North Carolina ranks among nation’s top states for public power
RALEIGH — North Carolina is one of the nation’s leaders in public power, operating the ninth largest number of public power utilities and serving the ninth largest number of customers, according to data from the American Public Power Association.
North Carolina currently has 72 public power providers, including four of the nation’s 100 largest public power utilities. Fayetteville Public Works Commission ranks as the 37th largest public power utility with more than 81,000 customers. Greenville Utilities Commission (#45), the City of High Point (#79), and Wilson Energy (#97) are also among the nation’s largest public power utilities.
ElectriCities, a nonprofit organization that provides support and services to public power communities in North Carolina and beyond, is celebrating Public Power Week October 4-10. Unlike investor-owned utilities or electric cooperatives, public power utilities are community-owned, not-for-profit systems that are notable for providing local control, exceptional reliability, and outstanding customer service.
“Public power is all about serving our communities,” said ElectriCities CEO Roy Jones. “It is local employees serving local customers and working to meet the needs of the local community. It’s a powerful formula that continues to deliver tremendous value to cities and towns across the nation.”
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a proclamation to celebrate Public Power Week, noting that “North Carolina’s public power utilities are valuable community assets that contribute to the well-being of the community and provide economic development opportunities.”
The Power of Community
The value of public power begins with the power of community. This year’s theme — The Power of Community, Neighbors Serving Neighbors — reflects public power’s commitment to meet the needs of the local communities it serves.
“During challenging times like this, it is important for us to take time to celebrate the power of our community and the positive impact of neighbors working together to assist and serve one another,” Jones said. “The value of public power comes from having local employees who know the community well and are committed to providing exceptional service to their neighbors. Our hard-working utility employees bring public power to life.”
Reliability: A Public Power Tradition
Reports show that public power providers consistently outperform investor-owned utilities in terms of reliability. Public power communities experience fewer power outages and get power restored more quickly than other utilities.
Reliability is a major reason why, according to a 2020 statewide survey of more than 3,000 customers, over 81 percent of North Carolina’s public power customers are satisfied with their public power utility.
North Carolina has 27 communities — more than any other state — recognized by the American Public Power Association (APPA) as Reliable Public Power Providers. This special “RP3” designation certifies that utilities provide outstanding reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement.
Public power has a rich tradition in North Carolina that dates to 1889, when the City of Statesville first began using electric lights instead of gas streetlamps to illuminate the tiny downtown area.
Quick Facts about Public Power
- North Carolina has 72 public power communities that collectively serve more than 1.2 million people.
- One in seven electricity customers in the U.S. are served by public power.
- North Carolina is home to four of the nation’s 100 largest public power utilities.
- Statesville was North Carolina’s first public power community. It began operating electric lights in 1889.
- Nationally, there are more than 2,000 public power providers that collectively serve 49 million people.
- Ten percent of the electricity generated in the United States comes from public power facilities.
About ElectriCities of North Carolina
ElectriCities is the energy behind public power. For more than 50 years, ElectriCities has helped North Carolina public power communities provide safe, reliable, and affordable power to their customers. ElectriCities serves more than 1.2 million people in North Carolina public power communities, including 32 members of the N.C. Eastern Municipal Agency (NCEMPA) and 19 members of N.C. Municipal Power Agency #1 (NCMPA1). Learn more at www.electricities.com.
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Senior Public Affairs Specialist, ElectriCities
About ElectriCities of North Carolina
ElectriCities of North Carolina, Inc., is the membership organization that provides power supply and related critical services to over 90 community-owned electric systems in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia—collectively known as public power. ElectriCities manages the power supply for two power agencies in North Carolina and provides technical services to assist members in operating their electric distribution systems. ElectriCities also helps these locally owned and operated public power providers thrive today and in the future by delivering innovative services, including legislative, technical, communications, and economic development expertise.
Visit www.electricities.com to learn more about the benefits of public power and how ElectriCities helps communities keep the lights on through access to safe, reliable, and affordable energy.
VP, Communications, ElectriCities