On July 24, our board and several members of senior management retreated to UNO’s Community Engagement Center to revisit several aspects of our work during our board policy workshop. There was a ton of work that went into defining the purpose, flow and priorities for the day – minutia that I won’t bore you with here.
I do, however, want to provide a quick update on what we discussed and what our next steps are likely to be. The tidbits below are not all-inclusive.
Affirming & Tightening Governance
The morning was primarily spent re-affirming our approach to board governance and considering tweaks and refinements to how we function, our roles as directors, the role of senior management, and so on. Generally speaking there wasn’t much to hash over and the discussion flowed pretty smoothly.
A few months ago, the board and 11 members of senior management completed a governance assessment. The results were compared to an identical assessment completed in 2015 (prior to the creation of our suite of policies). As you can see in the results of that assessment, there’s been some great progress made. It was particularly helpful for me (as a new board member) to review those results and listen to the discussion that unfolded.
One of the most beneficial conversations was focused on our processes for reviewing and refining the Strategic Directive policies (SDs). We’re likely to make changes to this process soon, which will really help us determine when and how potential revisions to SDs will be considered.
Revisions to Strategic Directives
In the afternoon, we turned our attention to five (of the fifteen) Strategic Directives for in-depth discussions about whether or not changes are necessary. Taken individually, here’s the outcome:
SD2: Competitive Rates
The discussion largely focused on our target for rates to be 20% below the regional average. We discussed where that figure came from, who we are comparing ourselves to, and whether or not we should make the target time bound (e.g., by 2022).
Decisions and Next Steps: No decisions were made. SD will go back to an ad hoc committee for further review. The ad hoc committee will make recommendations on changes for the full board to discuss, refine, and eventually approve.
SD5: Customer Satisfaction
There was much to discuss here. The current focus of this SD is its measurement on the J.D. Power annual customer satisfaction survey for residential customers. So it excludes commercial customers, which we learned was appropriate. We also spent time discussing how we might get more transactional information on how we’re doing with regard to our more intimate interactions with customer-owners (e.g., transmission projects, solar customer installation processes, shut offs, etc.).
Decisions and Next Steps: No decisions were made. SD will go back to the Public Information Committee for further review. The Committee will make recommendations on changes for the full board to discuss, refine, and eventually approve.
SD7: Environmental Stewardship
Without any question, the board received far more customer-owner feedback on SD7 than we did on any of the other SDs. The board’s discussion largely focused on the current metric of a long-term goal of 30% of retail sales from renewable energy sources. A few directors offered perspectives on what a new goal might be. We also discussed whether or not other measurable indicators might be appropriate to include.
Decisions and Next Steps: No decisions were made. SD will go back to the Public Information Committee for further review. The Public Information Committee will make recommendations on changes for the full board to discuss.
SD9: Resource Planning
We held a fairly technical conversation about how OPPD approaches resource planning, which, in short, includes but is not limited to an Integrated Resource Plan every five years and ongoing resource planning throughout the course of each year. I was particularly interested in how we incorporate planning for distributed energy resources (DER), and we held a robust and informative discussion about how that occurs. It included a discussion of our current Strategic Initiative focused on the Integrated Energy Marketplace. We also discussed the importance of and extent to which customer-owner input is considered when resource planning.
Decisions and Next Steps: We won’t be making any changes to SD9 in the short term (<6 months). It’s on our annual schedule for review and will come back to the board in May 2018. We’ll know much more about the Integrated Energy Marketplace work at that time (as well as all of the OPPD Strategic Initiatives) and will be in a better position to consider changes then.
SD13: Stakeholder Outreach and Communication
OPPD Management came in with a draft of revised language for this SD, which was really helpful. It’s being totally rewritten to more broadly consider OPPD’s efforts related to outreach and engagement across all business lines (rather than its current focus on using energy wisely, energy efficiency, and safety).
Decisions and Next Steps: The new policy will be word-smithed and tightened up, and then it will come before the board for approval.
An Overarching Theme
One issue I haven’t mentioned yet but that was brought up in all of our aforementioned SD discussions was that of OPPD’s programs to help its customer-owners pursue energy efficiency. It’s currently mentioned in many SDs. I’m sure it will be part of the discussion as we consider changes to these and other SDs.
An important takeaway for me and all OPPD customer-owners is that we will likely soon have a clearer process for refining SDs (and other board policies) in the future. Furthermore, there is much work to be done with respect to revisions to SDs 2, 5 and 7, and the public will be given ample opportunities to weigh in as we discuss all refinements in the coming months.
Finally, I want to give a huge shout out to Kim Tracy (Corporate Secretary) and Scott Focht (Senior Director Business Strategy & Deployment), who did a great job pulling the workshop together and herding a heckuva lot of cats. They did a great job!