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Public Utilities, Second Edition

Old Problems, New Challenges

David E. McNabb

A thoroughly updated introduction to the current issues and challenges facing managers and administrators in the investor and publicly owned utility industry, this engaging volume addresses management concerns in five sectors of the utility industry: electric power, natural gas, water, wastewater systems and public transit.
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Chapter 14: Public utility management

David E. McNabb


Skilled, knowledgeable management may be the most important asset and scarcest resource that any utility has; it must be used wisely and revitalized regularly. Existing management must provide the environment and conditions under which future good management will be available when it is needed. This chapter is a brief introduction to some of the more important principles of management that utility operators, supervisors, and commission members need to understand and apply in public service management. It focuses on the open innovation model as appropriate for the public utility operating environment within which managers guide the utility’s activities. It includes an overview of the key constraints and universal principles that guide managers in carrying out their tasksThere is no single best path to follow and no one best way of recruiting future utility managers. However, two paths to senior management are followed. One is the engineering side of the enterprise; the other is the professional public service management path. Engineers benefit from additional education in management; business management professionals often need additional education in the technical aspects of the utility. Managers benefit from greater knowledge of the technical aspects of the utility. Innovation is critical for success in both sides of the organization. All utilities—large and small, energy, water, or sanitation—have need for both types of managers. Equally, there is no one best way of developing future utility managers. One school of thought suggests that potential future managers should be allowed and encouraged to extend themselves as much as...

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