The strategic plan recently approved by Paducah Power System includes its vision, mission and values, as well as five areas it intends to focus on in the years ahead.

The planning process began in November and involved senior management and the board as well as an implementation team, which includes a number of employees. It was facilitated by Steve VanderMeer, senior vice president with Hometown Connections, the utility services subsidiary of the American Public Power Association.

Addressing the board in February, VanderMeer said: "Strategic planning is a really different animal in the electric industry from the first 100 years because (then) it was such a simple industry. You kept the lights on and you sent a bill out, and we weren't really asking board members to do a whole lot more than approve large purchases, approve a budget and salary plan.

"There was very little strategic work on the board's plate for a very long time. Governing boards of today have to recognize that we're in a rapidly changing industry, and the general manager and his staff can't effect those changes without some direction from the board," he said.

The vision put forth in the PPS plan is: "Paducah Power System will be a trusted partner in the vitality of our community and a leader in our industry."

It's stated mission "is to provide our customers with reliable and economical service of the highest quality and be a valued partner in the community and its development."

In all operations, the following values are to be reflected, according to the plan: safety, respect, fiscal responsibility, transparency, innovation, integrity, professionalism and consistency.

The five areas of focus are:

• Reliability. PPS will set the bar as the regional standard for reliable service. Goals include maintaining a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, maintaining its 99.99 percent reliability in key areas, ensuring accuracy of posting correct payments and securing customer records.

• Financial strength. PPS will balance long-term financial stability with fair rates. Some of the identified goals include achieving a bond rating in the A category for all three rating agencies, staying at or below the regional average retail rate, maintaining a strong cash reserve and ensuring all wholesale power costs are recovered through the power cost adjustment.

• Community development. PPS will invest in the success and quality of life in the Paducah community. Goals include seeking enhanced community partnerships, exploring opportunities to provide added value to the community, build awareness of public power's value, and stronger visibility of the utility and its staff.

• Customer service. PPS will set the bar for exceptional service. Goals include developing a baseline assessment of customer service, establishing a customer satisfaction standard, responding to changing customer service needs programs and options, and building a customer service culture.

• Workforce development. PPS will develop and sustain a highly skilled workforce focused on Paducah Power's strategic priorities. Goals include having safety be a driving force in all activities, maintain an employee turnover rate of less than 5 percent (excluding retirements), build and maintain morale, commit to ongoing training, and compensating employees fairly and competitively, based on market conditions.

"We envision this plan staying in place for a number of years," said Dave Carroll, general manager. "It's a long-term document. The actual plan will change throughout the year ... as we accomplish tasks, we'll add new tasks."

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