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January 2021 Newsletter: TPPA Board President’s Message

January 2021 Newsletter: TPPA Board President’s Message

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By Jeff Janke, TPPA 2020-21 President, General Manager & CEO, Garland Power & Light

Happy New Year!

Public Power Responds During Pandemic
As we exit 2020 and enter 2021, public power utilities have exhibited resilience and operational excellence in the face of the hereto-unknown pandemic resulting from COVID-19.  I congratulate everyone for responding to the monumental operational challenges.  Our utilities have also exhibited grace and compassion working with our customers, which are, of course, part of our legacy of being community owned and customer service oriented.

Recognition of electricity’s vital role in our economy, especially in health care facilities, industries, educational facilities, and family homes for both “virtual school classes” and “work from home” has increased during the pandemic.  I join all of you in being proud of our utilities in ensuring full reliability and safe delivery as we support our customers and communities, while maintaining a healthy workforce of mission-critical employees.

We’re certainly proud of the work of the electric workforce, and I offer a bigger hat tip to the critical health care professionals and first responders who are on the frontline of the pandemic across Texas and the Nation. We salute these health care heroes and brave first responders!

Engaging with the Texas Legislature, January – May 2021
COVID-19 recovery will be front and center during the 87th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, which begins next week. TPPA’s Government Relations Committee, Board of Directors, and staff have been engaged preparing to work with policymakers on prospective new energy policies.  Public power ably serves more than 5 million Texans, and we contribute mightily to the Texas electric grid.  TPPA will advocate strongly for our members so that we may continue to serve our communities.  When asked, I hope you will help us tell the story – your story – of the benefits and contributions of public power utilities, to our elected officials in the Texas Legislature.

TPPA Association on Task for 2021, Produced for our Membership in 2020
While much of the world was put on pause, events cancelled and projects stalled in 2020, TPPA pivoted, and continued to execute its important membership mission, accomplishing much in 2020.  In 2020 we were fortunate to meet and hear from policymakers and influencers like Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, who chairs the Senate Business and Commerce Committee; Public Utility Commission Chairman DeAnn Walker and Commissioner Arthur D’Andrea; our East Texas members met telephonically with Congressman Brian Babin, R- Woodville and Senator Robert Nichols, R- Jacksonville; and our Hill Country Members met telephonically with Senator Dawn Buckingham, R-Lake Travis and Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels.  Our virtual Annual Membership Meeting featured Texas A&M’s School of Public Health’s Dr. Rebecca Fischer, an infectious disease expert; and APPA’s President and CEO Joy Ditto. And our committees have remained active throughout the pandemic.

We are proud to have completed a new Three-Year Strategic Plan for the Association, which received input from across our membership.  TPPA’s Cybersecurity Subcommittee, now a year old, is continuing its important technical information-sharing and educational initiatives. Our Association members stepped up to provide important Mutual Aid assistance to our East Texas member systems during a busy hurricane season as well as earlier 2020 natural disasters.  Our staff has continued its important legislative relationship-building activities, represented our industry position with regulators on important policy developments, and launched new communication tools to better tell the rich history and many contributions of public power in Texas.

Looking Ahead with Optimism in 2021
While the pandemic circumstances are demanding, public power is up to the challenge. With the help of policy makers, scientists, drug makers, health care professionals, and a thoughtful  public, our collective 2021 New Year’s resolution of “return to normal” should be able to occur!  Most certainly, better days are ahead for our communities – thank you for your ongoing efforts to keep our commitment of powering strong Texas communities.  It’s a pleasure serving as your president – as always, please call upon TPPA for any assistance.