Florida Munis Energized About the Future, Says FMPA
Annual address discusses joint action agency’s vision for the future
ORLANDO, Fla., July 23, 2015 – Florida’s municipal electric utilities are uniting their strengths to energize the future, said Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) General Manager and CEO Nicholas P. Guarriello and FMPA Board Vice Chairman Barbara Quiñones in an address at the Florida Municipal Electric Association’s Annual Conference today.
The address discussed FMPA’s plans to enhance its competitiveness in today’s rapidly changing electric industry.
“We have heard from our members that the most important thing we can do for our future is to become the lowest cost, sustainable wholesale power provider in Florida,” said Guarriello. “That is the vision that unites us.”
“Our communities depend on our success,” said Quiñones. “We must deliver today, tomorrow and long into the future. The only way to get there is by leveraging the unique strengths of public power utilities and combine them through joint action.”
The speech’s full text is included below.
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Energizing the Future
by Nicholas Guarriello & Barbara Quiñones
Presentation to FMPA Board of Directors’ Luncheon
July 23, 2015
It is a privilege to once again be here at the FMEA Annual Conference. My favorite part of the conference is spending time with FMEA and FMPA’s members. Our members represent many different types of communities, many different professions, and many different backgrounds and viewpoints. Yet, I’ve noticed one thing is almost universal when I talk to our members. And that is the energy that our members have for public power. When you hear a member talking about the future of their utility, they get fired up and energized. I am here to talk about that energy today: the energy that you bring to your future, FMPA’s future and our future together.
As you have heard in the conference sessions, our industry is changing at a rapid pace. It will take determination and vision to navigate these challenges. But I have no doubt that FMPA’s members have what it takes to be successful in tomorrow’s world. FMPA and its members will be successful in the future because our communities depend on our success.
Today’s electric utilities are likely to experience significant changes in the coming years. Carbon constraints are likely to transform the ways we generate power, while trends in distributed generation will transform the way we deliver power and manage the grid. We are no longer in the business of just selling megawatts, but instead we are in the business of delivering solutions for our customers. These solutions include ways to help our customers learn to control their energy use and bills. That’s why All-Requirements members invested $700,000 in conservation programs this year.
Meanwhile, as all these changes are happening, electricity’s role as the lifeblood of our communities is growing. Technology is now a part of every business, small to large, a part of education and healthcare, and a part of our comfort and safety at home. Our role as electricity providers has never been more essential to the everyday lives of our customers than it is today.
If there is one thing I want you to remember from my comments today it is this: FMPA takes this responsibility as your electricity provider seriously. FMPA and its members put their heart and soul into the success of the communities we serve.
We have heard from our members that the most important thing we can do to for our future is to become the lowest cost, sustainable, wholesale power provider in Florida. That is the vision that unites us.
FMPA recently undertook a competitive analysis of its power supply projects benchmarked against others to learn more about what factors drive cost differences. As a result, FMPA set a goal for fiscal 2018 for FMPA’s wholesale cost of service to be less than the weighted average of our state’s two largest investor-owned utilities.
To achieve this goal, we are using our competitive analysis to identify opportunities to reduce costs, optimize resources and improve competitiveness. We will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of our goal.
This goal is a challenging one, yet I feel very hopeful that it will be a success. One of the things that gives me the most hope for the future of FMPA is the shift I am witnessing back toward the all-for-one, one-for-all values FMPA was founded on.
In the earliest days of the All-Requirements Project, almost three decades ago, members were faced with a decision how to share costs between cities on the west and east sides of the state. It was a decision that could have been divisive, with one winner and one loser, but instead, it was solved by collaboration and compromise. The cities agreed to split the costs evenly: all-for-one and one-for-all.
We had another such decision recently when cities negotiated an end to individual cities’ peak shaving programs. Cities put aside their individual interests to reach a compromise that served the best interest of the group as a whole. I am so tremendously proud of this group and the values that make public power and joint action unique. It is those values that make me feel energized about the future.
There’s no one better than our members themselves to speak about those values and the difference that public power makes in their hometowns. That is why it’s my pleasure today to introduce FMPA’s Vice Chairman and Homestead’s Director of Electric Utilities, Barbara Quiñones, who will talk about how FMPA’s members are energizing the future of their communities.
Thank you, Nick.
Nick has told you about the future of FMPA. I’d like to talk about the future of FMPA’s members and the future of public power in our communities.
Public power gives our member communities the Home Power Advantage. With advantages like reliability, service, community investment, and accountability, we can give our cities the best service and the brightest future.
First, I’d like to talk about reliability. FMPA’s annual Distribution Reliability report found that customers of Florida’s municipal electric utilities enjoy quicker repairs and shorter outages. Public power utilities can deliver this kind of reliability because our employees live and work in the community they serve. Our public power employees take tremendous pride in serving their fellow residents and one of the things we’re really proud of is our quick response time. Whether it’s a request to go out to a citizen’s home to resolve a facility problem for them or a power outage, or a request from a developer to get electricity to new homes, the employees work diligently to make sure we provide as speedy of a response as possible. One of our residents told us about his experience after Hurricane Wilma. He was not a customer of Homestead Energy Services (HES) at the time and he was without power after the hurricane. His neighbors across the street had power long before he did – they WERE HES customers. After seeing that, when he moved to a new home, he made sure it was in the HES area!
I’m honored to say that I work with a very talented and knowledgeable group of people. They care about our community and want their neighbors to have a good experience when dealing with us.
I’d also like to talk about service. In an era when many companies are outsourcing and downsizing customer service functions, municipal electric utilities are still committed to delivering personal service to their local customers.
Investment in the community is another quality that makes public power unique. Florida’s municipal electric utilities return an average of more than 9% of revenues to their communities, as well as contributing many services and other in-kind contributions.
Finally, and most importantly, locally owned electric utilities are fully accountable to the citizens we serve. A simple example of listening to our customers and taking responsible actions to address their concerns has to do with the utilities bill for our city. Our customers told us they were confused by their utilities bills, since they cover charges for multiple city services. A large number of residents even thought their bills were only for electricity, when in fact the bill covered not only electric, but water, sewer and solid waste or garbage, as well, depending on the area of the city. We took that feedback, and using customer input from focus groups, worked with a marketing company and developed a bill that was easy for the customer to understand. Many customers thanked us after the new bill statements came out. They were happy that their concerns had been heard and that we put a plan in place to meet their needs. Feedback from our customers about our utility is what makes me energized to support my local utility and to support FMPA. It reminds me that the work we do truly makes a difference to our neighbors.
As Nick discussed earlier, changes are coming to our industry. Change can be frightening but it can also be exciting, energizing and a source of inspiration. The question we face as FMPA members is: can we leverage this opportunity to make our communities’ futures brighter?
Our communities depend on our success. We must deliver today, tomorrow and long into the future. The only way to get there is by leveraging the unique strengths of public power utilities and combine them through joint action. Together, we can unite our home power advantages to energize our future.
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Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) is a wholesale power company owned by 31 municipal electric utilities. FMPA provides economies of scale in power generation and related services to support community-owned electric utilities. The members of FMPA serve approximately two million Floridians.