Benefits of Public Power
What is Public Power?
There are 33 public power utilities in Florida, serving 1.5 million customer meters or more than 3 million Floridians, which is about 15% of the state’s population. Nationally, more than 2,000 cities and towns in the United States light up their homes, businesses, and communities with public power – electricity that comes from a community-owned, locally operated utility.
These communities believe that public power is the best choice for their communities and citizens. Here are a few of the why and the benefits public power brings to the community it serves:
A public power utility is owned and operated by the community it serves. It exists to provide a public service to the local residents and businesses. Public power utilities are directly accountable to its community owners.
The rates and services of a public power utility are governed by the city itself, either through the city commission or an appointed or elected utility board. This is the most responsive and accessible form of regulation. The utility is governed by residents of the community who are customers of the utility and are thoroughly familiar with its operations and services. If a customer has a complaint, he or she doesn’t have to take it to a faceless agency in Tallahassee. The customer can discuss the problem locally, with another member of the community, and be assured that the problem will be addressed.
A public power utility is operated in the public interest, for the benefit of the customers – the local community — not for the benefit of stockholders who live miles away. Public power utilities are dedicated to delivering the highest level of service and value to their customers. The focus is on the specific needs of the customers and community, including high reliability and low rates, as well as local priorities, which may include investing in new technologies, environmental concerns or supporting local businesses and development initiatives.
Keeping Dollars in the Community
Here are some of the ways a municipal utility helps to maintain a sound local economy:
- Local ownership means that customers’ energy dollars benefit the community — creating jobs and supporting the local economy.
- Revenues stay in the local community and are invested in system improvements and utility reserves or returned to the customer in the form of lower rates.
- Public power utilities serve as an engine for economic development. Local flexibility and quality service offered by municipal utilities are a major advantage for the community in attracting and retaining commercial and industrial customers.
- Public power utilities make payments-in-lieu-of-taxes to the city. These payments are reinvested into the local community by supporting local services like police and fire and community parks.
- On average, public power rates are competitive with those of other utilities. Competitive rates mean more dollars are available to reinvest in the utility and community, which boosts the local economy.
Decisions about the operation of a public power utility are made locally, by members of the community, at open, public meetings. Because all decisions are made locally, a public power utility is uniquely able to respond to the community’s needs, build on the community’s strengths, and reflect and advance the community’s values.