Utilities Commission : What is Public Power?
There are 82 municipal electric utilities in Wisconsin. Like Jefferson, these communities believe that public power is the best choice for their communities and citizens. Here are a few of the reasons why:
- Community Ownership
A community-owned utility is owned by the city or municipality it serves. It exists to provide a public service to the residents and businesses of the community. Service--rather than profit--is the utility's mission.
- Local Control and Regulation
The rates and services of a municipal utility are governed by the city itself, either through the city council or an appointed or elected utility commission. Thus, the utility is governed by residents of the community who are also customers of the utility and are thoroughly familiar with its operations and services.
If a customer has a complaint, he or she does not have to call long distance and talk to a series of phone operators or recordings. The customer can discuss the problem locally, with another member of the community, and be assured that the problem will be addressed. Jefferson Utilities knows their customers and the streets that we serve.
- Quick On-Site Response
We work hard to make sure you don't experience a power outage. Some things like storms and accidents are out of our control. If an outage occurs, we're always just a few minutes away. We'll get to the problem and fix it as quickly as we possibly can.
- Efficient Operation
Since one of our goals is to be the low-cost provider of electric service, our current and future advantage lies in our efficient operation. Our expenses are substantially lower than those of a investor-owned utility.
- 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 stay in the community--creating jobs and supporting the local economy.
- Municipal 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.
- Municipal utilities make significant payments-in-lieu-of-taxes to the city. The utility makes payments to the city's general fund every year in lieu of taxes. In 2000 that contribution was over $300,000. Jefferson Utilities has contributed more than $1.5 million over the past 5 years to keep our taxes lower.
- On average, municipal utility rates are competitive and most often lower than those of investor-owned utilities. Competitive rates mean more dollars are available to spend on other goods and services, which boosts the local economy.
- Community Values
Decisions about the operation of a municipal utility are made locally--by members of the community - at open, public meetings. 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 and advance the community's values.