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ARIZONA PUBLIC SERVICE NAMED NATION'S TOP ELECTRIC UTILITY

 CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The electric utility industry's highest honor -- the Edison Award -- was presented today to Arizona Public Service Co. (Phoenix) for its transformation from a traditional, rate-driven utility to a highly competitive, customer- focused company.
 The Edison Award, sponsored annually by Edison Electric Institute (EEI), recognizes the electric company whose accomplishments in 1992 contributed the most to the growth and development of the industry.
 "Arizona Public Service's (APS) successful efforts to use its new company vision and strategic plan to create a more productive and responsive utility is a model for the industry," Edward F. Mitchell, EEI chairman and chairman and CEO of Potomac Electric Power Company (Washington, D.C.) said when presenting the award at EEI's 61st annual convention in Charlotte.
 "The results of APS' concerted efforts are undeniable," Mitchell said. "APS is now one of the most innovative, results-oriented, and community-linked utilities in the nation, as proven by high performance and satisfaction ratings across the board."
 APS President and Chief Executive Officer Mark De Michele, in accepting the award on behalf of the company, singled out the utility's 7,000 workers for special recognition.
 "It was their dedication, their innovation, and above all their desire to really make a difference that enabled us to turn APS around," he said.
 He added that changes at APS are continuing. "Actually, the job is never accomplished. Our programs, ideas and processes keep evolving and that is what must happen to keep up with the constantly changing utility industry."
 De Michele said APS remains committed to continuous improvement and will become more customer-focused while further reducing its costs.
 Some statistics begin to paint the picture of APS' recent successes. In 1992, APS received its highest customer satisfaction ratings in history -- 96 percent. APS ranked as Arizona's best corporate citizen last year, up from third the previous year. APS employees saved $44 million from the company's $615 million operating and maintenance and fuel budgets in 1992. And, APS has trimmed its costs of producing a kilowatt-hour of electricity by 10 percent.
 Special attention should go to the turnaround of APS' nuclear program. In 1989, Palo Verde's three units were down more than they were operating. By 1992, Palo Verde's capacity fao?r had soared to more than 79 percent, more than 10 percentage points higher than the industry standard.
 These impressive numbers stem from an in-depth "culture change" program at APS, tied with a new aggressive company vision and a comprehensive strategic plan. For example, APS's new mission, "Top Five by `95," means that APS intends to be among the top five investor-owned electric utilities in America by 1995 in customer service, cost management, power plant performance, nuclear and industrial safety, and environmental performance.
 To mobilize employees to meet the company's ambitious goals, every APS employee has gone through a challenging and innovative program called FOCUS. Managers learned what it took to make lasting and strategic change in complex situations during an intensive, five-day course. Front-line workers developed positive motivation for quality work and customer satisfaction during a separate three-day program. And, APS has enacted an incentive system rewarding company-wide progress toward specific corporate goals.
 De Michele said, "Management challenged the employees and they challenged us right back. They met our expectations, then they established new ones that even astonished us. So this award definitely celebrates our employees' excitement, enthusiasm and above all, commitment to the new APS."
 An important aspect of APS's 1992 performance is that despite its focus on internal changes, the company continued its strong commitment to Arizona communities. The utility helped organize employee volunteer activities (APS staff gave over 50,000 hours of their time last year); APS formed the Arizona Environmental Strategic Alliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the company continued its "In Concert with the Environment" and "Kids Voting" educational initiatives; and the utility led economic development activities in the state.
 A panel consisting of Mitchell, the outgoing EEI chairman; Frank Griffith, a former EEI chairman; and Dr. Herbert Woodson, dean of College of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, selected the winner of this year's Edison Award.
 EEI is the association of investor-owned electric utilities whose members generate and distribute approximately three-quarters of the nation's electricity.
 -0- 6/9/3
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: 1992 Edison Award Citation -- Arizona Public Service Company: For a corporate-culture restructuring process that has transformed the company from a traditional, rate-driven utility to a competitive, strategically guided, customer-driven utility that encourages innovation and achievement among its employees. As a result, APS cut the cost of producing a kwh by 10 percent, its fossil plants went from fifth to third in the nation (measured by equivalent availability) and employees saved $44 million from the operating and fuel budget of $615 million. Using such strategies as "critical success indicators," a new employee performance system and a "gainsharing" incentive program, APS continues toward its goal to be among the top five utilities in the United States by 1995./
 /CONTACT: Cynthia Liston of EEI, 704-343-2557 or 202-508-5661, or Wayne Kaplan of APS, 602-250-2037/


CO: Edison Electric Institute; Arizona Public Service Company ST: North Carolina, Arizona IN: UTI SU:

CK-SL -- NY021 -- 0101 06/09/93 10:56 EST
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Date:Jun 9, 1993
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