Public Power Facts

What is Public Power?

Public power utilities, also known as municipal utilities, are organizations that provide electricity, water, or other essential utility services to the public. These utilities are owned and operated by local governments or public entities, such as cities, counties, or special districts, rather than by private, for-profit companies.

Public power utilities serve specific geographic areas and are responsible for generating, transmitting, and distributing electricity to residential, commercial, and industrial customers within their service territories. They may also be involved in managing water treatment and distribution systems or other public services, depending on the utility’s mandate and jurisdiction.


Map of MEUW Counties

The advantages of public power!

  1. Public Ownership: Public power utilities are owned by the local community or government entity, which allows for greater control over rates, service quality, and decision-making processes.
  2. Local Control: Public power utilities are governed by local boards or commissions, often composed of elected or appointed officials, who are accountable to the community they serve. This local control enables responsiveness to community needs and priorities.
  3. Not-for-profit Structure: Public power utilities are typically non-profit entities, meaning that any revenue generated is reinvested back into the utility to improve infrastructure, maintain service reliability, or lower rates.
  4. Community Focus: Public power utilities prioritize serving the best interests of their communities. They aim to provide reliable and affordable utility services while promoting energy efficiency, sustainability, and local economic development.

Public power utilities can vary in size and scope, ranging from small rural cooperatives to larger urban utilities. In Wisconsin, the largest municipal electric utility is Manitowoc, with ~17,800 customers. The smallest is Viola, with ~300 customers.