CUB’s updated strategic plan

Published December 3, 2020

On a Saturday in mid-February of this year, CUB’s staff and board of directors gathered for the day. We shared a meal, reflected on the organization’s growth, and discussed how to best recalibrate our focus in the years to come. That retreat resulted in the updated strategic plan that you see below. 

CUB had conducted strategic planning in 2017, when the organization was barely a year old. At that point, the question before the board and staff was what CUB should be, how to grow our capacities and our programs, and how to build a strong foundation for the new organization. Now, CUB is fairly well established, and the team took on the question of how to prioritize opportunities and make the greatest impact on behalf of Minnesota consumers.

Our priorities fall in four areas: (1) consumer outreach to support all Minnesotans while addressing long-standing inequities in energy systems; (2) advocacy to influence utility policy making and regulation for a rapid transition to clean energy that benefits consumers, affordable energy, and consumer protections; (3) developing CUB’s base of support; and (4) strengthening CUB’s funding to expand the organization and ensure long-term sustainability.

CUB’s board approved this strategic plan this fall. The plan will guide CUB’s work for the next two to three years. Based on this plan, CUB will set an annual work plan with measurable objectives each year. Each employee will have their own work plan — their piece of the organization’s overall goals. At each of its meetings, the board of directors evaluates CUB’s progress towards annual objectives and discusses any adjustments that may be necessary in order to make sure that we are on track with the strategic direction that has been set.

As always, CUB welcomes feedback. If you have comments, please contact me at annielf@cubminnesota.org.  

And if you value the work that CUB does, please support it with a contribution today


2020 Strategic Plan – Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota

I.  Mission

CUB advocates for affordable and reliable utility service and clean energy for residential and small business consumers across Minnesota.

 

II. Long-term goal

CUB is the advocate for Minnesota consumers – maximizing economic, environmental, and equitable opportunities in energy as a highly capable, independent and trusted voice.

 

III. Two-to three year priorities and strategic initiatives

Priority 1: Conduct consumer outreach that supports all Minnesotans while addressing long-standing inequities in energy systems.

Strategic Initiative A: Provide timely resources and counseling to help consumers achieve their utility-related goals
Provide presentations and consultations to people throughout Minnesota to help them save money, reduce their environmental impacts, understand their roles and opportunities in state energy policy, and achieve their personal goals related to their home energy.

Strategic Initiative B: Define, measure, and map historic and persistent energy inequities
Define the inequities (for example: energy burden, air pollution, access to utility programs, underrepresented in decision-making arenas) and identify Minnesota communities most affected.

Strategic Initiative C: Align outreach program priorities to addressing historic and persistent inequities
Over-represent affected communities in CUB’s outreach work. Continue to cultivate partnerships with BIPOC organizations, and develop new partnerships in these and other communities. Pursue outreach programming that is meaningful to these partners and communities. Make explicit that addressing inequities is an essential component of consumer advocacy.

Strategic Initiative D: Establish CUB’s reputation and credibility
Continue to build awareness of CUB and our reputation as a knowledgeable and helpful resource for consumers.

 

Priority 2: Influence utility policy making and regulation for a rapid transition to clean energy that benefits consumers, affordable energy, and consumer protections.

Strategic Initiative A: Advocate for cost-effective solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental impacts of energy systems
Achieve consumer- and environmentally friendly outcomes that influence utility generation mix; consumers’ opportunities for conservation and clean resources; grid modernization; and other opportunities to reduce costs and emissions.

Strategic Initiative B: Advocate for energy affordability for Minnesota households and for financial benefits for utility consumers.
Achieve policy and regulatory victories that lower costs for residential consumers overall, allow consumers a fair share in the benefits from energy systems and the clean energy transition, and recognize that disparate impacts on different types of consumers necessitate more granular analysis and consideration of policies and programs on a deeper level than the residential class overall.

Strategic Initiative C: Advance access to energy data
Advance access to energy data that will allow CUB and others to analyze and understand disparate impacts of utility policies and practices on different types of residential consumers.

Strategic Initiative D: Strengthen protections and options for at-risk consumers
Advance consumer protections, short-term bill assistance options, and long-term solutions for households at risk of falling behind on bills and service disconnections.

 

Priority 3: Develop a large and growing base of supporters
Separate the concept of membership from fundraising, and greatly expand CUB’s base. Transition away from the language of “membership” and the definition of membership support solely related to financial contribution toward a network of supporters defined as the community that backs CUB, and serving whom is CUB’s mission.

Strategic Initiative A: Define the value proposition of being a supporter
Be able to articulate the value of CUB to Minnesota consumers, our supporters, and donors.

Strategic Initiative B: Establish a ladder of engagement
Develop a plan to engage and retain supporters. Clarify various activities that supporters can engage in and develop a plan to lead supporters up a ladder of support.

Strategic Initiative C: Prioritize targeted cultivation and engagement of supporter groups
Identify priority constituencies based on CUB’s strategic plan and annual work plan, identify and cultivate partners, and develop engagement strategies (for example, through outreach activities and digital marketing).

Strategic Initiative D: Define metrics and protocols for measuring, tracking, and reporting supporters
Supporters may include email subscribers, people who attend CUB events or receive consultations, donors, and others.

Strategic Initiative E: Provide regular communications that show CUB as an authentic voice for Minnesota consumers
Achieve frequent mentions in earned media. Use paid media for strategic opportunities. Provide regular communications through CUB’s online channels (social media, email newsletter, and website).

 

Priority 4: Grow and diversify CUB’s funding

Strategic Initiative A: Solidify current foundation funding and win grants from additional foundations
Expect CUB to be primarily foundation-funded for the foreseeable future. Diversifying foundation funding is a top priority.

Strategic Initiative B: Explore intervenor funding
Request intervenor compensation in a rate case, as a source of funding and also to better understand the current intervenor compensation process. Explore opportunities to expand intervenor compensation.

Strategic Initiative C: Expand additional sources of funding
Increase funding from organizational donors, contracts, and/or other sources.

Strategic Initiative D: Board members leverage their strengths to support CUB fundraising
Each board member seeks opportunities to support fundraising that leverage their strengths, in consultation with executive director and board leadership.

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Author: Annie Levenson-Falk

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