Marc S. Gerken, Chair, American Public Power Association Board of Directors, President/CEO, American Municipal Power (Dec/Jan 10)
For public power communities, no matter how big or small, the past year has required local officials to take an even closer look at the issue of job creation and job retention. What they saw often proved to be something other than what they had hoped to see. But that close look also revealed some of the strengths that municipal electric utilities have always possessed, strengths that make communities with public power systems an even better choice for economic development.
A key benefit for public power customers - and one that has a direct impact on other benefits - is local control of the utility. When decisions must be made, or actions taken to meet the needs of existing or potential business, they are made at the local level. The business owner and the utility policymaker may, literally, be next-door neighbors. They share the same concerns about competitive rates and reliable service because they are served by the same electric system. Utility crews are only a few miles or a few blocks away - not several hours away, or more - if there is a service problem.
Although municipal electric communities retain long-held principles of accountability, service, and value, they are also among the pioneers of new technology. Municipal electric utilities have been among the early adopters of advances such as automated meter reading and LED street lighting. Our national trade association, the American Public Power Association (APPA), has long advocated programs - such as its Demonstration of Energy-Efficient Developments (DEED) - that will provide practical applications on issues that improve efficiencies and lower the cost of power to public power customers.
Combining traditional principles and a local approach with forward thinking and cutting-edge technology, municipal electric systems continually strive to provide reliable, cost-effective energy to all their customers. That, along with service that has been rated among the highest in the industry, is the promise that public power makes to its communities' current and future customers.