FMPA Leaders Praise the Power of People at Annual Meeting
Annual address highlights people, calling them FMPA’s most valuable power resource
ORLANDO, Fla., July 22, 2010 – Florida Municipal Power Agency’s (FMPA) greatest achievements in 2010 were made possible when the Agency’s member cities and their local elected officials worked together to leverage the power of joint action, said FMPA General Manager and CEO Nicholas P. Guarriello and FMPA Board Chairman Vince R. Ruano in an address to FMPA’s members at the Agency’s annual meeting held today in Naples, Fla.
“The efforts of our people have resulted in shared knowledge and joint recommendations. Just as important, this collaboration built a bond among the participants and a shared vision of the future. The process of working side-by-side as partners is clearly one of the highlights of the year,” said Guarriello.
“Local elected and appointed officials put the ‘public’ in public power. They’re accountable to their citizens, and they ensure the same for our utilities. Our local policy makers guide our utilities and serve as the first and best advocate for public power in our communities. That’s not new, but what’s notable this year is how our policy makers are working with other leaders around the state to become powerful advocates for our citizens and our communities,” said Ruano.
The speech’s full text is included below.
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“The Power of People”
remarks as prepared
Nicholas P. Guarriello, FMPA General Manager and CEO, and Vince Ruano, FMPA Board of Directors Chairman
FMEA-FMPA Annual Conference – Naples, Fla. – July 22, 2010
If you watch TV or read a newspaper around December 31st each year, you’ll be treated to an annual phenomenon, customarily called “the year in review.” Every station or publication features its own compilation of the biggest, most memorable news of the year.
If the first seven months of this year are any indication, the media will have no trouble filling their lists this December. We’ve already witnessed international financial turmoil, momentous public policy debates, natural disasters ranging from the devastating earthquake in Haiti to the volcano in Iceland, and of course, the greatest environmental disaster of our time, the oil spill in the Gulf.
Although we’re in the middle of the year, this Annual Conference is a similar reminder to reflect. It’s our time to review the year past and to get ready for what’s ahead. I think you’ll find our “year in review” looks a little different from what you’ll see on the TV in December. It’s different because FMPA’s story this year is about so much more than what happened to us. It’s about what we did about it. Our story this year isn’t a story about the impact of events. It’s a story about the power of people.
In the past year, our communities were faced with the most challenging economy most of us have seen in our lifetimes. In response, our citizens asked tough questions about the competitiveness of our rates and the viability of our business model. On top of all this, we were faced with the threat of legislative action that would take away the local control that public power was founded upon.
How did the people of FMPA respond? They did NOT put their head down and hope it blows over. They did NOT wring their hands as things happened around them. Instead, they rolled up their sleeves and pulled together. The people of FMPA faced the challenges head on, and their actions strengthened public power in their hometowns and across the state.
I think a great example of the power of our people is the work of our All-Requirements Project’s Business Model Working Group or BMWG. The BMWG is an advisory group our members established in May 2009. The Group is charged with learning and fully understanding the current All-Requirements Project business model and how the project conducts its business. Then, if they believe there are opportunities for achieving greater efficiency, the BMWG is tasked to make suggestions and recommendations for improvement to the Executive Committee. Analyzing all components of our business model is a bold goal. But the BMWG’s members have embraced the power of knowledge and tackled this challenge with vigor.
The BMWG’s members have met 15 times since the group’s formation last year. They have dedicated countless hours to this vital project. And they haven’t shied away from the tough topics. One of the Group’s first actions was to review the Agency’s fuel hedging policy. They dedicated three meetings to this topic and came up with a recommended alternative for the Executive Committee to consider. To date, the Group has addressed nine business model elements. More topics are scheduled in the future.
The efforts of our people have resulted in shared knowledge and joint recommendations. Just as important, this collaboration built a bond among the participants and a shared vision of the future. The process of working side-by-side as partners is clearly one of the highlights of the year.
To share some other examples of what our people have accomplished this year, it’s now my pleasure to introduce FMPA’s Board Chairman and the City Manager of Bushnell, Vince Ruano.
Thank you, Nick.
I, too, am proud of what FMPA’s members have done this year to strengthen the Agency. And we’re made even stronger by the leadership of our local policy makers, whose contributions I’d like to highlight.
Local elected and appointed officials put the “public” in public power. They’re accountable to their citizens, and they ensure the same for our utilities. Our local policymakers guide our utilities and serve as the first and best advocate for public power in our communities. That’s not new, but what’s notable this year is how our policy makers are working with other leaders around the state to become powerful advocates for our citizens and our communities.
This trend actually began two years ago with the formation of FMPA’s Policy Makers Liaisons Committee. The creation of this Committee was championed by Kissimmee Utility Authority Board member Nancy Gemskie. The Committee was formed to foster opportunities for greater communication and knowledge regarding the business and projects of FMPA. I would like to publicly thank Nancy for her leadership in forming this Committee. The benefit of having an engaged group of policy makers was never more obvious than it was this year.
When a bill was introduced in the Florida Legislature that would have robbed our utilities of local control, policy makers throughout the state sprang into action. Green Cove Springs Councilmember Mike Kelter spoke to state representatives about the issue. He asked the sponsor of the bill some probing questions that exposed the bill’s weaknesses. Several policy makers traveled to Tallahassee to meet with representatives during the FMEA Legislative Rally, including Starke’s Scott Roberts, who is an active participant with the Agency in addition to his voluntary duties as a member of his city’s blue-ribbon panel on utilities. Ocala City Council President Kent Guinn went to Tallahassee and testified convincingly before a House Committee against the bill. And both Councilman Guinn and Newberry City Commissioner Bill Conrad reached out to the bill’s supporters to discuss their views and seek a common ground. Most impressively, when there was a question about where our members stood on this bill, in a matter of days, officials from 13 out of 14 cities served by FMPA’s All-Requirements Project wrote letters opposing the bill. The united front and reasoned advocacy of our community leaders was essential to defeating this legislation. When faced with a problem posed by a powerful legislator, it was the power of our people that carried the day. Many of you in this room were involved in this effort. Too many to name, but you know who you are. And to you, I say, “Thank you.”
I am also proud of the way our policy makers are rising to leadership roles at the national level. Florida is now represented by three members on the American Public Power Association’s Policy Makers Council. Serving on the Council are Kissimmee’s Nancy Gemskie, Key West’s Lou Hernandez and, newly appointed this year, Fort Pierce’s Pam Cully. Additionally, 16 Florida policy makers traveled with FMPA and FMEA to visit members of Congress this year during the APPA Legislative Rally.
As individual communities, we may sometimes feel like the folks in Washington or Tallahassee don’t hear us or understand our needs. But history has proven time and time again that when Florida’s public power communities work together, we have a very powerful voice. How about a round of applause for all our local elected and appointed officials here and back home?
FMPA’s year in review is a testament to the power of people. Throughout our 32-year history, we have triumphed when our communities came together for the common good. Economies of scale, access to resources and strength in numbers are achieved when we work together on a shared vision. No matter what happens in the news, no matter what happens in our industry, no matter what each year brings, FMPA’s most valuable power resource will always be the power of people.
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Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) is a wholesale power company owned by 30 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 2 million Floridians. FMPA’s members include Alachua, Bartow, Blountstown, Bushnell, Chattahoochee, Clewiston, Fort Meade, Fort Pierce, Gainesville, Green Cove Springs, Havana, Homestead, Jacksonville Beach, Key West, Kissimmee, Lake Worth, Lakeland, Leesburg, Moore Haven, MountDora, New Smyrna Beach, Newberry, Ocala, Orlando, Quincy, St. Cloud, Starke, Vero Beach, Wauchula and Williston.