April 2022 – The American Public Power Association has recognized the Zeeland Board of Public Works (BPW) in earning the Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3)® Diamond Level designation. “We take the responsibility of powering our community seriously and couldn’t be more proud to be honored with the highest RP3 Level designation,” said Andrew Boatright, General Manager for Zeeland BPW.
The American Public Power Association is the voice of not-for-profit, community-owned utilities that power 49 million people in 2,000 towns and cities nationwide. Only 275 public power utilities hold the RP3 designation. “With a small organization, the work of every member of our team is vital to serving our customers,” Boatright explained.
The RP3 designation, which lasts for three years, recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement. Obtaining this recognition can be challenging for electric organizations, such as Zeeland BPW, that serve a wide range of customers. Therefore, it’s necessary to plan long before power is generated and/or received at the Zeeland BPW Power Plant located on Washington Avenue.
“Our electric service territory is unique. In addition to our residential customers, we have many industrial customers. Our Board of Commissioners must be cognizant of economic fluctuations when investing in our infrastructure,” explained Boatright. “It’s our duty to both our industrial and residential customers to make system improvements that support growth yet don’t become burdensome in times of economic hardship.”
That means balancing community demands, technology opportunities, and renewable resources. “We’re constantly assessing our customers’ needs and the best options available to meet those,” said Bob Mulder, the Power Supply & Market Operations Manager for Zeeland BPW. “As we plan our operations, we routinely evaluate our long-term capacity and adjust our portfolio to stay ahead of our customers’ anticipated capacity needs. “
“Another important piece of receiving this recognition is the maintenance and improvements to the primary overhead lines and underground lines,” added Tracey DeKraker, Zeeland BPW’s Transmission & Distribution Manager. “By closely inspecting our lines with infrared cameras to detect hot spots and trimming trees annually, we understand our system in-depth.”
Zeeland BPW began providing electric service to local residents and businesses in 1902 and is community-owned and operated. “Much of our team lives right here in the Zeeland community. The families, specifically the spouses and children of our staff members, know just how committed this team is to safety and reliability,” said DeKraker, “it’s quite special to know other people see that hard work too.”