The public power option should be a community decision

Utility Dive

Dozens of communities contact the American Public Power Association every year, seeking information on public power and the process of forming a public power utility. Currently, many cities are exploring public power as an avenue to achieve greater access to renewable energy and address environmental concerns. Whether they prioritize low rates, high reliability, or community choice, people care more than ever about how their homes are powered.

In Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1932 campaign address in Portland, Ore., he advocated for public utilities, stating, “Where a community — a city or county or a district is not satisfied with the service rendered or the rates charged by the private utility, it has the undeniable basic right, as one of its functions of government, one of its functions of home rule, to set up, after a fair referendum to its voters has been had, its own governmentally owned and operated service.”

He described public power as a “yardstick” that can be measured against for-profit electric providers to ensure the best possible service and rates. The yardstick can also be used as a motivator to correct an off-course utility.

In 2022, public power’s importance in American communities is paramount, with nearly 50 million people in more than 2,000 communities (in 49 states and five U.S. territories) served by public power utilities.

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