(308) 324-2386
Gwen Kautz, Dawson PPD General Manager

Gwen Kautz

General Manager

Running a rural electric distribution system like Dawson Public Power District requires facing various forms of adversity, from storms to equipment failures, financial impacts of inflation on supply chain constraints and misunderstood practices. But there are simple ways to tackle these issues and keep the lights on for our customers.

  1. Be Ready for Anything: We prepare for emergencies by maintaining our equipment and having plans in place. This way, when something goes wrong, we can fix it quickly and keep the power flowing.
  2. Team Up: We work with other utilities to help each other out during tough times. By lending a hand and sharing resources, we can overcome obstacles together. Dawson PPD doesn’t just provide help via line workers, we also help other PPDs (and they help us) with communication, policies, training, procedures, practices and information technology.
  3. Stay Flexible: The electric industry is always changing, so we must be ready to adapt. Whether it’s new rules/regulations or new technology, we’re always looking for ways to improve.
  4. Take Care of Each Other: We make sure our team is supported and healthy, so they can do their best work. That means offering up-to-date equipment that functions accordingly, training and equipment to enhance safety, even counseling and wellness programs to help employees cope with stress.
  5. Planning Ahead: It takes a team to put an ongoing and perpetual plan together that looks at future needs, challenges in the industry overall, impacted resource coordination, employee training, and equipment maintenance.
  6. Remember Why We’re Here: We’re not just here to keep the lights on; we’re here to serve our customers. By staying focused on our mission and working together, we can overcome any challenge that comes our way.
  7. Use Our Strengths: Everyone on our team brings something special to the table. By working together and using our skills, we can solve problems and keep moving forward.

For example, in our departments:

  • Safety is our priority;
  • Powerline Operations coordinates and maintains the system,
  • Purchasing monitors inventory and makes sure crews have what is needed;
  • Engineering provides design and function of the transmission and distribution facilities,
  • Customer Service ensures adequate communication keeps our customers informed of district activities,
  • Information Technology keeps the network, computers and interfaces running smoothly and last but not least,
  • Finance keeps the wheels in motion for absolutely everything listed above.

Most of our customers might assume our challenges lie in storm restoration work but that’s only a small part of adversity. Managing finances efficiently during adverse situations is crucial for controlling rates. This involves strategic budgeting, prioritizing investments, and seeking cost-saving measures to maintain financial stability and minimize the impact on consumers.

Supply chain delays impact production schedules and customer satisfaction. Mitigating such challenges requires proactive communication, diversifying suppliers, and optimizing and planning inventory management to minimize disruptions and maintain operational continuity. At no time do we consider inferior replacement products as that significantly impacts safety and reliability.

I’ve only mentioned a few of the obvious things that impact our business, our system, our budget, and our employees.

In short, by being prepared, working together, staying flexible, taking care of each other, staying focused on our mission, and using our strengths, we can (and have) overcome any challenge and continue to provide reliable electricity to our communities and customers.


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