The Municipal Advantage
Public Power is the term used to describe not-for-profit publicly owned electric utilities that are operated by a municipality, county, state, or other public body such as a public utility district.
Municipal electric utilities are part of local government, like schools, parks, police, and fire protection. They are governed locally and operated to provide an essential service at reasonable rates.
Public power systems are directly accountable to the people they serve. Many are governed by the city's elected officials, such as a city council. Others are governed by a utility board whose members may be elected or appointed by the council or mayor.
Private power companies are often called public utilities because they are businesses affected with a public interest in providing electricity. But unlike public power systems, they sell electricity to make a profit. Profits go to stockholders all over the country.
Public power systems are not run to make a profit. All the benefits from public power stay at home in the form of lower rates, improved services, and other community contributions.
Public ownership of a utility is like owning your own home. Private ownership is like renting it.
What are public power benefits?
Public power has many distinct characteristics that benefit consumers and contribute to community progress.
- Lower rates. On a national average, public power rates are significantly lower than private company rates.
- Efficient Service. Driven by service at the lowest possible cost consistent with community aims and sound business practices, public power systems are directly responsible to their consumer-owners -- not private stockholders.
- Local Control. Every citizen is a utility owner, with a direct say in policies that affect rates and service.
- Commitment to conservation, safety and the environment. As arms of local government, public power systems work to meet long-term community goals.
- Economic development. Not-for-profit electricity attracts and maintains significant business and industrial development.
- Competition. Public power provides competition in what is essentially a monopolistic industry. Competition keeps rates lower and service better for consumers everywhere.
For more information about Public Power you may wish to visit the
American Public Power Association (APPA) website or view this fact sheet.