Hometown Connections, Inc. (HCI) CEO and President Tim Blodgett is stepping down after more than 20 years at the municipal utility service provider. He announced on Thursday his intention to step down by the end of 2021. The HCI Board of Directors will begin a nationwide recruitment to fill the position.
On August 30 at the 2021 Annual Conference in Fort Collins, Colorado, Hometown Connections announced award winners in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the organization and to community-owned utilities.
The success of the public power business model depends on utility managers receiving clear guidance from engaged and well-trained governing boards. A high-performing governing board can be one of the utility’s most valuable assets. To be successful, these officials must understand their responsibilities, stay current on industry challenges, and serve as ambassadors for public power by promoting the value of living and working in communities that deliver their own utility services.
Front page headlines, consumer panic, political fallout, and a $5 million ransom paid. The attack on the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S. is focusing attention on the vulnerability of our energy infrastructure like never before. With people lining up at gas stations when facing only a few days of a shortage, imagine the reaction to the local electric grid being down for who knows how long. It’s beyond time for all municipalities and their utility departments to build out their cyber defenses.
To provide customers with several payment options, the Utilities Department of the Village of Jackson Center in Ohio accepts bank account direct and credit card payments. To ensure the security of customer information and thwart cyber intrusions overall, Jackson Center took advantage of cybersecurity services offered by its electric service wholesale supplier, American Municipal Power, Inc. (AMP). With the help of an assessment conducted by AMP personnel, Jackson Center has developed a culture of cyber vigilance and addresses vulnerabilities through an effective step-by-step process that is manageable for a small staff.
Utilities in the United States are prime targets for cyber attack. Criminals are hijacking utility information systems and demanding ransom for their release. Nation states and other bad actors are rehearsing ways to interrupt utility services and throw the nation into chaos. Community-owned utilities of all sizes and structures must shore up their cyber defenses. This article presents the top 10 cybersecurity considerations for community utilities and their city departments.
As reported on the website of the San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative (SLVREC) of Monte Vista, CO, fifteen of SLVREC’s residential members recently took part in a stakeholder engagement process by attending three focus groups. Facilitated by Charise Swanson of Hometown Connections, all meetings were conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The participants were representative of the entire SLVREC service area and included complainants from a 2019 PUC complaint.
The City of Piqua, Ohio, is dedicated to providing the highest level of service to its nearly 11,000 electric customers, applying regularly for the designation of Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) by the American Public Power Association. Being recognized by the RP3 program demonstrates a utility’s commitment to excellence in reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement. To ensure best practice compliance within the cybersecurity portion of the RP3 application submitted in September 2020, the Piqua Power System hired the team from Hometown Connections, Inc., to perform a cybersecurity assessment.
Due to recent news coverage of a major cyber penetration of U.S. government agencies and corporations across the globe, cybersecurity is front and center for city governments and their municipal utility departments. Before reaching out to consultants prepared to help evaluate cyber vulnerabilities and design a protection program, each community-owned utility should gather a baseline of information about their cybersecurity status. This outline will help the utility and potential consultants focus more quickly on the issues to be addressed.
Like your public power peers, you must map out your utility’s future through a rocky terrain. But you don’t have much time or the budget to commit to an elaborate endeavor. That’s why Hometown Connections has perfected a simple technique for evaluating your operations and determining your priorities and goals for the next five years. Our facilitators will lead your team through a process to assist you in solidifying a clear and unified future direction for your utility.