By Mark Fritsch, General Manager
Why Public Power?
Owatonna Public Utilities (OPU), along with more than 2,000 other community-owned, not-for-profit electric utilities are celebrating Public Power week, October 2-8th. Collectively we provide electricity to 48 million Americans. We put the people of our communities first with locally owned power to our citizens. Our service is reliable and safe and we take pride in serving our friends and neighbors. OPU is proud to have served the citizens of Owatonna for over 90 Years.
OPU is also proud to contribute to the community by providing jobs, purchasing locally, and providing free utilities to the City in lieu of taxes. Our employees are engaged in the community in several different ways from serving on various community boards, to teaching Junior Achievement to our young people. When we repurposed our power plant, we used a local general contractor. Our not-for-profit rates hold down your costs, and are lower than those of neighboring utilities.
We can keep our rates reasonable because we don’t have to pay dividends to stockholders around the country or the world. Our returns go right back into the community and our focus remains on the reliability and safety of our customers and community.
When it comes to service, you know we’re just down the street. Our track record shows we are exceptional at keeping the power on and restoring it as soon as possible in the case of weather-related outages. This past summer proved that point with the multitude of storms we experienced. Our workers worked in unfavorable conditions and for long hours to restore power as quickly as possible.
In summary here are a few of the benefits that public ownership and control provide:
• Responsiveness to customer concerns – every citizen is an owner with a direct say in policies
• Emphasis on long-term community goals
• Quick response from crews located in the community
• Not-for-profit status – lower costs and no split allegiance between customers and stockholders
• Great portion of revenues stay in community
• Utility purchases from local establishments, including use of local financial institutions
• Local Employment
• Efficiency through integrated utility operations (electric, water, natural gas)
• Local management and operations bring added community leadership for innovation and development
• Recognized commitment to conservation, safety and the environment
• Local control over special programs such as energy conservation
• Local control that allows matching local resources to local needs
• No economic bias toward high cost, capital intensive techniques or technologies
• Primary mission of providing affordable, reliable service over maximizing profit