RP3 Program Criteria
The RP3 program recognizes utilities that demonstrate high proficiency in four areas: reliability, safety, work force development and system improvement. An overview of each section is provided below.
Becoming a Reliable Public Power Provider
Each year the RP3 application open period is May 1 – September 30.
Applications received are reviewed by the 18-member RP3 Review Panel, which is comprised of public power employees from across the country. Based on the information provided in a utility’s completed application, utilities may be recognized as a Gold, Platinum or Diamond Reliable Public Power Provider.
RP3 Utility Size Categories:
- Small Utility: Under 5,000 Customers
- Medium Utility: 5,000 – 30,000 Customers
- Large Utility: Over 30,000 Customers
- Non-APPA Member
Several significant changes to the program were introduced in the Year 9 (2013) application that applies to utilities designated beginning in 2014 (year 10); these enhancements are the result of feedback received from member utilities over the past nine years. Starting in the Year 9 (2013) application (used by utilities that applied in 2013, and were designated in 2014) the designation levels are:
- Gold: 80% - <90% of the possible points
- Platinum: 90 - <98% of the possible points
- Diamond: 98 - 100% of the possible points
For utilities that applied before 2013, the Diamond designation was awarded to the utility if it successfully met 100% of the defined criteria. The Platinum designation was awarded if the utility met 90-99% of the criteria. The Gold designation was awarded if the utility met 80-89% of the RP3 Program criteria.
Beginning with the 2014 designees, RP3 designations last for three years, starting on May 1st of their designation year to April 30th three years later.*
Utilities that wish to maintain their RP3 status must re-apply the year prior to the expiration of their designation (in other words, they should re-apply in the second year of the three year designation period). For example, a utility that applies in 2016 will receive their designation starting May 1, 2017, which will remain valid until April 30th, 2020. In order to maintain their status after that period, the utility must re-apply in 2019. The intent of the re-application process is to ensure RP3 utilities are consistently striving to maintain and improve the quality of their system.
*Prior to the 2014 designation (2013 Application), RP3 designations were valid for a two year period (e.g., utilities that were designated in 2013, will need to reapply by September 30, 2014 in order to maintain their RP3 status).
Criteria within each of the four RP3 disciplines are based upon sound business practices and recognized industry leading practices. The RP3 Application Guide provides in-depth explanations of the requirements for each area, including a question-by-question guide for filling out the application, as well as the associated scoring guidelines.
The term “reliable” is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as an adjective that means: can be relied on; dependable; trustworthy; and worthy of confidence. Although these are all true in context, reliability of an electric system goes deeper than just defining the results that are evident through reliable day-to-day service. Key elements of the Reliability section include collecting and analyzing reliability data, having a mutual aid agreement, devising and using a system-wide disaster management plan (emergency response plan), and implementing any needed cyber and physical security.
Utilities must create a culture of safety. This commitment to safety must begin with top management and include safety in all aspects of operations from generation to line work, and all utility services in between. Benchmarking safety metrics, focusing on frontline workers, and implementing rigorous safety training is crucial to the delivery of safe and reliable electricity. In the RP3 program, each utility must prove that it uses an accepted safety manual and follows safe work practices across the utility.
Training employees, whether through traditional avenues such as workshops and college courses or through in-house programs, demonstrates that a utility values its work force. Utilities benefit from providing opportunities for staff to network with other utility representatives throughout the nation and encourage them to get involved in the national perspective of utility relations. Utility staff knowledge increases through membership in state, regional, and nationally focused committees, and through attendance in conferences and training.
Stewardship of utility assets is essential to ensuring long term system reliability and performance. Utilities maintain the integrity of their system and promote long term planning by embarking on improvement programs that include both an eye on the future through research and development (R&D) and a commitment to system betterment programs can help utilities provide reliable services in the future. Important items in this section include participation in R&D programs, procedures to maintain distribution system and financial health with the emergence of customer-owned distributed energy resources, and implementation of system planning and betterment projects.