PUD Commissioner and City Council Leadership Certificate Program

Leadership Development for PUD Commissioners and City Council Members

This Leadership Development curriculum consists of twelve modules designed to provide PUD Commissioners and City Council member’s exposure to key issues facing their utility. Board/Policy Leaders will have several opportunities to attend these courses, at pre-annual and quarterly meetings, and at regularly scheduled regional training workshops.

A certificate of completion will be given when a board or policy leaders have completed all twelve modules. The twelve modules are:

Ethics and Accountability

Faculty:  To Be Determined (TBD)
Length:  3 hours to 6 hours

“The greatest threat to the not-for-profit sector is the betrayal of public trust, the disappointment of public confidence. Virtually all knowledgeable observers of the not-for-profit scene believe that an overwhelming proportion of not-for-profits are honorably run...that admirable context, however, does not provide much protection to the sector when a sequence of highly publicized disgraceful not-for-profit misdeeds occurs.”  Joel Fleishman, Scholar, Author, Professor of Law and Public Policy, and Director of the Heyman Center on Ethics, Public Policy and the Professions, Duke University

There is a new era and there are expectation of accountability for boards, and leaders.  In some cases new standards, programs and policies involving issues of codes of conduct, document retention, fraud risk assessment and financial reporting are expected.

            Key Topics will include:

  • Reviewing and updating your organization’s code of conduct;
  • Developing and communicating expectations;
  • Closed and open meeting requirements;
  • Documents the IRS requires a nonprofit to make available to the public
    State laws may independently require you to disclose various documents to the public or provide searchable databases where the public can find documents filed
  • Cultivating a culture of accountability and transparency

Understanding your Roles and Responsibilities

Faculty:  TBD
Length:  3 hours to 6 hours

This module is designed to help board commissioners and city council members understand their role and responsibilities in directing the affairs of their utility. 

          Key Topics will include:

  • Articulate the values of public power;
  • Participate, identify and help define the strategic direction of the utility;
  • Approve of the utility’s strategic direction, by helping establish results that are expected;
  • Establish policy, and review existing policy;
  • Review and change By-Laws
  • Understanding the difference in the role of policy makers and managers

Effective Board/CEO Relationships

Faculty:  TBD
Length:  3 hours to 6 hours

This module is designed to provide board commissioners and city council members to understand the importance of establishing and maintaining an effective relationship with its members and the CEO/General Manager

            Key Topics will include:

  • Creating performance standards;
  • Conducting performance reviews;
  • Building a strong and effective board; and
  • Assessing board effectiveness
  • Board Attorney/Board Relationships

Preparing for the Future:  Developing “bench-strength”

Faculty:  TBD
Length:  3 hours to 6 hours

This module is designed to provide board commissioners and city council member an understanding and the importance of being prepared when replacing key position within the organization.

            Key Topics will include:

  • Assessing talent in your organization;
  • Identifying key position, such as: CEO, Director of Finance, Director of Customer -Service, Director of Operations, etc; and
  • Developing a talent plan, what is the role of Policy Makers, why is it important
  • What are the budget implications

Electric Utility Systems Operations

Faculty:  Skip Collier
Length:  6 hours

This one-day course presents a clear understanding of the technical heartbeat of the utility by providing employees with a comprehensive understanding of electric utility system operations, including generation (fossil fuel, hydro, and nuclear generation), transmission, and distribution (down to 120v/240v residential connections). You will learn how all key pieces of equipment in the system are built, how the equipment operates, and how the equipment functions in the overall operations of a utility system. The course assumes no electrical background and builds on the basics to provide a comprehensive understanding of the equipment and operation of the electric utility system.
In addition to the above, the course will also cover:

  • Demand and load curves
  • System frequency
  • Wheeling
  • Load shedding and outages
  • Power and demand factors
  • System and equipment protection
  • Safety, including step and touch potential

Understanding the Rate Making Process

Faculty:  EES Consulting
Length:  3 hours to 6 hours

This module is designed to give decision and policy makers a better understanding of the financial environment their utility functions in, how revenue needs are determined and the tools available to manage income sources.

            Key Topics will include:

  • Methods of designing and utilizing your utility’s system of retail rates;
  • We will discuss revenue stream and how it meets identified goals; and
  • How revenue needs are determined

Overview of Power Supply and Risk Management

Faculty:  TBD
Length:  3 hours to 6 hours

This module is designed to help board commissioners and city council members understand this key issue for their utilities.

            Key Topics will include:

  • Understanding the new wholesale energy environment;
  • Identifying risks related to power supply;
  • Developing your own risk profile; and
  • Understanding the need for risk management.
  • Understanding Generation Alternatives

Utility Finance

Faculty:  TBD
Length:  6 hours

This module is designed to help board commissioners and city council members understand the role the play in their utilities financial planning, reporting and financial decision making.

            Key Topics will include:

  • Establishing sound financial policies;
  • Limiting potential risks;
  • Providing consistent and standard monitoring of key business operations; and
  • How to establish mid and long term financial strategies.
  • Approve utility’s operating budget

History of Public Power

Faculty:  Liz Loomis
Length:  6 hours

The History of Public Power provides a core foundation for non-profit utility employees about the history of electricity and the rise of public power to our industry as it stands today. You'll learn why public power continues to be critical to the success of our communities in the Western U.S. and Canada.
“The greatest thing on earth is to have the love of God in your heart, and the next greatest thing is to have electricity in your house”. - A Tennessee farmer promoting rural electrification, c. 1940
There was a time when electricity was only second in popularity to religion. Those who controlled and had access to it were the wealthy while most Americans lived in the dark. Through a strong grassroots effort, communities across the country fought to make sure electricity would be affordable and available to everyone through non-profit public power and cooperative utilities.

            Learning Objectives:

By actively participating in this class, you will gain an understanding of:


  • The history of electricity and the rise of public power in America
  • The importance of preference to affordable power rates
  • The different types of public and private utilities
  • Current trends in the electric utility industry to reduce consumption

Regulatory & Legislative Environment “Advocacy & Influence”

Faculty:  Scott Lindsay
Length:  3 hours to 6 hours

This module is designed to help board commissioners and city council members become more educated and effective utility advocates.  The training will provide tools to influence the political process, at all levels of government, and shape the debate of policies that impact your utility.

            Key Topics will include:

  • Understanding the legislative and regulatory process;
  • Building political alliances and relationships;
  • Learning how to communicate with Congress and regulatory agencies with effective messaging;
  • Writing, calling and meeting with Members of Congress and agencies;
  • Strategies for success in message delivery and reinforcement; and
  • Opportunities to cultivate stronger relationships.

Leadership Skills for Board Chairs

Faculty:  Greg Boudreaux or other
Length:  6 hours

The Board Chair has unique responsibilities that cannot be assigned to any other individual.  Only the Chair can lead the board to ensure that directors and managers understand their respective roles, only the Chair can work with the CEO to structure meetings to enable directors to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities, and only the Chair can guide the board to address potential threats to the board’s reputation or credibility.

In fulfilling these responsibilities, the Chair typically uses board policies, meeting agendas, performance appraisal forms and similar documents to help focus the board’s attention.  This seminar is designed to enable Chairs to work in a small-group setting where they will demonstrate board leadership skills and receive feedback and suggestions from peers.  Each Chair will present a current or proposed agenda, policy or CEO appraisal form to be analyzed and discussed by a small working group. 

Objectives include:

  • To help Chairs make best use of key documents that impact board effectiveness, including the meeting agenda, the CEO performance appraisal form, or policies that address board function..
  • To provide an opportunity for Chairs to practice skills used in situations where board members may not agree to or understand how the board should best address issues such as CEO performance appraisal or conflict between directors.
  • To give Chairs feedback and guidance about how to best lead the board to perform effectively.

All attendees are asked to bring five copies of at least one of the following:

  • An actual or proposed board meeting agenda that includes some important or controversial issue that the board must address.
  • A sample or proposed new board policy such as on director duties and standards of conduct.
  • The CEO performance appraisal form that the board wants to use in an upcoming appraisal process

All attendees will receive a copy of Greg Boudreaux’s The Effective Board Chair prior to the seminar.  Greg will conduct the workshop, including presenting an introduction about the need for Chairs to develop and use facilitative skills.

Effective Board/Legislative & Regulatory Relationships

Faculty:  Scott Lindsay
Length:  2 hours to 3 hours

This module is designed to provide board commissioners and city council members an understanding the importance of consistent, unified messaging to maintain effective relationships with elected and regulatory officials.

            Key Topics will include:

  • The power of good messaging;
  • The divisiveness of mixed messages;
  • Protecting your organization through a strong and effective board;
  • Assessing board effectiveness;
  • Public Affairs & Government Relations/Board Relationships; and
  • Power in numbers – strategic partners that bolster your efforts.