2020 Tacoma Power Highlights
Tacoma Power provided affordable, reliable electricity to our customers while ensuring their physical and financial wellbeing through COVID-19 safety protocols, offering emergency assistance programs, and exceptional customer service during a global pandemic.
Tacoma Power is a citizen-owned electric utility that has generated, transmitted, and distributed electricity from clean energy to our community for over 125 years. In 2020, we served approximately 184,600 customers compared to 182,000 in 2019. Utility staff continued to provide affordable, reliable electricity to customers even during a global pandemic. As a result, Tacoma Power provided 99 percent availability to our customers in 2020.
Acting From Our Values
We introduced our new 2021-2025 strategic plan with a refreshed vision, mission, and values. The plan empowers us to fulfill our Guiding Principle of Community Value First, and our mission (what we do) of We provide affordable and reliable electric services. Our new vision (who we want to be) is aspirational: Be an equitable 21st century utility where employees want to grow, and customers want to stay.
Our values (how we behave) are the foundation for all we do:
- Be safe, always
- Learn and be curious
- Do the right thing, even when it’s hard
- Take care of things for future generations
- Rely on and respect each other
Be Safe, Always
Over the past few years, we intentionally focused on strengthening our safety culture. As a result, when we entered the COVID-19 global pandemic in March 2020, our leaders were presented with the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to ensuring the safety of our customers and employees. Safety efforts included implementing COVID-19 pandemic safety protocols for the essential workers reporting to campus and interacting with members of our community. Safety efforts also included maintaining the physical wellbeing of our customers through immediately implementing a moratorium on service disconnections, delaying repayments, and successfully petitioning for $2M in federal funds for Emergency Assistance Programs to support our customers financially through the economic crisis.
Learn and be Curious
We innovate and create by having a mindset of curiosity. Learning and curiosity are the backbones of our technology modernization work and our use of data analytics. This year, we improved the customer experience, operational excellence, and resilience by implementing technologies that empower our customers with choices and our employees with data. The core value of learning was critical during the sudden and dramatic change in working conditions following the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, our essential workers continuously adapted to ever-changing circumstances and adopted appropriate safety protocols. In addition, our remote workers learned new software, including Office365 and Zoom, to ensure work continued without a pause.
Do the Right Thing, Even When it’s Hard
When we decided to pursue joining the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM), we did so after thorough and careful consideration. The benefits of joining the EIM include generating cost savings to help keep rates low for our customers, increasing our ability to trade with our partners, and using our flexible hydroelectric energy to balance variable renewables (for example, wind and solar) into the grid. But achieving these benefits would require years of preparation, including replacing legacy systems, completing software designs, developing internal tools, and training employees on new processes and procedures. Nevertheless, our EIM program staff continued to meet critical deadlines throughout this first preparatory year, positioning the utility for successful entry into the Western EIM in March 2022.
Take Care of Things for Future Generations
Being good stewards of our natural environment is a top priority which entails caring for our present earth and doing our part to make it healthy for the future. In 2020, we made national news by creating the first lower-cost rate supporting the local production of electrofuels, a carbon-neutral replacement for traditional fossil fuels. Electrofuels are typically made of air, water, and electricity.
After years of planning and hard work, we celebrated the return of sockeye to the North Fork Skokomish River for the first time in almost a century! We achieved this incredible accomplishment in collaboration with our Generation and Natural Resources teams, the Skokomish Tribe, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Rely on and Respect Each Other
One of the joys of being a hydro utility is providing recreational areas for the communities in which our infrastructure exists. These outdoor areas became even more cherished during the pandemic, providing safe locations for boating, fishing, camping, and nature watching. We welcomed 379,082 people who visited Tacoma Power parks in 2020 (even with multiple pandemic-related closures) versus 366,953 in 2019. In addition to caring for our boat launches, individual and group campsites, kitchen shelters, and picnic areas, we also care for the local environment.
This year proved our ability and commitment to providing reliable and affordable energy service to our customers. In addition, the global pandemic has demonstrated how critical it is to center our Guiding Principle – Community Value First – in everything we do.