In recognition of their pursuit of excellence in customer service and operations, and commitment to cutting-edge technological innovation, the Edison Electric Institute has named Progress Energy and Xcel Energy the 2006 recipients of the electric power industry's highest honor, the "Edison Award."
The industry also paid tribute to Korea Electric Power Corp., winner of this year's international Edison Award, for its technological achievements in completing two major electricity delivery projects, including a first-of-its- kind transmission line connecting an island-bound generating station with mainland Korea.
Given annually by EEI, the award honors U.S. shareholder-owned and international members for outstanding contributions to and advancement of the electric power industry. A committee of national industry trade publication editors and a panel of current and retired CEOs select the finalists and ultimate winners. This year's award, the 78th, was presented at EEI's annual meetings.
"The Edison Award recognizes distinguished leadership, innovation, and advancement of the industry in a manner that benefits all," said EEI President Thomas R. Kuhn. "These companies' dedication to meeting customer needs, commitment to operational excellence, and ingenuity in delivering electricity to wherever it's needed are unsurpassed. Their customers and shareholders will reap the benefits of their excellent performance in these areas, as will the entire electricity industry," Kuhn said.
During 2005, Raleigh-based Progress Energy's focus on customer satisfaction and operational excellence became a rallying cry for the companies' employees, resulting in an extraordinary year. The result of a sustained effort over several years, Progress built a culture of "People, Performance and Excellence," in which employees take responsibility for their own performance and understand how their jobs have a direct impact on reliability and service to their 3 million customers. As a result, Progress received the J.D. Power Founder's Award for excellence in customer service.
The company also demonstrated outstanding operation of its nuclear and fossil generating plants, obtaining exceptional performance, availability and cost efficiency. The Progress nuclear fleet consistently ranks among the best in the industry, with two plants -- Harris and H.B. Robinson -- setting production records last year. Performance of the company's fossil fleet in 2005 was equally impressive, with its Roxboro Plant in Person County, N.C., garnering recognition by the Electric Utility Cost Group as the best- performing large plant in the nation. Progress Energy also earned the top four spots among small fossil plants (less than 500 megawatts).
In addition, Progress Energy Florida completed an aggressive three-year Commitment to Excellence initiative last year, focusing on customer service and communication and major improvements in electric distribution reliability through advanced maintenance and metering.
Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy in 2005 began fully implementing a first-of- its-kind initiative, Utility Innovations, a partnership among its leading technology vendors to more fully leverage information technology to drive efficiencies in business operations, cost structure, and energy delivery, while increasing customer satisfaction. Xcel Energy fundamentally altered the traditional customer-vendor relationship in favor of a partnership between vendors, in which technology providers worked together to test and validate new technology, and to integrate existing technology, in untried ways.
Among Xcel Energy's Utility Innovation initiatives were a first-ever agreement with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to develop software to evaluate siting options for off-grid and grid-connected commercial rooftop solar electricity systems in Colorado, and development of a new software system analyzing both historical and real-time data to help predict generation equipment failures and improve power plant efficiency.
Xcel Energy also was honored for its environmental achievements in 2005, including adoption of one of the nation's largest, voluntary emissions reduction programs; a commitment to become one of the nation's largest providers of wind energy; and its cutting-edge research efforts aimed at opening the door to a new world of energy production and delivery.
Korea Electric Power Corp.
Technological innovation and expertise characterized Korea Electric Power Corp.'s (KEPCO) outstanding achievements in 2005. As the country's sole electric utility, KEPCO has successfully supported Korea's rapid economic growth by keeping pace with the electricity demand created by its 17 million customers. The company completed installation of the Younghung transmission line, a 345 kV project designed to enhance electricity supply and reliability for the Seoul metropolitan area. This initiative involved construction of twin marine transmission lines stretching for 39 kilometers to deliver power from a Younghung Island-bound generating station to the mainland. Of the 137 steel towers supporting the lines, 89 are anchored in the sea bed, employing new construction methods in order to withstand strong sea winds and thirty-foot tides. More than 60 public meetings and hearings in advance of the project helped win support from more than 188 non-governmental organizations and environmental groups.
KEPCO also completed a major secondary voltage system upgrade in 2005, designed to meet increased demand without replacing customers' interior electrical wires. To accomplish this, the company upgraded secondary distribution voltage from 100 to 220 volts, delivering twice as much power and reducing line losses to one forth of original levels. KEPCO specially designed several new pieces of equipment, including outlets, dual-purpose circuit breakers, and compact step-down transformers. The project took 32 years to complete.
"The electric power industry continually strives to improve its operational, environmental and financial performance by putting new ideas to the test on behalf of customers and shareholders," Kuhn said. "The accomplishments of Progress Energy, Xcel Energy and KEPCO are a reflection of their highly skilled and dedicated workforces and represent some of our industry's finest achievements. The challenges keep getting greater, and the companies keep stepping up to the plate," he said. "It's a privilege to honor each of these companies with our industry's highest award."