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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.

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