2014

Utilities Must Encourage 'Benchmarking Culture' as Proxy to Competition, Recommends EUCG

    SAVANNAH, Ga., April 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Electric utilities should use
 benchmarking and best practices to a much greater degree to better measure
 and validate organizational and industry performance, participants were
 told at EUCG's spring 2007 workshop here March 25-28.
     "Electric utilities must become creative to continually improve
 operational efficiency," said Stephen Saunders, EUCG president and
 Tennessee Valley Authority general manager of benchmarking. "Developing a
 'benchmarking culture' is one way to do that. Benchmarking can act as a
 proxy to competition, if utilized correctly, and identifies the performance
 gap that should be closed."
     A "benchmarking culture" is achieved by continually encouraging the use
 of benchmarking data and best practices sharing to genuinely solve
 performance problems, not just to compare yourself to others, said Douglas
 Dale, strategic manager for Detroit Edison (NYSE:   DTE), who provided the
 workshop's keynote address. "It's easy to use benchmarking as a means to an
 end by saying 'I'm better' or 'worse' than my peers. The real value is when
 you use the data to develop new processes, to determine different
 decision-making criteria, or to drive real change that leads to performance
 improvement in an organization or even an entire industry," Dale
 emphasized.
     During his presentation, Dale challenged the EUCG membership to
 consider benchmarking with other industries to learn from those whose
 competitive landscape and performance drivers are markedly different. "The
 process that an oil refinery goes through to perform routine maintenance or
 manage an outage is similar to our industry. I'm sure we could learn from
 each other," said Dale. "Though the differences in processes may be subtle,
 the outcomes of understanding and implementing these differences could have
 a huge impact on performance."
     "We encourage our membership to use EUCG to develop new and improved
 benchmarking databases, to document and communicate best practices, and to
 use all available membership resources to improve organizational outcomes,"
 said EUCG Vice President Mark Derry of Exelon (NYSE:   EXC). "In essence, we
 encourage members to leverage the benefits of EUCG as a means to create
 their own 'benchmarking culture.'"
     EUCG welcomed 170 workshop participants from more than 50 different
 utilities, including five foreign countries, to its spring workshop, said
 George W. Sharp, EUCG marketing director, of American Electric Power (NYSE:  
 AEP). "Workshop participants not only focused on presenting the most
 pressing issues facing the electric utility industry today, but also
 participated in group discussions aimed at resolving these issues," said
 Sharp. The workshop's theme, "Addressing Performance Gaps," provided the
 impetus around many of the workshop topics. According to Sharp, each EUCG
 committee developed unique agendas to address member interests, including:
     * Transmission & Distribution (T&D) Committee:  Highlights included
       discussions of the successes and challenges of adopting new
       technologies, such as distribution automation and automated metering.
       "Our industry is leveraging new technology at a very rapid pace.  It
       presents both opportunities and issues for each company.  Our members
       are sharing best practices that lead to more successful use of these new
       tools," said Joe Martucci, T&D Committee chairperson, of Public Service
       Enterprise Group (NYSE:   PEG).  Other T&D workshop topics included new
       approaches to contractor utilization, transforming the employee's safety
       culture and inventory management.
 
     * Information Technology (IT) Committee:  The committee reviewed its newly
       developed IT data model and mapped out a plan to begin collecting
       benchmarking data from EUCG member companies.  "We are well on our way
       to providing our membership with the first benchmarking data exclusively
       collected from electric utilities.  This will help our members better
       understand where they are performing along a common continuum," said
       Jack Flack, IT Committee chairperson from TVA.  Other committee
       presentations included discussing best practices at "help desks" and
       outsourcing strategies and their economic impact.
 
     * Nuclear Committee:  This EUCG committee was attended by more than 85
       percent of North American nuclear operators as well as companies from
       Japan and Romania.  Highlights included presentations on: supply chain
       strategic sourcing, NRC / INPO performance indicator overview,
       interactive panels on work force planning, metrics to identify best
       performers, and breakout sessions to discuss current industry issues /
       topics of interest.  A Savannah-area company, The Georgia Port
       Authority, provided an overview of their operations, including
       benchmarking activity with other ports.  David Ward, EUCG Nuclear
       Committee chair from Duke Power Company (NYSE:   DUK), stated, "This was
       a very interactive and engaging workshop that provided members an
       insight into current business-related items in the nuclear energy
       industry."
 
     * Fossil Committee:  Key issues discussed during the roundtable included
       the management of aging power plant infrastructure, success stories
       around human performance programs, and approaches to ash removal,
       disposal and sale.  Survey results were presented regarding the capital
       costs for scrubbers and operations staffing.  Various safety issues were
       also discussed.  "The Fossil Committee welcomed its largest attendance
       in some time, driven primarily by our robust agenda and focus on the
       common issues fossil power plants face today," said James Patrick,
       Fossil Committee chairperson, from Ameren (NYSE:   AEE).
 
     * Hydroelectric Committee:  Highlights included presentations about the
       cause and management of catastrophic plant failures and results of the
       group's safety survey, which included a discussion on improving safety
       performance.  The Hydro Committee also identified new data requirements
       so that additional information can be generated from its Web-based
       benchmarking database.  "The Hydro Committee represents one of the few
       organized groups of utility hydro professionals that meets regularly to
       vet industry issues and compare performance," said Bruce Fraser, Hydro
       Committee chairperson, of Pacific Gas & Electric Company (NYSE:   PCG).
     EUCG will hold its 2007 fall workshop in Denver, Colo., Sept. 30
 through Oct. 2. 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 34-year-old
 association is organized into five committees that represent specific
 utility functions: Transmission & Distribution (T&D), Fossil Plants, Hydro
 Plants, Nuclear Plants, and Information Technology (IT) departments.
 Members attend semi-annual 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 .
 
 

SOURCE EUCG

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