What is public power

What is Public Power

Public power utilities are operated by local governments to provide communities with reliable, responsive, not-for-profit electric service.

Public power utilities are directly accountable to the people they serve through local elected or appointed officials. Municipal systems have a diversified power mix, purchasing power on the wholesale market, as well as generating electricity from coal, natural gas, landfill gas, diesel, hydropower, solar and other renewable and distributed resources.

Municipal electric systems are held to public accountability standards. Public records, open meetings, competitive bidding, public budget hearings and prevailing wage laws are just a few of the public accountability standards unique to most municipal electric suppliers.

Other types of electric utilities include investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and rural electric cooperatives (co-ops). Most retail electric customers in the nation (66 percent) are served by IOUs, which are private stockholder-owned, for-profit companies. About 13 percent of electric customers are served by electric co-ops.

Public Power Benefits

Public power customers have a special relationship with their utility. They are consumers as well as owners, with a voice in utility policies. Local control can greatly improve a community’s quality of life by providing:

  • Providing adequate and safe electricity
  • Delivering service shaped to meet local needs
  • Creating advantages for economic development
  • Making a special commitment to wise energy use
  • Striving to offer affordable rates

Public power has many distinct characteristics that benefit consumers and contribute to community progress. One of the most important benefits is local control. Every resident of a public power community is a utility owner, with the ability to voice their views on policies that affect rates and services. Among public power’s many other benefits are:

  • Efficient service: Providing services consistent with sound business practices.
  • Community focus: Being an integral part of the local community with a focus on residential, commercial and industrial customers.
  • Economic development: Helping businesses and industries with local infrastructure development.
  • Transparency: Public records and open meetings are two of the unique accountability standards of a municipal electric system.