Public Power Workforce Challenges

Public Power Workforce Challenges have been identified as one of the areas of focus in APPA's Strategic Plan. This initiative focuses on APPA's provision of assistance to member utilities in key workforce-related areas that have been identified as priority issues: (1) recruitment and retention; (2) succession planning and staff development; (3) workforce diversity; and (4) establishing sound human resource policies. Additional resources in each of these areas will be developed in 2016 and beyond. For additional information on this initiative, please contact Ursula Schryver, Vice President,, Education & customer Programs at


Public Power Mentoring Toolkit Members Only
APPA has developed a mentoring toolkit to help APPA members in the development of mentorship programs at their utilities. This toolkit includes a quick start guide, in addition to templates for mentor and mentee applications, discussions and activities.

The toolkit provides structure for the first several months of the mentor and the mentee working together and can be used to develop new programs or enhance existing programs. The documents are available as a PDF or as a Microsoft Word file to allow for customization.

Public Power Needs to Pay: Why competitive pay is vital to the public power business model Members Only
Public power utilities provide reliable electric service at comparably low cost, yet public power utilities generally pay less than cooperatives and Investor-owned utility. This pay disparity threatens to undermine the public power advantage as qualified employees may be tempted to work for other utilities or may not even consider working for public power utilities to begin with. This report quantifies the many advantages public power utilities offer, and also provides comparative salary information for public power utilities, cooperatives, and IOUs. It also offers suggestions on communicating the need for competitive pay to governing bodies and the public.

Preserving a Vibrant Public Power Workforce - Building a sustainable succession planning program to preserve your vibrant public power workforce Members Only
The current environment of ongoing retirements combined with an increasingly inexperienced workforce underscores the importance of workforce and succession planning. To plan for succession, organizations should rethink their strategies and ensure effective planning is taking place. In the end, succession planning within the utilities sector is not merely about creating a plan, but working to adapt that plan to current business needs and future industry changes. This report discusses the importance of establishing a succession-planning program in your utility and tools to identify, evaluate, and mentor future successors at all levels.

Promote Human Resource Excellence – Checklist to Assess your Human Resource Functions
Utilities are challenged more than ever with attracting and retaining employees who have the skills necessary to replace the retiring workforce. Your utility’s human resources (HR) function is critical to laying the foundation for the future generation of employees. How does your utility’s HR function measure up? This checklist is designed to provide a high-level overview of best practices for your HR function grouped into five key areas below. Using this checklist, you can complete a quick assessment of your utility’s operational effectiveness in each of these critical areas and identify internal deficiencies.

2015 Workforce Survey Summary Report
This report summarizes the results of the American Public Power Association’s 2015 Workforce Survey. The report highlights how the public power sector of the electric utility industry is preparing for and responding to the anticipated retirements of a significant portion of its work force.

APPA Salary Survey
APPA conducts a survey of salaries in local publicly owned electric utilities. The survey encompasses annual salaries for 27 management positions and hourly pay data for 24 non-management positions. The report summarizes data from the respondents and breaks down the average and median salaries by customer-size class, revenue class, and by region. The report is a useful barometer to benchmark salary information for your utility against your public power peers. The report also provides salary data for upper-level management of rural electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities (IOU). The report is free for all APPA members who participated in the survey. Other member utilities may purchase the report from the APPA product store. Download an executive summary of the 2016 survey here.

APPA also conducts a survey of salaries for Joint Action Agencies. This survey asks for salary information for 22 positions. The report summarizes the salary data and breaks out average and median salaries by revenue size and generation class. The report is available free for all JAAs. Please contact Paul Zummo for a copy.


Opportunities for Students

Watch these videos to find out about jobs in public power

 Apply for a scholarship

Our research and demonstration program, DEED (Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments) offers scholarships to post-secondary students who are interested in working at a public power utility.  Visit our DEED web pages to learn more.

What is an apprenticeship?

Are you at least 18 years old? Do you have a high school diploma or GED? Are you looking for a challenging career?  Apprenticeship programs offer high school graduates interested in skilled-trade positions an opportunity to develop the skills necessary to pursue a career with the electric utility. These programs combine classroom coursework with on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced employees. Many utilities have apprenticeship programs for lineworkers, machinists, electricians, meter electricians and utility constructions workers. Visit our online job board to see what kinds of opportunities are available at public power utilities.

APPA's Online Job Board

Check out APPA's active online job board to see the job descriptions and qualifications for a variety of jobs in the electric utility industry. The job board also offers a free resume posting and resume building service for job seekers to upload their resume so employers can search those on file when job opportunities are available. There is also a job search resource center with tips on interviewing, changing careers and navigating social media. Please login to access all the job seeker resources.

Interested in APPA's Student Membership

This is available to undergraduate or graduate students that are interested in pursuing a career in the energy industry. More detailed information on the membership is located here.

Connect with Peers

Human Resources Listserv

Communicate with personnel, labor relations, compensation and benefits, and training specialists who deal with human resource policies and practices of a local public power system.

Public Power Women Linked In Group

This group encourages the networking of women leaders, executives and professionals working at or for public power utilities and is for women in public power to meet and discuss relevant issues and challenges with a focus on career and leadership development.

Meet With Peers at Upcoming Events

  • 2016 APPA Business & Financial Conference, Sept. 18-21, San Antonio, Texas
    • Meet Your HR & Training Colleagues
    • Strategic Planning's Impact on HR Policies and Procedures
    • Hiring & Training the Next Generation of Utility Workers
    • Building an Ethical Workplace Culture
    • Strategies to Increase Diversity in Your Talent Pool
    • Active Shooter in the Workplace
    • Ask an HR Attorney
    • Key Players...IT, HR, and Finance's Role in Developing a Business Continuity Plan and Testing Disaster Recovery Capabilities






Additional Resources

Recruitment & Retention

Conference Presentations:

  • Executive Compensation Packages to Attract the Best (2016 APPA National Conference)
    • Tim Blodgett, President/CEO Hometown Connections, 12 pp. [pdf]
    • Lanie Prouse, Managing Director, Mycoff, Fry & Prouse, 13 pp. [pdf]
    • Dave Walters, General Manager, Grand Haven Board of Light & Power, 20 pp. [pdf]
  • Workforce Challenges: How Joint Action Agencies Are Preparing (2015 APPA Joint Action Workshop)
    • Cliff Lewis, Southern California Public Power Authority, 12 pp. [pdf]
    • Carl Mycoff, Mycoff Fry & Prouce, LLC, 6 pp. [pdf]
    • Jackie Sargent, Platte River Power Authority, 27 pp. [pdf]
  • Recruiting and Retaining Qualified Employees with Competitive Pay (2015 APPA National Conference)
    • Troy Adams, Elk River Municipal Utilities, Minn., "[pdf]," 12 pp
    • Troy DeJoode, Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, "[pdf]," 16 pp.
  • Building Your Talent Pipeline: Creating Successful Mentoring and Internship Programs (2015 APPA Business & Financial Conference)
  • Tomorrow’s Utility Workforce (2015 APPA Customer Connections Conference)
    • Wanda Reder, S&C Electric Company, [pdf], pp 32

Click here for more presentations


Additional Resources

Succession Planning & Staff Development

Articles and Blogs

Five Myths About Pay That Are Killing Your Utility NEW

Igniting the Spark

Burbank apprentice program creates bond with future workforce

Staffing Strike Zone: Pitch with Customer and Revenue Data

Following Your Instincts

Alcoholism in the Workplace: Helping Them Get Help


  • Succession Planning Toolkits for Critical Positions (2016 APPA National Conference)
    • Anita Decker, Executive Director, Northwest Public Power Association, [pdf] 23 pp Members Only
    • Laurie Rodriguez, Manager, Talent Management, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, [pdf] 22 pp Members Only
  • The Boss will See You Now: Training Up Better Leaders (2015 Business  & Financial Conference)
    • Linda Wishard,[pdf]29 pp Members Only
  • Pass the Knowledge Please: Succession Planning (2014 Business & Financial Conference)
    • Janet McTague, Fort Collins Utilities, pdf, 23 pp Members Only

Click here for more presentations


Additional Resources

Workforce Diversity

  • Embracing and Cultivating Workforce Diversity (2016 National Conference)
    • Tim Burke, President & CEO, Angela Galloway, Sr.Org Development Consultant, Dave Insinger, T&D Project Manager, Maurice Kimsey, Account Executive and Courtney Polk, Corp. Performance & Process Engineer, [pdf]," 24 pp. Members Only
  • Building an Effective Workplace Diversity Program (2014 National Conference)
    • Daryl Hibbert and Tansay Carter, Lansing Board of Water & Light, Mich., "[pdf]," 27 pp. Members Only
  • Generations in the Workplace (2014 National Conference)
    • Danette Scudder, Tennessee Valley Public Power Association, Chattanooga, Tenn., "[pdf]," 35 pp. Members Only



Additional Resources

Establishing Sound Human Resource Policies

  • Sound HR for a Sound Utility: Tips & Tricks (2016 APPA National Conference)
    • Dave Koster, General Manager, Holland Board of Public Works, [pdf], 18pp. Members Only
    • Paul McElroy, CEO & Managing Director, JEA, Jacksonville, Fla., [pdf], 21pp. Members Only
  • Background Screenings: What’s Hot and What’s Not (2015 Business & Financial Conference)
    • Mary Poquette, [pdf], pp 41 Members Only
  • New Cutting Edge Labor and Employment Law Issues that In-House Counsel Need to Know and Understand (2015 Legal Seminar)
    • Jonathan Mook, DiMuro Ginsburg PC, [pdf], 18 pp. Members Only
  • Employee Handbooks: 2015 and Beyond (2015 Webinar)

 Click here for more presentations