Utility Management Certificate - Curriculum
Each day in the program has approximately seven hours of contact time. Reading assignments may be distributed in advance. Instructors may ask participants to complete readings or assignments during the evenings.
This program utilizes readings, presentations, case studies, and an experiential exercise designed to engage the participants and deepen their learning. A thematic exercise used is the "business line integration project (BLIP)." Participants receive different views of the future of the energy industry. Using a time horizon of 15 years, the views will differ on elements such as: the regulatory environment; inflation and the price of energy, especially competing products; demographic changes in the customer base; and technological innovation. Placed in groups that cross their functional and business lines, participants receive a scenario to analyze. The assignment for each group is to answer two questions:
- How should a utility be organized to be successful in this environment?
- What do I need to know to answer the first question?
These inquiries guide the design and content of the Certificate program. Day 1 sets up Day 2; Days 1 and 2 set up Day 3; and so on. Each team will make a presentation on the last day of the program and submit a supporting memorandum two weeks later. Coaches will be available intermittently during the program to assist with techniques for problem solving and working in teams. The presentation and memorandum, classroom participation during each segment, an individual memorandum, and a test about the financial material, become the basis for assessing successful completion.
Tuition - $4850 includes:
- Books and Materials
- Breakfast and some lunches
- Evening Orientation, Meet and Greet on September 23
Day 1: Industry Environment-Technological and Strategic Implications
The purpose of this day is to establish the industry context for the program, to learn necessary background, and to create context for subsequent days:
- An overview of the service/product, the delivery system, and the institutions governing it,
- The history of the industry with special attention to the economic, legal, and technological changes it has experienced,
- A review of the technology on which the energy system is built,
- Customer Service.
At the conclusion of this segment, participants will have learned terminology, the basic operating features of a utility, the impact of changes in the environment on utility operations, and the competitive structure of the industry
Day 2 & 3: Firms Inside the Industrial System-Decision-making Drivers and Finance
Once participants have a feel for the competitive forces in the industry, they will learn to understand the financial numbers that explain a utility's operations: cash flow statements, balance sheets, annual reports. They will also learn about the process and reasons for making capital budget requests. The purpose of these days is for participants to understand how a utility earns money and how to interpret typical financial reports. Participants then complete a web-based assessment of their learning within one week.
Days 4 & 5: Managing Rate Regulation
Once participants have a better understanding of the financial side of a utility, they explore a fact of life in the utility industry: rates are regulated, whether by a state commission, a utility district board, or a municipality. The purpose of this segment is to learn the principles and impacts of rate regulation on a utility. Participants cannot easily predict the impact of environmental forces on the company without taking into account the regulatory process, which differs across regulatory bodies but nonetheless pervades decisions about capital investments, services, operations, company infrastructure, and more.
The days involve a role-playing exercise. Based on information about a fictitious gas and electric utility, participants representing different groups will prepare presentations about a rate request before a mock rate-setting body. As this first week of the program concludes, participants will be asked to research risks faced by their utilities and the ways they manage them, reporting back at the beginning of the second week of the program.
Day 6: Managing Risk and Strategy
With insights into the environment of their industry, financial management, and the impact of rate regulation, participants then learn about risk management-operational, regulatory, financial, reputational, etc. The purpose of this day is to learn about business risks and risk mitigation in a changing environment. Participants learn to integrate this with organizational strategy, and to add value by linking their areas of operation to it.
Day 7: Internal Operations
Participants are now ready to study operational management, human resource management, the ability to communicate effectively, to manage change, and to manage conflict. Topics might include human resource management as a business partner; labor relations (labor-management partnerships vs. traditional collective bargaining); and labor resource planning (succession, multiple generations in the workplace; training for new technologies).
Day 8: The Strategic Role of Information Technology
With background on the environment, finances, regulation, risk, and, internal operations, the course moves to different approaches across companies in centralized versus decentralized information processing; the role of IT in creating competitive advantages; and allocating IT resources.
Day 9: Stakeholder Interests and Relationships
Expanding on the stakeholder model of management introduced in the mock rate regulation exercise and the strategic risk analysis, investors, vendors and the community at large are brought into the picture. How does a utility organize itself to satisfy the demands of its various stakeholders? How does a utility manage its relationships with its community? We give special attention to the impact of Sarbanes-Oxley on middle managers and the general issues associated with ethical decision-making.
Day 10: Exploiting Opportunities and Responding to Threats
The program closes with teams presenting their analyses of the impact of different scenarios depicting the world in fifteen years on the management of a utility. They will receive constructive criticisms. The team presentations will conclude by their reviewing their effectiveness as teams and receiving valuable team process feedback.