Public Power: An American Tradition that Works
image credit: Public Power Week
- Oct 8, 2020 3:54 pm GMTOct 8, 2020 2:43 pm GMT
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What is public power?
While most Americans are served by investor-owned, for-profit utilities, about one in seven—approximately 50 million people—are served by not-for-profit electric utilities that are typically units of state or local government. Most of them are very small, serving less than 10,000 people, but many serve some of our nation’s large cities, such as Los Angeles, San Antonio and Nashville.
These public power utilities are laser-focused on providing reliable, affordable, safe, and environmentally sensitive power to their customers. And they are really good at it. Many of them have been around for more than 100 years, but all of them are proud to keep the lights on for their friends and neighbors. They are also uniquely motivated to listen to what their customers want and especially nimble when it comes to acting on these community desires. Whether it’s rolling out electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Gastonia, North Carolina, or building a community solar farm in Moorhead, Minnesota, public power utilities can leverage local government decision-making to step up their service to meet customer needs.
And when times are tough—like during a pandemic or in the wake of a major storm—public power utilities have shown time and time again that they are willing and able to step up to keep the lights on… or to get them back on safely and quickly. Public power enjoys a “mutual aid” network of more than 1,000 utilities that are ready to help their sister public power utilities recover from storms and other disasters—whether the in-need utility is across the county, across the state, or on the other side of the country.
The 93,000 people who work for public power are hardworking, humble, service-oriented people who really care about powering their communities. They typically keep their heads down and keep the lights on. So, during Public Power Week, we at APPA like to take it upon ourselves to call attention to these good people, the solid utilities they run, and the time-tested tradition of public power.
Happy Public Power Week!