About 35 million Americans receive electricity from more than 2,000 community-owned electric utilities operated by municipalities, counties, states, or other public bodies such as public utility districts. They are in every state except Hawaii. These public power systems, owned and operated by the communities they serve, are deeply rooted in the history of the United States. They are an expression of the American ideal of local people working together to meet local needs. Like community schools, parks, hospitals, and water, sewer, police and fire departments, public power systems are locally created institutions that address a basic community need: they provide an essential public service and tackle a variety of local issues by involving the community in the decision-making processes.

 


Like all electric utilities, public power systems must meet an increasing variety of federal and state mandates. However, community ownership confers enormous benefits on citizens of public power cities because it provides wide latitude to make local decisions that best suit local needs and values. Every city and town has its own distinctive characteristics: natural resources, geography and climate, economic and social opportunities and challenges, diversity of citizenry, and community spirit. These local characteristics must be taken into account when decisions are made about electric rates and services, generating fuels, clean air and water, and other issues that affect the entire community.

 


Public power stimulated economic prosperity, translating into better living conditions for families and the entire community. Public power has the ability as a local government arm to provide streamlined, "one-stop" customer services that encourage existing business customers to maintain and expand their operations and attract new businesses. Strong stable employers mean strong, stable jobs for local citizens. Low electric rates also hold down consumer costs, allowing public power customers to spend more money on other goods and services. This further stimulates the local economy.

 

Public power means not-for-profit rates

While public power utilities are "not-for-profit" organizations, that does not mean that they are not entrepreneurial, or that they do not make major economic contributions to their communities. Public power systems on average return to state and local governments in-lieu-of-tax payments and other contributions that are equivalent to state and local taxes paid by private power companies. In addition, unlike their private power company counterparts, public power systems serve only one constituency: their customers. They do not divide their loyalties between service customers and trying to make higher profits for stockholders.