Communicating With Customers To Fulfill The Mission

GRDA Chief Technical Officer Tim Brown speaks with customers during a recent customer meeting at the Ecosystems and Education Center in Langley. Customer meetings are important, because they allow GRDA to receive important feedback used to help develop plans and make decisions for the utility’s future.

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

Long-term relationships with customers are common at the Grand River Dam Authority. In fact, GRDA has partnered with its largest customer – Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Inc. – since the 1940s. Together, these organizations have helped power growth and development, while enhancing quality of life, across a large area of Oklahoma.

GRDA has other partnerships that also stretch back to the first half of the 20th century.  Most of the communities that purchase wholesale electricity from GRDA – communities like Miami, Stilwell and Cushing – have been doing so for over 60 years. They were depending on GRDA electricity when the utility’s entire generation portfolio consisted of the hydroelectric turbines at the Pensacola Dam.

As the years went by and GRDA added generation resources like Robert S. Kerr Dam and the Salina Pumped Storage Project, customers were part of that effort, and continued to benefit from the reliable, renewable power created from the waters of the Grand River. Then, in the early 1980s, when GRDA stepped into a new era – thermal generation – those partnerships were enhanced as new levels of reliability were suddenly available with electricity from the GRDA Coal Fired Complex. All along the way, from the construction of dams to the construction of boilers, customers have partnered with GRDA as future generation resources were discussed and important decisions were made.

That is still the case today. Just last week at the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center in Langley, the Authority’s leadership team met with approximately 70 customer representatives. From all areas of the customer base – municipals, electric cooperatives, industries, off-system firm – the representatives came to hear GRDA’s plans for the future and to provide their feedback. Today, GRDA’s electric generation portfolio is a beneficial mixture of hydroelectric, natural gas, coal and wind. But what does tomorrow’s portfolio hold? What is best for GRDA, for the customer base and for state of Oklahoma? As it talked about the challenges and opportunities, GRDA’s goal was to answer these questions, with input from customer-partners which, in many cases, have stood with GRDA for over six-plus decades,

In the opening lines of its mission statement, GRDA pledges to “to provide low-cost, reliable electric power and related services to our customers and to be responsive to the interests and concerns of public power users, the communities we affect, and the people of the state of Oklahoma.” In settings like last week’s customer informational meeting – and the others planned for later this year – GRDA is communicating face-to-face with customers as it works to fulfill that mission.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable; electricity serves nearly 500,000 homes in Oklahoma and stretches into 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.

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