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5 Best Practices for Utility Compliance: How to Avoid Regulatory Violations

Dan Calano
Jul 17, 2021 1:13:00 PM

Utilities are required to retrieve, compile and integrate data from multiple sources across geography, teams, contractors, systems with accurate, up-to-date information on their day-to-day operations. With so many moving parts, how do you stay compliant and avoid regulations?

Regulatory utility compliance guidelines change frequently, so it’s important to stay on top of compliance in your industry. Utilities are usually spread out, with assets scattered over varying geographies, which makes it harder to list assets and oversee reporting. There are plenty of ways to avoid regulatory violations and ensure compliance across your organization. 

The first step is the easiest. Start by creating a clear list of all regulatory utility compliance rules, and make sure you review it on a regular basis so you can stay up-to-date. (Note: What's compliant today might not be compliant a few months from now.)

What is utility compliance?

Utilities are expected to deliver clean, safe, reliable, and affordable energy and water to millions of residential and commercial customers and they must be compliant with all of the rules and regulations that govern the industry. 

To maintain safe, fair and ethical business operations, utility companies must follow certain laws and regulations. Failing to comply with your industry’s laws and regulations can lead to legal and financial penalties, which can greatly damage your reputation and customer trust. 

The amount of laws and regulations the industry needs to follow makes regulatory utility compliance challenging. This includes guidelines from the EPA, FERC, NERC, etc., state public utility laws, as well as a slew of other local, regional, state and federal requirements.

Pro Tip: Make sure you have someone to understand the regulations that affect your business and oversee your utility compliance requirements.

There is no one-size fits all approach to regulatory utility compliance management. Every Utility follows its own specific internal framework, however, all Utilities should follow these 5compliance best practices to avoid regulatory violations.  

Utility compliance best practices

1. Conduct a compliance audit and review 

When following regulatory utility compliance best practices, a thorough audit and review of company compliance will always serve you well. 

Many companies have a CCO, hire a consultant, or even have a team on board to handle risk management and utility compliance. This allows you to conduct a full comprehensive review of all the regulatory utility compliance areas your company needs to address. 

Besides assessing whether or not your business is meeting all of your required laws and regulations, you need to review your company’s current utility compliance efforts so you know if you have any at-risk areas that need improvement. Start by reviewing things like the total amount of violations you have had, how much they have cost you etc.  

Conducting an audit and establishing where you are in your utility compliance efforts allows you to plan for the future so you can stay on top of regulations and reduce violations. 

2. Create effective policies and procedures

Policies and procedures are necessary to both guide and inform your employees of your organizational values and current business operations. Most importantly, they can be used to help reduce your regulatory risk when it comes to utility compliance. 

Utility compliance lies in your ability to manage, distribute, and track your policies and procedures and ensure your employees not only know, but understand them. You simply cannot fully comply with regulations if your employees do not follow your policies and procedures. We suggest you invest in employee training to make sure everyone is on the same page.  

3. Adopt a utility management software

Cloud-based utility management software is becoming more popular and common in the industry, especially when it comes to regulatory compliance management. These software programs are not only easy to maintain and operate but they make tracking and reporting compliance easy. 

Utility compliance management software applications are designed to develop the company’s regulatory system and store information. They can also automatically extract data from daily work to create, submit and organize reports, and you can even use them to trigger alerts for non-compliance.  

Pro Tip: The right Utility compliance management software can ultimately help train your employees on regulatory utility compliance at your company.     

4. Communicate Continuously

While written policies and procedures can serve as a powerful tool for regulatory utility compliance, communication is still important. If you want to put regulatory utility compliance best practices to work in your organization, employee communication is critical.  

It’s important to regularly communicate on performance, what the issues are, what they mean for employees, and what needs to be done to correct them and avoid violations so you can fix problems and create a culture of compliance. 

Pro Tip: Make sure your leadership and those responsible for compliance communicate risks, performance and compliance-related information throughout the company. Leveraging the right software tools provide information at everyone’s fingertips with real-time updated information.

5. Track and report utility compliance in real time

Keep track of your utility compliance with monitoring and reporting. Ongoing monitoring helps keep track of your company’s utility compliance status and allows you to build a sustainable structure for consistent and efficient reporting and documentation.

Look for management software applications that have features like remote monitoring to help managers and executives keep track of performance and reports, as well as automated processes for compliance reporting.      

Benefits of reporting with utility compliance management software

  • Automated compliance reporting 
  • Alerts for regulatory violations and non-compliance 
  • Create customized reports 
  • Automatically extract data to create and submit reports
  • Configure additional reports on the fly 

Improve your ability to control complex utility compliance requirements by staying up-to-date on industry standards, laws, rules, and regulations. Well-crafted, comprehensive policies and procedures, training, communication, tracking and reporting are critical for companies to avoid the regulatory risks and violations associated with non-compliance in the energy and utilities sector.  

Follow our five best practices to help you avoid regulatory violations and create a culture of utility compliance at your company.

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