Eighty-one cities and villages in Wisconsin operate a municipal electric utility. It's the best choice for the community, its citizens and businesses. Below are a few of the reasons why.
Public power means homes and businesses run on electricity provided by a locally owned utility. These municipal utilities are not-for-profit, community-based institutions working to meet local needs.
Because local public power utilities are owned and operated by the communities they serve, there are no stockholders to please or profits to make. The rates and services of a municipal utility are governed by the municipality itself, either through the city council or village board, or an appointed or elected utility commission. The utility is governed by residents of the community who are also customers of the utility and who are thoroughly familiar with its operations and services. That means the community has more control, so all the benefits produced by public power - including affordable energy costs, better service, and a focus on local goals - stay in the community. Local needs are considered when decisions are made about rates and services, power generation and green alternatives. And that way, public power revenues can be reinvested in community programs and projects that are for the common good. In the end, public power does exactly what its name suggests; it puts power in the hands of the public.
Public power utilities' top priority is enhancing community value. By existing in the community in which they serve, municipal utilities create jobs and support the local economy. In 2013, MEUW members' payments in lieu of taxes to their municipality totaled more than $21.8 million. These payments are then injected back into the city or village. And, because all decisions are made locally, a municipal utility is uniquely able to respond to the community's needs, build on the community's strengths, and reflect the community's values. They work to develop economic incentives and electric service infrastructure to attract and retain employers delivering high-value products and services and support improvements in local facilities, which make it desirable to live and work in the community. As technologies advance and economic conditions alter, public power focuses on delivering an essential service to meet the changing needs of the community.
Reliability is job number one; municipal utilities work tirelessly to keep power on and restore it quickly when outages occur. In an age of advanced grid technologies and cyber threats, the challenge is greater than ever. When outages happen, public power utilities have a strong reliability record - through continued training and ongoing preventative care, municipal utilities are prepared to act quickly and safely restore power to serve their community. Lineworkers are dedicated and passionate about the communities they serve because it's where they live and work locally. When outages occur in the middle of the night, they don't have far to go to get to work or to the scene of the problem.
Public power's focus on returning value to the local economy has resulted in affordable electric rates. On a national average, public power rates are lower than industry competitors, saving money for local citizens and businesses. Lower rates mean citizens have more available to spend on other goods and services, together with the dollars our customers save through conservation and energy efficiency programs, which boosts the local economy. Because public power revenues are reinvested into maintaining and upgrading the system's power plants, substations, transmission and distribution lines, and not shareholders, municipal utilities are able to safely generate and deliver low-cost, reliable electricity. Keeping energy costs affordable, serves every community's long-term needs; and that's what public power is all about.
A municipal utility is owned by the city or village it serves. It exists to serve its members, not to make a profit. Since there are no stockholders, and thus no profit motive, municipal utilities can focus exclusively on keeping electric rates low and customer service high. Municipal utilities provide friendly walk-in service to customers; when a customer calls their utility, they are connected to a local, member of the community and can be assured that the problem will be addressed. The board members and leaders who live in the communities they serve, carefully consider the implications of the decisions they make. So when municipal utilities consider making an investment or changing a procedure, community leaders want to know how it will affect the price of electricity and the quality of service. This is how public power communities benefit from local control of their electric utilities - helping to contribute to higher customer satisfaction and a better overall customer experience.