Between the lines: The cost of reliable power
By Gwen Kautz
Our customers have indicated that reliable power is a top priority. And who could blame them? Nobody likes to be without power. When I think about my daily activities, I’m not sure how I could be productive without it.
As a publicly owned utility, our focus is on our customers. About a decade ago, we took a serious look at our electrical distribution system and asked, “How reliable is it? Is it safe?” After some investigation, we realized that if we wanted to save time, money and keep everyone safe, we needed to make some changes to our approach.
Instead of being reactive, we decided to be proactive. There were things that needed replaced because they were beyond repair. Once those projects were out of the way, we set our sights on bigger goals.
Our goals included reducing power outage time, improving reliability and lowering overtime labor costs when responding to power outage calls after regular business hours. The last goal can vary due to the weather, but there are some things we can control.
For the past 10 years, about $135 million has been invested in Dawson PPD’s distribution system for improvements. As a result, system reliability increased from a “good” to an “excellent” rating, according to a 2019 customer satisfaction survey. We used cash we had on hand and low-interest rate bonds to pay for these projects.
The overtime labor hours caused by power outages reduced from 2,416 in 2009 to 1,343 in 2019.
We’ve seen positive results from our efforts in the past decade. You have noticed it, too. We made these investments at a rapid pace, and now that Dawson PPD’s system is more reliable than ever, it’s time to slow down.
Dawson PPD’s overall 2020 budget is about $2.5 million less than the previous year. Construction and line upgrade projects have been reduced. We are doing what we can to reduce spending, but these upgrades to our system don’t come free. That’s why the Board approved a two percent rate increase across all rate classes at the February Board Meeting. It will take effect April 1.
Your board members and the employees at Dawson PPD care about your safety and your access to reliable electricity. Thank you for trusting your elected board members to make financially sound decisions on your behalf. These decisions will ensure that Dawson PPD continues to serve you well for the next decade and beyond.