Program Description

Effective governance is critical to a public power utility’s success. Public power policymakers preside over a significant community asset in a vital sector of the American economy.

The operation of the public power utility affects the economy, quality of life, operations, and efficiency of every home, business, and institution in its service territory. Because utility governing board members perform an important service for their communities, it is imperative that they understand the complex industry issues that affect their utility, as well as their personal duties, responsibilities, and obligations as policymakers.

Click here to view a copy of the Governance Certificate Program brochure.

Who Should Participate
This program is designed for newly elected or appointed utility policymakers, city council and utility board members, though experienced policy officials will also benefit from these educational opportunities.

Key Areas of Importance for Public Power Governance
This program focuses on the five key components of effective public utility governance outlined below. The required curriculum is designed to help policymakers build knowledge and skills within those areas to effectively govern their organizations through the evolutionary years ahead.

1. Electric Utility Industry Overview: Power supply and delivery are highly technical and complex issues. It is important for public power managers and policymakers to have a fundamental understanding of the components of an electric system and how they impact the utility’s budget and end-use consumers.

Through the industry overview coursework, participants will gain a broad, non-technical overview of how the components of an electric system function together to provide reliable and environmentally sustainable service to customers.

2. Duties, Responsibilities and Legal Obligations: When elected or appointed to a public power board or city council, new governing board members often find little specific information on their duties and responsibilities nor a formal description of their job requirements.

Within the utility governance portion of the program, participants will learn about the public power business model; examine the legal and fiduciary duties incumbent upon public power policymakers; the policy responsibilities of governing boards, and how they differ from manage-ment; and additional responsibilities including creating a constructive board/management relationship, assuring an effective CEO, monitoring the organization’s performance, and determining the effectiveness of the governing body itself.

3. Performance Monitoring and Accountability: The public power governing body’s primary fiduciary duty is to represent the interests of the utility’s customer-owners by assuring the organization’s long-term viability. Policymakers do this by providing appropriate direction and assuring the utility is using resources and operating efficiently and effectively.

Included in this training are sessions where participants will learn the steps that the board and management should take in developing an effective process for monitoring utility performance to assure it is delivering the highest value to customers.

4. Strategic Planning: Once legal and fiduciary duties are met, among the most important aspects of utility governance is establishing the mission/vision for the organization and setting the utility’s direction, usually through the strategic planning process.

Through the curriculum, participants will examine a comprehensive process through which the utility can document current policies and procedures, identify operational strengths and weaknesses, plan for new programs to meet the changing needs of the community and explain the board and/or council’s roles in that process.

5. Utility Financial Operations: Utilities are under pressure to minimize rate impacts on customers while maintaining the financial health of the organization.

The certificate program also includes financial planning components, to ensure participants understand key financial targets to help secure the long-term financial stability of the utility, discover methods to assess the current financial condition of the utility, and learn about ways to identify potential areas of cost reductions or improvements while minimizing potential rate changes on customers.

To earn the Public Power Governance Certificate, participants must complete the following requirements within three years:

1. Complete the required coursework 
Coursework can be taken entirely online, through live, in-person training or through a combination of the two. 

2. Pass an online exam
The online exam, made up of 45 multiple choice questions, will assess the participant’s comprehension of the required coursework. Participants can take the exam at their convenience, after finishing the coursework requirement.

Individuals must score at least a 75% to pass the exam. Participants have two opportunities to pass the test, thereafter there will be a $50 fee assessed to retake the exam.


Enrollment Fees

APPA Members  - $1,300
Nonmembers - $2,600

The enrollment fee includes the cost of study material, exam grading, and review of the service department assessment/business plan.

How to Register
Click here to pay the enrollment fee, then contact APPA, to set up a coursework option that is right for you: 202/467-2921;

How to Attend
A selection of governance courses will be offered as preconference seminars at APPA's 2017 National Conference

Let Us Come To You!
We can also bring our courses to your location any time though our in-house training program—a convenient and cost-effective option for groups of five or more. This format also allows you to customize course content to address the specific goals that are important to your organization.

Pool Your Resources
Partner with neighboring public power utilities, state and regional associations, or joint action agencies to bring training to your area. This is a great way to share costs and to secure a location that is within driving distance (ideal for utilities facing travel restrictions or joint action agencies looking to add services for their members).

Contact APPA's Education Department, at 202/467-2921 or