Florida Public Power Leaders Receive National Awards

Posted By: Garnie Holmes Association News ,

Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) and Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) today announced Florida public power leaders who were honored with American Public Power Association (APPA) national awards. Recognized were Kathleen Thacker, Board of Directors Chair of Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA), Julio Torrado, Keys Energy Services Director of Human Resources and Communications, and Lakeland Electric. The awards were presented during the Public Power Connect Virtual Summit. Additionally, Lynne Tejeda with Keys Energy Services was reappointed to a three-year term on APPA’s Board of Directors during the Association’s annual business meeting yesterday.

Thacker received the Spence Vanderlinden Public Official Award for her contributions toward APPA’s goal to be effective leaders and advocates for public power. During her decade of service to APPA and KUA, Thacker has focused on providing affordable, reliable and clean power to KUA’s 79,000 customers while advocating for public power at state and federal legislative rallies.

Thacker attended her first of many APPA events in 2011 and for 10 years has been a dedicated governing board member, who strives to educate herself on the industry in order to be an effective leader and advocate for public power. Thacker’s dedication and active participation have distinguished her as a leader among her peers.

Torrado received the Harold Kramer-John Preston Personal Service Award, which recognizes individuals for their exceptional service to APPA. He has contributed countless hours to APPA to advance the goals of the association and currently serves on APPA’s Public Communications Committee, Human Resources Committee and Energy Services Committee. He has also represented public power at various local, state and national conferences.

During Hurricane Irma, Torrado’s communications efforts were instrumental in timely communication to customers. As a result of his commitment, he was invited to participate in daily radio broadcasts and an interview with NPR. Torrado also wrote a blog for APPA on “Disaster Response and Mutual Aid” and published a paper with APPA on “Five Lessons from Hurricane Irma.”

Each year utilities that have demonstrated advances in the development or application of creative, energy-efficient techniques or technologies are honored with the DEED Energy Innovator Award. This year Lakeland Electric was recognized for its Damage Assessment Restoration Toolset, which created an easy-to-use mobile solution for all facets of damage assessment and data collection.

After experiencing significant damage from Hurricane Irma, Lakeland Electric discovered that its former paper-based data collection system and process did not capture all the information needed to satisfy FEMA requirements for cost reimbursement. The recognized toolset allows for information and assessment to be gathered on-site, with or without internet connection, for faster restoration and cost recovery times and greater information accuracy. The application has received praise from Lakeland officials and been covered in various local and trade magazines.

Additionally, the APPA Nominating Committee nominated Tejeda for a three-year term on the association's board. This is the second time Tejeda has been elected to APPA’s board. For 30 years, she has demonstrated her dedication to public power within her local municipality, and as the current Vice Chair of the FMPA Board of Directors and a former FMEA president.

Tejeda serves on APPA’s Legislative and Resolutions Committee and was previously an active member of the Public Communications Committee, as well as a speaker at the Customer Connections Conference. She is a regular attendee at APPA’s National Conference, legislative rallies and participates in many APPA list serve groups. She has also received various honors from APPA including the E.F. Scattergood System Achievement Award in 2017 and the Harold Kramer-John Preston Personal Service Award in 2013.

Each of the Florida public power award recipients were honored for their leadership and contributions to public policy and advocacy.