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Strategic Directives

It is a time of monumental change in the utility industry. Utilities must embrace innovation and move quickly to find new and better ways to deliver affordable, reliable, and environmentally sensitive services to its customers.

With this in the mind, the Tacoma Public Utility Board launched policy development of Government Process, Board-Director Linkage, and Strategic Directives.

The Government Process Policies are processes for how the Board will govern itself. The Board-Director linkage policies clarify how the Board expects the Director of the Utilities to carry out the work of TPU. The Strategic Directives capture the performance for which the Board will hold TPU accountable on behalf of its ratepayers.

As Strategic Directives are adopted by the Board, we will share them here and provide information on the purpose, values, outcomes, measurement, and reporting for each one.

Strategic Directive: Equity and Inclusion

Adopted Aug. 28, 2019

Purpose

TPU is committed to achieving equity and inclusion in its workforce, service delivery, policy decision making, and community/stakeholder engagement.

Values

  1. TPU serves all rate payers and residents without regard to race, color, sex, religion, creed, age, marital status, national origin, citizenship status, sexual orientation, gender identity, veterans status, or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.
  2. TPU values diversity and what each individual brings to TPU and the community.
  3. TPU believes equity is achieved when everyone has access to the resources and opportunities necessary to satisfy their essential needs, advance their well-being, and achieve their full potential.
  4. TPU will work to be inclusive, building a culture of involvement, respect, and connection where the richness of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives are harnessed to create value.
  5. The TPU Board supports the Tacoma City Council Resolution 39019 Equity and Empowerment Initiative Framework and is committed to its five primary goals:
      • The City of Tacoma workforce reflects the community it serves;
      • Purposeful community outreach and engagement;
      • Equitable service delivery to all residents and visitors;
      • Support human rights and opportunities for everyone to achieve their full potential;
      • Commitment to equity in local government decision-making.

Read more about this strategic directive.

Strategic Directive: Financial Sustainability

Adopted Aug. 28, 2019

Purpose

TPU will secure its commitment to provide safe and reliable power, water, and rail services over the long term by maintaining sustainable budget, financial, and asset management practices.

Values

  1. TPU believes long-term financial planning that accounts for internal and external risks results in sustainable utilities budgets and reasonably stable utilities rates.
  2. TPU values responsible stewardship and recognizes that utilities bills are paid by customers and resulting revenue is therefore limited.  Each biennial budget must therefore be carefully and reasonably limited.
  3. TPU believes financial, business, and capital planning should be based on regularly updated forecasts.
  4. TPU believes it is prudent to pay for long-lived capital assets by spreading the costs over the life of those assets.
  5. TPU believes prudent and stable financial and business planning anticipates unexpected future events by requiring adequate cash reserves and insurance.
  6. TPU values good stewardship of utilities rates paid by customers by leveraging external funding sources where prudent.

Read more about this strategic directive.

Strategic Directive: Rates

Adopted Aug. 28, 2019

Purpose

TPU rates for power, water, and rail services play an important role in securing a strong economy, establishing equity among customers, and producing revenue sufficient to provide safe, reliable, and environmentally-sensitive utilities services.  TPU strives to ensure rates will be adequate, fair, just, and reasonable.

Values

  1. TPU values utilities rates that produce sustainable and sufficient revenue to ensure reliable utility operations while meeting all debt-service requirements.
  2. TPU values fair and just utilities rates that equitably assign costs of providing services to each customer class.
  3. TPU values proactive community engagement as part of proposed rate adjustments.
  4. TPU values planning gradual and consistent utility rate changes that are stable and predictable over the long term and avoid sudden or large changes within customer classes.

Read more about this strategic directive.

Strategic Directive: Stakeholder Engagement

Adopted Aug. 28, 2019

Purpose

TPU is committed to proactive engagement and open dialogue with customers and other stakeholders to understand their needs and improve service that informs decision-making while enhancing community understanding of TPU’s operations, programs, and services.

Values

  1. As a publicly-owned, municipal utility, TPU values the relationship with our owners (citizens of Tacoma), customers, and stakeholders.
  2. TPU believes in open and transparent governance.
  3. TPU values robust, ubiquitous, and equitable customer and stakeholder engagement throughout our service territories.
  4. TPU believes in continually evolving our customer and stakeholder engagement efforts to equitably engage customers and stakeholders in their preferred manner.
  5. TPU believes that the City of Tacoma’s General Government and other local governments within our territory are essential partners to effectively engage the communities we serve.
  6. TPU values working with community partners to better engage the diverse communities we serve.

Read more about this strategic directive.

Strategic Directive: Environmental Leadership

Adopted Jan. 8, 2020

Purpose

TPU is committed to being stewards of the region’s beautiful natural resources, and a leader in the preservation, protection, and restoration of those resources while maintaining our excellent delivery of services. It is clear that in order to ensure we fulfill our operational duties into the future we must balance our resource usage with the health of our environment.

Values

  1. The TPU Board joins the Tacoma City Council in supporting council resolution 39427, the Environmental Action Plan, and prioritizing strategies and actions for improving environmental quality. Specifically, TPU:
    • Will achieve exceptional quality of life for every generation and will leave a legacy of stewardship.
    • Will achieve lasting and equitable prosperity; build a safe, healthy, attractive, and vibrant community; and minimize negative impacts in order to conserve the natural resources that sustain it.
  2. TPU believes climate change impacts how we provide services now and will, if unabated, continue to bring instability and negative impacts to our community’s quality of life in the future. Efforts should go beyond mitigation and focus on policies to reduce atmospheric carbon.
  3. TPU believes quality of life and long-term economic prosperity are contingent on a healthy environment.
  4. TPU will provide environmental leadership as a primary stakeholder in policies dealing with water, energy, transportation or land use with a goal of restoring and preserving ecosystem health for future generations.
  5. TPU encourages employee innovation to accomplish their work in ways that reduce and mitigate environmental impacts.
  6. TPU believes that Tribal governments are partners in the restoration and stewardship of our natural resources.

Read more about this strategic directive.

Strategic Directive: Innovation

Adopted Jan. 8, 2020

Purpose

Tacoma Public Utilities faces complex challenges including aging infrastructure, shifting workforce dynamics, uncertain sources of supply, changing regulatory requirements, dynamically changing markets and rising customer expectations.  TPU is committed to fostering a culture of innovation to meet these challenges today and into the future.  Innovation refers to fresh thinking that creates value for customers, including:

  • Improved processes, policies and ways of doing business
  • New or enhanced products and services
  • New technologies and infrastructure

An innovative culture will enable an environment of creativity, experimentation and incubation to achieve new approaches to serve our customers, manage assets, finance investments and realize superior utility performance with the added benefit of enhancing sustainability.

Values

  1. TPU will strive to become a driver for utility innovation and not just a consumer of innovative products. We support our employees’ freedom to pursue innovative processes, procedures, products, programs, and operational technologies that provide value propositions for our customers and communities in order for TPU to remain competitive long term.
  2. The Public Utility Board and senior management encourage measured risk taking while balancing opportunity and benefits to ensure that new ideas are pursued with strict discipline through analysis, sound technical data and good management oversight.
  3. The Public Utility Board encourages highly collaborative projects and initiatives including those with external agencies, experts, academic institutions, and corporations to support the development of innovative solutions.
  4. TPU believes stakeholder engagement is essential to the development of sustainable products and services. TPU will incorporate customer feedback when appropriate into the design and development of new ideas or projects through research and outreach to ensure solutions address needs.

Read more about this strategic directive.

Strategic Directive: Reliability and Resiliency

Adopted June 24, 2020

Purpose

Tacoma Public Utilities will reliably deliver to its customers the power, water and rail services they need and will rebound quickly from all interruptions in such service delivery.

Values

  1. Reliable delivery of adequate power, water and rail service to customers is necessary to support the lives, health, and businesses of TPU customers and is one of TPU’s highest priorities.
  2. TPU believes long-term strategic planning, including resource planning, financial planning and asset management planning, will ensure infrastructure, facilities and personnel sufficient to meet TPU’s reliability and resilience goals within budget and rate limitations.
  3. Utility-wide planning for continuation of operations and restoration of utility service in response to naturally occurring or man-made threats and hazards is necessary to ensure restoration of essential utility functions after such events as quickly as possible and the restoration of full utility services in a reasonable period of time.
  4. TPU should strive to be a regional leader in planning and response to naturally occurring or man-made threats and hazards to the communities in which it operates.

Read more about this strategic directive.

Strategic Directive: Telecom

Adopted June 24, 2020

Purpose

Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) owns a hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) network, portions of which it uses for its own operational needs and leases out the excess capacity to generate incremental economic value for the electric utility.  The Telecom Strategic Directive directs the full utilization of the capability and capacity of the HFC network to ensure maximize return on investment, continued public ownership of the HFC network, and value creation for the public and communities served.

TPU is changing the scope of the past Click! public – private partnership, so the private partner can provide the retail video services in a quickly evolving technology and business environment. The industry standard for this model consists of the network owner, Tacoma Power, granting an Indefeasible Right to Use the network’s capacity that is not required for power system needs. Tacoma Power will retain network maintenance responsibilities locating, splicing, repair and relocation on the portion of the network that includes power system functions.

Policy Goals

  1. Continuing public ownership of the telecommunications assets, especially those assets necessary for Tacoma Power operations;
  2. Ensuring geographically, economically, and technologically equitable access;
  3. Creating affordable access for low-income customers to telecommunication services;
  4. Enforcing net neutrality principles for all customers;
  5. Allowing open access to telecommunication assets by other telecommunication providers, to the extent such access benefits customers;
  6. Preserving competition among telecommunication providers that benefits customers (such as high-quality, technologically up-to-date, and reasonably priced telecommunication services), including restricting transfer of ownership or operations that reduce competition;
  7. Safeguarding the use of telecommunications services by Tacoma Power, the City, and other local governments;
  8. Maintaining financial stability of the business operations utilizing TPU telecommunications infrastructure;
  9. Promoting economic development and educational opportunities;
  10. Protecting customer privacy; and
  11. Preserving market-leading customer service for telecommunications customers.

Read more about this strategic directive.

Strategic Directive: Economic Development

Adopted June 24, 2020

Purpose

The Utilities are an asset that can aid in improved quality of life for all TPU customers and stakeholders. TPU supplies critical resources to the communities it serves, and provides the foundation for building a strong and resilient economy, which will ultimately result in more revenue for TPU.

Values

  1. Support of economic growth and family wage jobs through efforts aimed at increasing TPU’s retail sales.
  2. Increasing the quality of life indicators for TPU’s customers and stakeholders, including addressing issues of equity, diversity, inclusivity, environmental justice and economic mobility.
  3. Ensuring TPU is an outward facing, customer focused utility.
  4. TPU will highlight the strengths of its business units and those of the region as a whole when engaging with prospective and existing businesses in order to increase regional economic activity.
  5. TPU’s positive customer experience will reasonably extend to potential and existing business customers.
  6. TPU values increasing retail sales and prioritizes removing or mitigating disincentives for new and expanding customers.
  7. TPU values the differentiation that Tacoma Rail brings by being port adjacent and one of only a handful of municipally owned railways.
  8. TPU values the development, retention and attraction of entrepreneurs and skilled talent, as key strategies to spur new and existing business with short and long-term growth opportunities.
  9. TPU values the creation and retention of employment opportunities in the region especially those that pay a living wage and provide opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Read more about this strategic directive.

Strategic Directive: Government Relations

Adopted Sept. 9, 2020

Purpose

Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) is committed to building and strengthening respectful and mutually-productive relationships with tribal, federal, state, and other local units of government in order for public policy to benefit TPU customers and to foster the outcomes set out in TPU’s Strategic Directives.

Values

  1. TPU values the relationship it has with tribal, federal, state, and other local units of government.
  2. TPU recognizes the sovereign status of Tribal Nations and is committed to consulting with those Nations on a government-to-government basis.
  3. TPU will develop, preserve and enhance government-to-government relationships through building trust, being responsive, proactive communication of relevant information and services, and collaboration based on mutual interests.
  4. TPU is committed to strong collaboration and proactive communication with the City of Tacoma’s General Government.
  5. TPU is committed to communicating and working with tribal and other government partners near outlying TPU facilities and lands and to communicating about TPU programs that benefit their communities.

Read more about this strategic directive.

Strategic Directive: Decarbonization

Adopted Sept. 9, 2020

Purpose

Tacoma Public Utilities seeks to be a leader in decarbonization of the electric utility system and transportation electrification and to promote Tacoma Power’s renewable and nearly carbon free generation portfolio as a driver of economic development and a competitive advantage for existing customers.

Values

  1. TPU is committed to advancing decarbonization of the electric utility system and transportation electrification where technically and economically feasible to meet these challenges today and into the future.
  2. Electrification of transportation can produce new markets for TPU and can provide added revenue form surplus power that can help keep rates down for all customers.
  3. The TPU Board joins the Tacoma City Council in supporting Council Resolution 40509, relating to the reality of climate change, and Council Resolution 39427, the Environmental Action Plan.
  4. TPU believes that decarbonization is a vital tool to address the public emergency of climate change, and will help to minimize harm to current and future generations.
  5. The Public Utility Board and senior management encourage measured risk taking while balancing opportunity and benefits to ensure that decarbonization and transportation electrification is pursued with strict discipline through analysis, sound technical data and good management oversight.
  6. TPU is committed to educating our customers on the benefits of decarbonization and transportation electrification.
  7. TPU is committed to decarbonizing our own operations and transitioning to electrified transportation as much as economically and operationally feasible.

Read more about this strategic directive.

Strategic Directive: Employee Relations

Adopted Sept. 23, 2020

Purpose

Tacoma Public Utilities Leadership along with the Public Utilities Board consider employees our most valuable assets.  TPU employees are the face of the utility to our customers and their dedication keeps the utility running on a day to day basis.

TPU is committed to creating and maintaining a positive, supportive environment where employees are inspired to do their best work.  This commitment ensures that all employees benefit from a safe, productive work environment, fair and equitable compensation, recognition of efforts, and the sense that they are valued.

Values

  1. TPU leaders will ensure a safe and healthy work environment for all employees.
  2. TPU will ensure consistent, fair, and equitable treatment and compensation for all employees.
  3. TPU will foster transparent, open communication and will solicit and encourage frequent, two-way communication.
  4. TPU will support, invest in and make available opportunities for career growth and development.
  5. TPU will provide an equitable work environment.

Read more about this strategic directive.

Strategic Directive: Customer Service

Adopted Sept. 23, 2020

Purpose

As a municipal utility, TPU is committed to providing the highest levels of customer services. The Public Utility Board has established this directive to ensure positive customer experiences in their interactions with TPU staff, Board Members, consultants, and sub-contractors.

Values

  1. TPU takes pride in its role as a critical services supplier for the communities it serves. TPU recognizes the impact customer service has on community relations, trust and respect.
  2. TPU customers will be treated compassionately, respectfully, and equitably.
  3. TPU customers and stakeholders will be listened to, valued and engaged with civil, professional, and timely communication in our communities most commonly used languages.

Read more about this strategic directive.

Strategic Directive: Resource Planning

Adopted Sept. 23, 2020

Purpose

Tacoma Public Utilities’ highest priority is providing safe and reliable power, water, and rail services that meet or exceed customer needs over the long term (20 to 60 years).

Values

  1. TPU values the discipline of periodically examining customer long-term utility service needs and the business and technology trends within the respective utilities industries, identifying long-term opportunities for the utility services, and developing shorter term actions that prepare for predicted resource adequacy future(s).
  2. TPU believes prudent long-term resource planning that considers anticipated customer needs and the impact of future uncertainty results in sustainable delivery of utility services, predictable budgets and reasonably stable rates.
  3. TPU values responsible stewardship and recognizes that resource decisions have financial, environmental, and customer impacts for a generation or more. Such decisions need to be based on thoughtful analyses of all the alternatives based on up-to-date data and information, including trends, risks, pros, cons, and the uncertainty of the future.
  4. TPU recognizes our customers should have access to its resource planning analyses, presented in a way that is understandable and affording customers and other stakeholders opportunities to provide input in the resource planning process.

Read more about this strategic directive.

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