Curriculum

Each day in the program has approximately seven to eight hours of in-class sessions, break-out group work and team project work. There will be pre-reading assignments provided to participants, in addition to some readings or assignments handed out during the week.  Over the course of the program, there will be a total of three graded assignments that are combined with participation evaluations to make the up the participants’ final grades.

 The Approach

This program utilizes readings, presentations, case studies, and an experiential exercise designed to engage the participants and deepen their learning. A final exercise is a strategic scenario exercise where participants establish a base case scenario for the utility of the future, and using a time horizon of 10 years, develop a long-term strategic plan.  The base case scenarios will focus on elements such as: the regulatory environment; inflation and the price of energy, competitive forces; customer needs; and technological innovation.  The team assignment focuses on the questions:

  1. How should the utility position itself to be successful in this environment and what strategy should it pursue?
  2. What are the financial, organizational and customer implications with the scenario and strategy?

The industry information and competency training provided during the program will help Participants complete the final assignment.   Coaching will be available intermittently during the program to assist with techniques for problem solving and working in teams, and each team will make a presentation on the last day of the program. 

Tuition - $5100 includes:

  • Books and Materials
  • Breakfast and several working lunches
  • Meet and Greet during the first evening of the program

Day 1: Program Overview

Utility Opportunities and Challenges, and Utility Strategy

The morning session will open with an overview of the program: schedule, instructors, curriculum and assignments. Following this, Participants will learn about opportunities and challenges facing utilities and how utility strategy is developed. The afternoon session will introduce participants to writing a strategic plan by exploring internal resources and capabilities against an external backdrop of regulation, economic factors, customer preferences, new technology and competitive forces. This session will provide a foundation for the final assignment that will be due at the end of Week 2.


Day 2 and 3: The Utility by the Numbers

Important Financial Tools for Utility Managers;
Capital Project Analysis & Accessing Capital Markets

The purpose of these two days is for Participants to understand a utility’s financial drivers and how a utility accesses the capital markets. On the first day, Participants will learn how to assess a utility’s financial strength through its financial reports: cash flow statements, balance sheets, and income statements.  On the second day, Participants will learn about break-even analysis and capital investments, as well as how a utility can access capital markets for funding.  Participants will complete this session with a web-based assignment within three weeks of the segment.


Day 4: Becoming a More Effective Leader

Utility leaders need to be prepared to lead their organizations through future change. Therefore the focus on Day 9 is on ethical leadership, understanding your personal style, and leading through change.   This session will also provide recommendations for how to work effectively on teams.


Day 5: Public Policy & Emerging Trends

This first week will close with two segments. In the morning session, Participants will learn about public policy:  What is public policy, how is public policy set, how does it affect utilities, and how can utilities influence public policy?  In the afternoon, Willamette will host a panel of speakers to engage Participants in a discussion of emerging industry trends in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, technology and workforce issues.


Day 6 & 7: Fundamentals of Rate Regulation & Rate Setting Regulation Exercise

Participants begin Week 2 with an introduction to regulation and rate setting. They explore how utilities are regulated, whether by a state commission, a utility district board, or a municipality. They also learn the principles and impact of rate regulation on a utility. Participants learn about the regulatory process, which differs across regulatory bodies but nonetheless pervades decisions about cost recovery, cost allocation and rate design. The two days involve a role-playing exercise. Based on information about a fictitious gas and electric utility, participants representing different stakeholder groups prepare presentations about a rate request before a mock rate-setting body.


Day 8: Executive Presentation Skills

This will be an interactive workshop with inputs on the elements and techniques of presentation - a critical aspect of management.  By the end of the day, the participants will be aware of their strengths as speakers and be more credible and clear. The workshop is designed to support the participants' final assignment on Day 10.  


Day 9: Stakeholder Relationships & the Customer Experience

In the morning, expanding on the stakeholder model of management introduced in the mock rate regulation exercise, Participants will be guided in exploring how a utility manages its relationships with its internal and external stakeholders. The instructor will provide a case study and then help participants consider how stakeholder relationships are critical to successful implementation of utility strategy. 

In the afternoon, Participants will explore the “Customer Experience” by reviewing the relationship between a utility and its customers.  This segment will focus on customer contact points and changing customer needs, to explore what the utility of the future should be considering with respect to enhancing the customer experience.


Day 10: Capstone Day

Strategic Plan Presentations

The program closes with teams presenting their analyses of the impact of different scenarios depicting the world in ten years on the management of a utility. They will present as if they were presenting to an internal executive team. . The team presentations will conclude with input regarding the content and ideas presented, their effectiveness presenting as a team, and the quality of the presentation.