Knowledge, experience keep the economic engine running

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

At its September 12 meeting, the Grand River Dam Authority Board of Directors recognized four of the organization’s soon-to-be retirees.

That is not really an unusual event. After all, in an organization the size of GRDA there are many employees reaching retirement eligibility throughout the year. However, while the utility is better off for the many years and contributions of these men and women, it is also true that every retirement means some valuable experience is exiting.

The four retirees recognized in September are a good example of this: combined, they gave 113 years of service to GRDA in areas such as information technology, power plant maintenance and operation, and system operations. On average, each retiree was with GRDA for 28-plus years. 

GRDA linemen make repairs to a electric distribution pole in the MidAmerica Industrial Park. Maintaining a workforce of skilled linemen to complete these kinds of tasks, as well as hundreds of other duties on a daily basis, is a top priority for GRDA. After all, these employees help to maintain one of the most important economic development engines in the region.

That length of service is not surprising though, when you consider the findings in a recent compensation study by the Oklahoma Office of Personnel Management (OPM). According to the study, GRDA’s classified workforce turnover rate stood at 2.7 percent at the end of 2011. That number is roughly five times lower than the average for all state agencies and is a good gauge of employee satisfaction. Low turnover rates means a lot of dedicated employees – along with their skills and experiences – stay at GRDA.
Of course, a retiring workforce does need to be replaced. Fortunately, the turnover rate means new members of the workforce often have the opportunity to work alongside long-tenured employees. That is one way the knowledge and experiences of yesterday can be captured for tomorrow’s benefit. 

That is important at GRDA, where electric utility operations are conducted in a highly-regulated environment that demands low-cost, abundant power is produced and delivered 24/7, 365. It is also important on the lake operations side because GRDA must manage over 70,000 surface acres of some of the most popular waters in Oklahoma while balancing the interests of all lake users, as well as the ecosystems of the Grand River system. Both GRDA low cost electricity, and GRDA waters, are part of the economic development engine contributing to a high quality of life in the area. Without using tax dollars, skilled GRDA employees – in all areas of the organization – help keep that engine running.

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.

# # #