Execution - Not Strategy - Key to Utility Success, Author Tells EUCG Workshop

Oct 22, 2007, 01:00 ET from EUCG

    DENVER, Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Execution of a corporate strategy is
 more fundamental to the success of a company than the strategy itself.
 Without executing the strategy, nothing happens -- ideas and plans
 disintegrate, author and business consultant Sam Geist told attendees at
 EUCG's fall 2007 workshop here Oct. 1-3.
     EUCG is a global association of energy and electric utility
 professionals who discuss current and emerging industry issues, share best
 practices and exchange data for benchmarking purposes.
     "Electric utilities are not unlike other industries when it comes to
 the use of strategy to achieve corporate objectives. They forget it must be
 implemented to make a difference," said Geist, whose book "Execute ... or
 Be Executed" will be released this fall. "Organizations have the propensity
 to strategize first, then worry about execution as a mere afterthought.
 This is often a setup for failure," Geist told the EUCG audience.
 "Companies should first formulate an objective, vision or goal and then
 develop the execution plan to achieve it. Execution is the strategy."
     "Change management is a topic EUCG has prioritized in its workshops
 over the last few years," said Stephen Saunders, EUCG president and
 Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) general manager of benchmarking. "Our
 industry has undergone almost perpetual change over the last decade in
 response to an ever- evolving regulatory climate. Sam's suggestions come at
 a crucial time as our member-companies are faced with continuing regulatory
 uncertainty, especially in the environmental and rate-making arenas."
     Geist encouraged EUCG members to accept the challenge of change and to
 view it as a dynamic and integral part of a healthy organization.
 "Organizations should change before they have to change," said EUCG Vice
 President Mark Derry of Exelon (NYSE:   EXC). "Several of our members
 commented during our workshop that it is best to manage change under your
 terms rather than have change manage you."
     EUCG welcomed 165 workshop participants from more than 60 utilities,
 including five foreign countries, to its fall workshop, said George W.
 Sharp, EUCG international marketing director, of American Electric Power
 (NYSE:   AEP). "Workshop participants focused not only on change management
 topics, but other important utility issues such as how to deal with the
 industry's aging infrastructure," Sharp said.
     Each committee pursued individual workshop agendas, including:
       -- Nuclear Committee:  This committee's workshop was attended by more
          than 85 percent of North American nuclear plant operators as well as
          companies from Japan and Spain.  Representatives from the
          International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Institute and the
          Institute of Nuclear Power Operations also attended.  Presentations
          during the workshop included discussions on outsourcing and the
          impact of deregulation on cost and reliability, interactive panels on
          work-force planning and communication improvements, and breakout
          sessions about current industry issues.  Entergy's Continuous
          Improvement Process, which was the 2007 NEI Top Industry Producer
          (TIP) award winner, was also presented.  In addition, the Denver Mint
          provided an overview of their operations and processes.  David Ward,
          EUCG Nuclear Committee chair from Duke Power (NYSE:   DUK), stated,
          "This workshop provided a broad range of topics and allowed the
          attendees to have lively discussions about current business-related
          items in the nuclear energy industry."
       -- Fossil Committee:  This committee focused on issues surrounding the
          management of aging plants; specifically, how to best maintain
          reliability and environmental compliance.  Other issues discussed
          included heat rate improvement programs and turbine-generator
          overhaul practices.  The membership was presented with the results of
          an EUCG-sponsored industry survey regarding station inventory and
          detailed maintenance staffing.  A presentation by Jeff Parsley, TVA's
          Shawnee Plant manager, focused on the processes and strategies used
          in Shawnee Unit 6's impressive 1,093-day consecutive run.  "The
          Fossil Committee continues to see increased workshop attendance.
          Members continue to focus our committee's benchmarking and best
          practices efforts on management of aging plant infrastructure and the
          ever-changing environmental compliance regulatory front," said James
          Patrick, Fossil Committee chair, from Ameren (NYSE:   AEE).
       -- Information Technology (IT) Committee:  This committee, formed in
          2006, reviewed the results of its first benchmarking study.  The IT
          Committee has progressed over the last year by establishing and
          normalizing its metrics and has identified ongoing benchmarking
          improvement opportunities.  Members also heard briefings on key IT
          issues, such as deployment of the Service Management process and
          migration to Office 2007 and Vista.  The chief information officer of
          Pennsylvania's PPL utility also gave an insightful presentation on
          aligning IT with the business.  The committee plans to expand its
          membership in 2008.  Other plans include refining benchmarking data
          gathering and sharing processes and greater emphasis on best
          practices around utilities' integration of the IT function within
          their core business.  "Our committee continues to grow and prosper.
          We are providing a unique forum in which utility IT benchmark data
          and best practices are shared, discussed and used by our members'
          companies to improve service levels and reduce costs.  Since we are
          nonprofit, we can accomplish this at a very low cost compared with
          other IT benchmarking services," said Jack Flack, IT Committee chair,
          from TVA.
       -- Hydroelectric Committee:  Committee attendees developed proposals to
          include staffing data, and to improve how administration costs are
          submitted, in the EUCG database.  In addition, workshop participants
          were presented with information on the use of regression analysis to
          assist with analyzing the data more effectively.  Among other items
          addressed were staffing issues, including programs used to manage the
          aging hydroelectric work force, and how the U.S. Army Corps of
          Engineers uses the EUCG Hydro Committee database in their
          benchmarking efforts.  "The Hydro Committee concluded a successful
          fall workshop.  We represent one of the few organized groups of
          utility hydro professionals that meet regularly to vet industry
          issues and compare performance," said Bruce Fraser, Hydro Committee
          chair, from Pacific Gas & Electric Company (NYSE:   PCG).
     EUCG will hold its 2008 spring workshop in San Antonio, Texas, April
 13-16. All energy professionals are invited. Interested parties should
 visit the EUCG website (http://www.eucg.org) for more information.
     About EUCG: EUCG is a global association of energy and electric utility
 professionals who discuss current and emerging industry issues, share best
 practices and exchange data for benchmarking purposes. The 35-year-old
 association is organized into five separate committees that represent
 specific utility functions: Transmission & Distribution (T&D), Fossil
 Plants, Hydro Plants, Nuclear Plants, and Information Technology (IT)
 departments. Members attend semiannual workshops that focus on strategic
 planning, maintenance practices, operations management, outage management
 and various other aspects of the electric utility business. Membership is
 open to all utility companies and professionals worldwide. Interested
 parties should contact Pat Kovalesky, EUCG Executive Director, at
 1-623-572-4140. Email: eucgexec@cox.net. Website: http://www.eucg.org.