BOSTON, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- A gathering of 130 utility professionals representing 75 separate companies concluded with participants agreeing that utilities should improve upon their existing benchmarking and best practice systems to drive business growth as well as cost reduction. EUCG, a global association of energy professionals that performs benchmarking surveys and seeks to identify best practices in the electric utility industry, held its annual fall conference at Boston's Hilton Back Bay Hotel on Sept. 25-28. The theme of the conference, according to EUCG President Steve Saunders, was "Energy Information ... for Best Practices." Saunders, who is employed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, the largest public power generator, and has served as EUCG's president since 2000, said, "EUCG member utilities' use of benchmarking and best practices is becoming more and more an important strategic resource within their individual companies." Saunders added: "Our members are quite good at using EUCG data to drive improved organizational performance that, in turn, benefits their member companies, the electric utility industry in general, and all electric power consumers." Mark Derry, EUCG Vice President from Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), attended many of these presentations and concluded that "benchmarking and the best practices are increasingly being used by utilities to accelerate learning and improvement. It complements other productivity tools -- and is helping our membership to enhance competitiveness." Dozens of benchmarking and best practices topics were presented during the conference's three-day run, said George W. Sharp, EUCG National Marketing Director from American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP). According to Sharp, highlights of the conference included: - A discussion of plant safety performance including the results of benchmarking data gathered around member utilities' safety programs, policies and procedures. This discussion was facilitated by individuals from Ameren (NYSE: AEE), Detroit Edison (NYSE: DTE) and Texas Utilities (NYSE: TXU). - A working session for members regarding how to maximize their use of EUCG's capital database, including how to conduct effective cost comparisons with EUCG data while driving improvements to related business processes. This session was facilitated by individuals from Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), The Southern Company (NYSE: SO) and FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE). - A roundtable discussion of organizational best practices "success stories," including a special session on how to build a winning culture between and among company employees, unions, and management. Success story discussions were facilitated by individuals from Kansas City Power & Light (NYSE: GXP), Conectiv Energy (NYSE: POM), Alliant Energy (NYSE: LNT) and the Omaha Public Power District. The conference's keynote address was given by Chris Bogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Best Practices, LLC and co-author of Benchmarking for Best Practices: Winning Through Innovative Adaptation. Bogan, a leading authority on best practice improvement strategies, told the audience that "in life and business, small variations create enormous performance and outcome differences." He added: "It's the small things you do when structuring and conducting your benchmarking activities that lead to success that others never achieve. EUCG provides one such platform in which to cultivate these 'small differences' that lead to success." EUCG will hold its 2006 spring conference in Anaheim, California. 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 association is organized into five (5) separate 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 conferences 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://www.eucg.org .