All electricity is local, ultimately. All comes back to the customer and the hook-up to a home, school, or business. This week, October 7 to 13, is a time when local electric organizations are recognized in Public Power Week. The Carolinas have strong base of public power, organizations electric utility organizations that are community-owned and not-for-profit.
More than 49 million Americans get the electricity from public power entities. According to the American Public Power Association (APPA), roughly 93,000 people are employed in local jobs where the electricity is delivered. That is direct economic support, estimated at $2 billion annually directly back into the community. Most public power organizations have smaller bases of customers in utility terms, fewer than 4,000 customers. In the U.S., 1 in 7 electricity customers are public power customers.
Public power has a large presence in the U.S. Often the organizations are labeled by the city they serve. More than 70 communities in North Carolina serve more than 500,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers (source). Here is a list of North Carolina public power organizations. Among them, Albemarle, Apex, Benson, Cherryville, Eden, Farmville, Gastonia, High Point, Laurinburg, Lumberton, Morganton, Pineville, Red Springs, Shelby, Wake Forest.
Here is a list of South Carolina public power organizations. Among the cities, Abbeville, Bamberg, Bennettsville, Camden, Due West, Easley, Greenwood, Laurens, Newberry, Rock Hill, Seneca, Union, Westminster.
Importantly, public power groups are managed through local citizens holding jobs in the power company, and throguh board positions. These board members are the same people who may manage the grocery store, a CPA practice, teach in a school, manage a household, or teach at a community college. People who you can tap on the shoulder at the diner or grocery if you have a question.
While public power organizations have a modest size, collectively they pack a punch in current service delivery, and also in the way they look ahead. In the current national strategic plan for the APPA, most notably recently for the Carolinas recently, is the commitment to an “all-hazards” approach to disaster preparation and response. That helps our two-state power associations help in emergencies like we just had with Hurricane Florence.
In other areas of planning, the APPA is focusing on research and development and also efforts in workforce development. The electric industry, like most industries, serve their constituents well as they stay on top of technology and have an ample and well-trained workforce.
The national organization behind these local groups, APPA, was created in September 1940 to represent the common interests of these utilities. It represents, “Agencies (state and regional consortia of public power utilities), rural electric cooperatives, Canadian municipal/provincial utilities, public power systems within U.S. territories and possessions, and state, regional, and local associations in the United States and Canada.”
Energy Consumers of the Carolinas salutes the people involved in the dozens of Carolinas-based public power entities as they bring reliable service to our fellow citizens.