Power for Progress: Celebrating National Public Power Week
Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority
Celebrating National Public Power Week 2022, October 2 - 8
Each year, during the first full week in October, the Grand River Dam Authority joins with the nation’s 2,000 other publicly owned electric utilities to celebrate National Public Power Week. It is a time to highlight the many benefits of public power while also celebrating its productive history and exciting future across the country.
Today, public power is found in 49 states and serves 49 million Americans, including the citizens of GRDA’s 15 public power partner communities right here in Oklahoma.
Of course, one of the main benefits of public power is that the systems are custom fit to meet community needs so local resources can meet local needs. Across the country, public power systems come in many shapes and sizes. Some publicly owned electric utility systems are large (like Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Orlando) while other systems are smaller, like many systems serving hometowns across Oklahoma.
Public power also has a long history of service. According to publicpower.org, “locally owned public power utilities first appeared more than 100 years ago when communities created electric utilities to provide light and power to their citizens. Throughout the end of the 1800’s and the first decades of the 1900’s, the number of utilities grew rapidly. And while many utilities were sold to larger interests during the 20th century, thousands of communities chose to preserve this valuable asset and the local control it provides.”
In all these municipal systems, both large and small, the process works the same: communities own and operate their own electric distribution system and revenues from the sale of electricity help to fund other city services. Parks, streets, police, and fire protection can all benefit financially from the locally owned electric utility. In fact, GRDA’s 15 Oklahoma public power customer communities combine to contribute roughly $35 million to city coffers annually.
In other words, public power is not just about not-for-profit, reliable electricity service, it is also about quality of life. And it is all done without utilizing tax dollars.
GRDA is Oklahoma’s largest public power electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees, and efficiency.