Hometown Connections Performance Management
The staff of Hometown Connections is in high demand for expertise in utility best practices. Hometown Connections’ services include strategic planning facilitation, board governance and development, market research, coaching of RP3 program applicants, and the popular Check Up series.
Products & Services
Utility Management Consulting & Research Services
For advice from professionals who have worked with more than 900 APPA members, bring in the consulting team from Hometown Connections. Hometown Connections staff and industry colleagues help public power systems improve organizational, operational, and marketing effectiveness.
Hometown Connections offers a variety of integrated consulting services for public power managers and governing officials:
Strategic Planning Facilitation, Training and Development
Public power managers and governing officials must combine attention to daily operational issues with establishing long-term plans and guidelines on which to base budgets and priorities. Through onsite facilitation, workshops and follow-up consultations, Hometown Connections covers the principles of effective strategic planning and reviews the roles and responsibilities of the staff and governing board in the planning and implementation process. The Hometown staff works in depth with the utility board and staff to develop a realistic, step-by-step blueprint for adapting to specific market conditions, regulatory changes, and the complex expectations of customers. Hometown can also facilitate the updating of your existing strategic plan.
Utility Governance Training/Facilitation
To be effective, today’s public power governing boards and city council members should maintain a clear understanding of complex issues, including new federal regulations, new technologies, volatile wholesale energy markets, state and local government budget pressures, and the need to attract younger workers with the right skill sets. They also need to understand their roles and responsibilities as stewards of the electric utility. Hometown staff briefs governing officials on industry conditions and offers training on how to work with, and guide, the utility staff.
Customer & Employee Research
Hometown Connections & GreatBlue Research, Inc. are partnering to deliver actionable customer intelligence, under the Hometown Connections umbrella. The firms are combining Hometown’s deep knowledge of public power utility management best practices with the research design, analysis, and reporting expertise of GreatBlue Research. Together, the firms are closely integrating customer & employee research with Hometown’s strategic planning, facilitation, organization assessment and other consulting services. Many organizations collect information from their constituents yet struggle to make meaningful business decisions. This service helps APPA members identify and support the needs of public power communities through reliable research.
To help APPA members maintain a talented and motivated executive workforce, Hometown Connections is launching a Compensation Studies service in early 2016. APPA members will work with Hometown Connections to determine the market value of senior executive positions through compensation studies that are specific to the electric utility industry and region of the U.S. With the support of the energy workforce experts at MFP-Connect™, Hometown Connections arranges for a certified compensation consultant to offer a public power utility two service options: 1) a custom survey of executive compensation packages—collecting data and analyzing the results; or 2) a market pricing study based on existing compensation survey data purchased from a publisher by the utility. The final report includes a comprehensive market analysis and salary recommendations for review by the governing board and senior staff of the utility. The process enables APPA members to determine how much other utilities are paying for specific executive jobs. Surveyed positions include general manager and director of engineering, as well as senior managers for power supply/transmission/regulatory policy, IT/information systems, and finance/accounting.
Organization Check Up
Through the Organization Check Up (OCU), Hometown Connections provides a quick and cost-effective assessment of key areas of utility management and operations, including customer service, community relations, accounting & finance, power supply, distribution technology, rates, cyber security, employee safety, governance, and human resources. A typical OCU includes 2 days onsite at the utility followed by a written report that documents strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, as well as specific recommendations for improvement.
Distribution Check Up
For the Distribution Check Up, the Hometown Connections staff reviews the maintenance plans for the primary elements of the distribution system, planning for new construction, evaluating statistics for system performance, and analyzing reliability indices, outage planning, staff development, and safety/security programs.
Cybersecurity Check Up
The Cybersecurity Check Up with N-Dimension Solutions addresses the protection of public power’s critical infrastructure.
The common denominator to the Check Up services from Hometown Connections is the provision of realistic recommendations the utility can implement in the near term to improve performance and which can also provide the foundation for developing a long-range strategic plan.
To help public power electric utilities apply for certification by the American Public Power Association’s Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3®) program, industry veteran Paul H. Allen, P.E., is serving as an RP3 Coach. Allen is retired from the Nashville, Tenn., Electric Service as Vice President, Operations (Engineering) and was a member of APPA’s RP3 Panel from 2005 through 2012, serving as chairman from 2009 to 2012. Being recognized by the RP3 program demonstrates to community leaders, governing board members, suppliers, and service providers a utility’s commitment to excellence. Allen is helping public power utilities of all sizes evaluate their RP3 readiness and prepare or review their applications, enabling more APPA members to receive the RP3 designation.
APPA’s Customer Service Manual
To help public power utilities build a strong customer service culture, the APPA Product Store has released Customer Service-Building a Strong Infrastructure For Your Utility. This 38-page manual, written by Steve VanderMeer of Hometown Connections, examines the critical role that customer service plays in the public power industry. It’s a must-read for those directly involved in customer services, as well as general managers and policymakers, because those at the top of an organization set the standard for customer service excellence.
Steve VanderMeer Teaches “Strategic Planning for Long-Term Utility Effectiveness”
APPA’s National Conference & Public Power Expo 2013, Nashville, Tennessee