Between the lines: Working with or against the crystal ball

Dawson Public Power District General Manager Gwen Kautz.

Dawson Public Power District General Manager Gwen Kautz.

By Gwen Kautz
General Manager

As CEO, I’m working with Dawson PPD’s board and staff to set a clear path for the organization’s future. Since public power has restrictions on what it can do per state statute, the core business does not change. So it wouldn’t be what we are doing but rather how we are doing it. The board recently adopted six strategic initiatives that will be our roadmap for the next three years:

  1. Develop a long-term comprehensive financial plan.
  2. Craft a long-term revenue growth plan.
  3. Create a long-term plan to maintain and increase system reliability.
  4. Continue improvement and emphasis on safety.
  5. Look at strategic processes and succession planning for replacing board members and general manager.
  6. Create a catastrophic business continuity plan.

It is our intent to put the initiative activities into the 2021 budget for board approval in November. Some pieces may not get approved, but the option won’t be completely discarded…it may show up in the 2022 budget.

Initiatives #1 & #3

I will cover initiatives 1 and 3 in another column. These items are more complex, go hand-in-hand and require a long-term look at Dawson PPD’s overall future.

Initiative #2

Developing additional or improved revenue growth is not tied to rate increases. Rate increases need to be the last resort. Instead, we will look at electric vehicles and charging stations, pole attachments, renewable options and others that are allowed by state statute.

Initiative #4

While safety isn’t a new goal at all, it is one that must be showcased. There are always changes in this industry, whether it’s regulations or equipment. Since safety is our top priority, then this initiative should always get the attention it deserves.

Initiative #5

Some things are easier than others to quantify. Initiative #5 is one of those that is difficult to measure. What does it take to be a Dawson PPD board member? Dawson PPD must be their electric provider. Our directors are broken into service divisions for equal representation. Board seats are filled for six-year terms and our customers can vote on them in a general election. Board members must have ample time to attend not only board meetings but industry meetings in general. Some of those are held in-state and some are regional or national meetings. There’s plenty of director classes along the way so that also takes up time. Fostering a passion for public power principles and values happens along the way.

Initiative #6

This one may seem like it’s a reaction from our Covid-19 experience, but these initiatives were developed in January well before the virus made an appearance. The type of coordination you need amongst departments and individuals to keep our company operating without an interruption to our business or your electricity service – let alone throwing in some kind of ‘situation’ that moves everyone’s cheese – is amazing.

Taking a 30,000-foot view of this company isn’t easy for a non-linear thinker like me. It’s absolutely necessary, but those unknown influences end up being assumptions. And we all know what ‘assume’ really means. I look forward to seeing our completed roadmap and how it benefits our customers.


August 2020

What our customers say

An informed customer is our greatest asset.