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January 23, 2012

The Path to a Bright Future

by Girish Balachandran Alameda Municipal Power General Manager

Alameda Municipal Power’s Annual Strategic Planning Workshop is a time when the Public Utilities Board and staff discuss critical issues and opportunities that face the electric industry and the utility.  The 2012 workshop will build on the work accomplished during previous workshops conducted each year since 2007.  

The electric utility industry is undergoing fundamental changes.  The Board has concluded that the following trends will reshape and transform the utility industry and therefore AMP.  These trends are Technology, Workforce, Regulation and Customer Experience.

Over the coming years the installation and integration of new technology at all levels of the system will be a significant expense and effort for AMP.  We have taken a second-mover position with regard to cutting edge technology. However, AMP must accelerate its implementation of proven technologies and at the same time get prepared for the additional technology changes that are maturing quickly.  Care must be taken to develop a sound business case and successful customer outreach that is reflective of Alameda’s unique characteristics.

Issues related to AMP’s workforce need to be addressed.  AMP will need to make changes in job descriptions, titles, and compensation. Advanced technology, increased regulatory compliance needs, and an aging workforce require us to deal with this issue in a proactive manner and not wait until a negative triggering event causes us to react.  Communication with the City Council on this sensitive issue will be required over the coming year(s).

The Board updated its renewable electricity policy last year.  The opportunity to monetize renewables through selling renewable power over the approved policy for a short period of time has also been discussed.  The current guidance from the Board is oriented toward leveraging these potential revenues for additional green-house gas reducing initiatives.

In the long-run, all customers will have advanced metering.  Customers will be offered new rate and service options from the utility and third-parties.  New technology has the potential to provide better service at lower cost in the long run, but installation may put short run pressure on rates. Compliance with new environmental and security regulations will similarly put pressure on rates. Funding for long-term infrastructure, advanced technology and additional renewables will need to be addressed in the coming year(s).  A cost-of-service study is also to be worked on over the next year in order to properly allocate costs for rates.  

On behalf of all AMP employees, I look forward to serving your home, business, and the community and thank you for your continued support.  For more information please visit our website at