More than 120 communities throughout Missouri provide some type of non-profit public utility services — not only electric and gas, but also locally-run water and wastewater utilities, all providing services essential for the life of their communities. Dedicated employees of these hometown utilities work 24-7 to keep their neighbors’ lights on, homes heated, and water flowing. They deserve our recognition and thanks.
On Oct. 3-9, 85 communities across Missouri are observing Public Power Week, celebrating the benefits of their hometown electric utilities. These community-owned hometown utilities serve a sixth of all Missourians, providing homes, businesses, and local government agencies with reliable, efficient, and cost-effective electricity.
The same week, 40 Missouri communities observe Public Natural Gas Week, recognizing the value of their hometown natural gas utilities that serve almost a tenth of Missourians with safe, reliable, and efficient natural gas supply at not-for-profit costs.
In Missouri, hometown utilities have led the way as innovators in the utility field. They were among the first to develop and provide many of our renewable energy resources, such as electricity generated from wind, solar, and landfill gas, demonstrating a commitment to developing diverse sources of clean, reliable, and affordable energy. Some hometown utilities are also taking on added stewardship for information infrastructure, to develop rural and community broadband services for their communities and areas, expanding economic development opportunities in their regions.
These hometown utilities are commonly known as “public power” and “public natural gas” utilities, meaning they are publicly owned and community-run, much like a public library or a public school. They are valuable and essential community assets, governed by their customers — neighbors, friends, and family who influence how they operate, by voicing opinions, attending meetings, and voting in local elections.
Nationally, there are about 2,000 public power utilities and 1,000 public natural gas systems that together serve more than 50 million Americans. These hometown utilities contribute substantially to the well-being of local citizens through customer service, reliability, economic development, environmental stewardship, energy efficiency, and safety awareness.
We hope you’ll celebrate with us during Public Power Week and Public Natural Gas Week, from Oct. 3-9. We are a part of an American tradition that places high value on local control over community services, allowing local residents to make important decisions about their utility services.
John Twitty is the president and CEO of the Missouri Public Utility Alliance, an association representing more than 120 hometown utilities across the state.