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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 15: Public utility operations, maintenance and planning

David E. McNabb


The obstacles confronting effective public utilities operations and planning are similar to what managers of other public services organizations face every day. Operations management (OM) is essential for the smooth and efficient running of all types of organizations. As a fundamental function of management, OM controls the processes and procedures needed for producing all the products and services provided by public utilities. Utility products differ from other goods and services purchased by consumers and industrial users in that they tend to be highly homogeneous in quality, consumed at generally predictable quantities and little affected by readily attainable substitutes, whereas products manufactured are typically differentiated by brand, quality level, and price.Operation and maintenance management (OMM) in utilities consists of a number of asset management activities related to the collection, processing, transmission and distribution of the organization’s resources, products and services and residual product processing and disposal. These activities are generally grouped into three broad systems: operations, maintenance, and planning. The application of the operation function is facilitated through such subsystems as:Operations management is the design, implementation and administration of the actions by which managers guide the development, production or acquisition of goods and services provided the public by all public utilities. The function’s core activities are planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling of all the resources involved in making utility products available to consumers and industrial users. The skills needed in operations management include people management; knowledge of the function and purpose of the equipment and technology necessary for acquiring and/or...

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