Ann McCormick is president of the City of Alameda’s Public Utilities Board.
Alameda Prepares for Future Energy Needs
In 1887, a group of Alamedans who viewed electricity as an essential public service came together to create what would become the oldest public electric utility west of the Mississippi. Now, 132 years later, a new generation of Alamedans has come together to ensure that Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) meets the community’s evolving energy needs.
Over the past year, I joined with residents, business leaders, developers, environmental advocates and AMP staff to build a strong framework for how our community-owned utility will serve the Island in the future. This work was summarized in AMP’s long-term strategic plan, which was formally adopted by the Public Utilities Board in January.
Through this collaborative effort, we formed common goals: to help protect our community from the effects of climate change to maintain competitive energy rates and to ensure that AMP continues to attract a talented workforce. The recent news about PG&E’s bankruptcy underscores the importance of a robust strategic plan to keep AMP financially stable in the rapidly changing energy industry.
A critical element of the new strategic plan is maintaining AMP’s long commitment to the environment. For decades, AMP has demonstrated leadership in the fight against climate change. In the 1980s, AMP was one of the first utilities to invest heavily in renewable power through large-scale development of geothermal resources. This was followed by years of early investment in other clean energy sources including wind, landfill gas and hydropower.
I am very proud that our diligent planning over the last few decades will result in a zero-carbon energy supply for Alameda to serve our needs beginning in 2020 and throughout our future. AMP’s commitment to maintaining zero-carbon energy resources is outlined in the strategic plan, and also aligns with the important goals outlined in the city of Alameda’s Climate Action and Resiliency Plan.
In addition to detailing goals related to our clean-energy supply, the strategic plan also emphasizes how the utility’s green programs can protect our environment and provide Alamedans important tools to reduce their carbon footprint. With transportation contributing half of our community’s greenhouse-gas emissions, AMP will continue to offer incentives and create new programs to encourage electric-car adoption. Alameda electric vehicle owners can be especially proud that they are charging their cars with 100 percent, carbon-free power.
AMP also looks forward to efforts to make Alameda’s buildings cleaner and more efficient. We will continue to offer home energy audits and numerous energy efficiency rebate programs, and will further develop incentive programs to encourage the reduction of natural gas use by switching to clean-electric alternatives.
As we map out AMP’s environmental sustainability goals, we also understand that affordability and business sustainability must continue to be a high priority. AMP’s rates currently average 17 percent below those in neighboring communities and our utility remains financially strong. Reflecting the values of our community, one of AMP’s key business goals in the strategic plan is to keep Alameda’s energy rates significantly lower than those in nearby cities. The strategic plan also includes the goal to leverage technology to keep our systems and business processes up to date, ensuring that we can maintain low rates, contribute to the community and remain financially strong in the years ahead.
As we plan AMP’s strategic and business goals, we are mindful that attracting and retaining a highly skilled workforce is key to the utility’s long-term success. Like many other agencies and companies in Alameda, AMP faces challenges with hiring and retaining employees due to the high cost of living in the Bay Area and the unique skillset required to run an electric utility. Addressing this challenge, AMP’s strategic plan includes goals for maintaining a talented workforce in the years to come. As we develop a succession plan to prepare for upcoming retirements, we will also aim to increase the number of qualified applicants for key positions.
I invite Alameda residents to learn more about the goals for AMP’s future that arose from a year’s worth of discussions with residents, local business leaders, community groups and AMP staff. Read the strategic plan at.alamedamp.com. The long tradition of civic engagement that started with AMP’s founding in 1887 continues today, as we all work together to ensure a strong future for our community-owned utility.