It's a fact - publicly owned power providers are often small, because, although there are some significant exceptions, the communities that own them are often small. But don't think small means backward, because public power communities are often the source of service innovations. These utilities eagerly share their best practices with one another in a number of ways, including participation in such organizations as the Northeast Public Power Association (NEPPA).
NEPPA is a regional network for sharing information and taking collective action. It provides training programs for members' employees, and creates publications and information resources. One such resource is a best practices database that helps members share the details of their innovations with one another.
What kinds of innovations? Consider the recent upgrade to the Massachusetts system run by Concord Light. It's becoming that state's first utility to adopt smart grid technology. The community's voters approved a $4.5 million investment to install 110 miles of fiber-optic cable linking 1,400 electricity transformers. The cable will open up two-way communication, enabling controllers to make remote adjustments and allowing expansion of the voluntary load management system.