Public power is a collection of more than 2,000 community-owned electric utilities, including Traverse City Light & Power, that serve over 40 million people or about 15 percent of the nation's electricity consumers. Public power utilities are operated by local governments to provide communities with reliable, responsive, not-for-profit electric service. Public power utilities are directly accountable to the people they serve through local elected or appointed officials.
Some of the nation's largest cities operate publicly owned electric utilities, but many public power communities are small with their utilities serving 3,000 or fewer customers. TCL&P serves over 11,000 customers. Public power has many distinct characteristics that benefit consumers and communities. One of the most important benefits is local control. Every citizen is a utility owner, with a direct say in policies that affect rates and service. Other hometown advantages -- lower rates, not-for-profit operations, public accountability, and full attention to customer service -- have become even more important as the electric utility industry restructures.
Public power is an American tradition that works. The first municipal utility was established in 1882, and more than 350 public power utilities have celebrated their centennials. In 2012, TCL&P will be celebrating 100 years of providing safe and reliable energy at low rates in the region.