”
“We’re honored to receive the RP3 designation,” said Gary Miller, General Manager of Bryan Texas Utilities. “Our utility staff puts in a lot of hard work to serve this community. RP3 represents a much appreciated recognition of this hard work.”
This is the tenth year that RP3 recognition has been offered. APPA is the national organization representing more than 2,000 not-for-profit, community- and state- owned electric utilities. It is located in Washington, D.C.
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About the RP3 Designation
The RP3 program recognizes utilities that demonstrate high proficiency in reliability, safety, work force development and system improvement. Criteria within each of the four RP3 areas are based upon sound business practices and recognized industry leading practices.
The term “reliable” is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as an adjective that means: can be relied on; dependable; trustworthy; and worthy of confidence. Although these are all true in context, reliability of an electric system goes deeper than just defining the results that are evident through reliable day-to-day service. Key elements of the Reliability section include reliability indices, a mutual aid agreement, a system-wide disaster management plan (emergency response plan), and both cyber and physical security.
Workers’ safety starts with the utility’s safety program. A culture of safety must be created. This commitment to safety must begin with top management and include safety in all aspects of operations from generation to line work, and all utility services in between. Benchmarking of safety statistics by tracking industry-accepted OSHA incident rates, along with focusing on frontline workers, is crucial to the delivery of safe and reliable electricity. In the RP3 program, each utility must prove that it uses an accepted safety manual and follows safe work practices, among other requirements.
Training employees, whether through traditional avenues such as workshops and college courses or through in-house programs, demonstrates that a utility values its work force. However, education alone is only one of the important considerations a utility should embrace when developing and maintaining a sound work force. This section intends to cover this broader scope of work force development. Utilities benefit from providing opportunities for staff to network with other utility representatives throughout the nation and encourage them to get involved in the national perspective of utility relations. Utility staff knowledge increases through membership in state, regional, and nationally focused committees, as well as attendance in conferences and training. RP3 applicants must demonstrate that their utility staff attend applicable industry conferences and workshops, are provided educational and career development opportunities, are active either directly or indirectly on industry committees, and that the utility has engaged in work force development and succession planning initiatives.
Stewardship of utility assets is essential to ensuring long term system reliability and performance. Keeping an electric utility system well maintained and up-to-date by mandating an improvement program that includes both an eye on the future through research and development (R&D) and a commitment to system betterment programs can help utilities provide reliable services in the future. Important items in this section include demonstrating that your utility participates in a national, regional, or local R&D program, involvement in energy efficiency or conservation programs, descriptions of system planning and betterment projects to maintain your system’s integrity and efficiency.