In my first few months at TPU, I made it my top priority to listen. I met with hundreds of employees, customers, and community stakeholders to hear what they need from their local utility, and to learn the 125 years of history that have gone into making this organization what it is today.
I have been consistently impressed with the levels of expertise and dedication I have seen from TPU staff, and am pleased to share the work they have led on our community’s behalf in 2018.
Two large multi-year efforts were underway in 2018: Workforce Connect and TPU Advanced Meter projects. Workforce Connect kicked off in 2018 and aims to not only replace an aging workforce management tool but will bring much-needed improved functionality. The TPU Advanced Meter project is a large-scale effort that includes replacing all existing residential power and water meters with remote-access meters. This project saw considerable progress in 2018 and will continue for several more years.
Also on the technology front, a new secure remote interactive access platform was deployed to both the utility operational and control system environments, which provides greater security and monitoring for remote systems access. Next generation firewalls were also deployed within the utility operational networks.
To continue to provide customers with the best service possible, TPU completed replacement of our bill payment kiosks that are placed at several public locations throughout our service area and offer customers additional payment options.
BUDGET & RATES PROCESS
In 2018, the City Council unanimously approved TPU’s budget and cost of service rates for the 2019-2020 biennium. The approval of this package marked the culmination of an intensive policymaker and public review process including increased public outreach that reflected thousands of hours of work done by TPU staff to make the most effective use of customer’s rates.
Tacoma Water’s rate proposal included two 2.5% average rate adjustments each year, with class-specific adjustments for industrial customers each year between -3.2% and 4.9%. Average residential customers will see bill impacts of approximately $1 per month for each of these adjustments, effective January 1, 2019 and January 1, 2020.
These funds will support:
Operating the Green River filtration facility
Maintaining 24 wells to supplement water needs, mainly during summer demand
Protecting thousands of acres in the Green River Watershed
Upgrading and maintaining 1,376 miles of water main infrastructure
Tacoma Power’s rate proposal included two 2.0% average rate adjustments each year, the first effective April 1, 2019, and the second on April 1, 2020.
These funds will support:
Operating seven hydroelectric dams and four fish hatcheries.
Purchasing electricity from the Bonneville Power Administration.
Maintaining and upgrading nearly 2,400 miles of power lines.
Keeping the electrical system secure from cyber and physical threats.
Investing in technology to comply with federal regulations, improve reliability and enhance customer service.
Improving programs to keep employees and customers safe.
In addition, a new tariff was introduced to facilitate publicly-available stations for rapid charging of electric vehicles, effective January 1, 2019.
Kicking off 2018, safety was identified as a core value, and renewed focus has been on improving safety culture within Tacoma Public Utilities. All meetings now begin with a safety moment; field crews openly talk about hazards, and safety audits are proactively conducted to identify hazards and correct them. Within Tacoma Power, Caterpillar Safety Services conducted a Safety Culture Survey for all TPU employees and made recommendations to the utility for a path forward in injury reduction. Safety also extends to the Tacoma community, and substantial efforts were made in 2018 to maintain safe, reliable drinking water.
In 2018, we investing in a management training where managers, leads and supervisors attended a 5-day workshop focused on Leadership, Engagement and Development. Our employees are one of our greatest assets, and providing them with great leadership leads to higher performance on behalf of our community.
While we have been here for 125 years, in many ways 2018 felt like we are just getting started. With new leadership, new tools to make our work more effective, and investments in infrastructure, TPU is poised for an exciting new chapter.