CEO’s Report: Celebrating Public Power

Public Power Week is once again upon us.

Community ownership, safe and reliable service, and local control are certainly worth celebrating.

But, do your customers know all the valuable benefits of living in a public power community? Do they even know they are served by a public power utility?

In many cases, the answers to both those questions is probably “no.”

Public Power Week is a chance to change that.

Heartland will be doing our best to promote public power in your community during Public Power Week. As we have over the past several years, we will submit articles to each of your local papers touting the value of public power. We will also run advertisements in those same papers.

The ads this year will be promoting a coloring contest for kids ages 4 to 9. The coloring page will be available on our Facebook page and at hcpd.com/contest. We will run the contest through the end of October and completed pages can either be mailed to our office or uploaded on the contest page of our website.

We are always looking for new ways to engage people in the value of their local utility. What better way than to get kids involved? It’s also a chance to educate them on different types of utilities and the best part, they can win fun prizes.

My favorite part of Public Power Week is the Distinguished Service Award. All Heartland customers are invited to nominate someone from their utility who goes above and beyond the call of duty. Public power is known for dedicated, hard-working employees and this award is our chance to honor those who exceed expectations.

Those of us who work in public power know all the reasons our communities benefit from owning and operating their own electric utility. But does that knowledge extend into the community?

Public Power Week is a chance for us to make those benefits known.

The fact is, the more knowledge your customers have about your utility, the more likely they are to be supportive. When they’re left in the dark (pun intended), they are left with more questions than answers, which leads to frustration.

Having a clear understanding of how the utility works and how decisions are made and having a voice in the process gives people a sense of ownership, which can foster a sense of pride in not only their utility, but their community.

Your customers didn’t likely choose to live in your community simply because it’s a public power community. The reality is most probably don’t even know what type of utility serves them. But the fact is, electricity is an essential service and we want to show customers we take our job seriously of providing that service in a reliable, cost-effective manner.

One of the greatest benefits of living in a public power community is the ability to attend open meetings and have a voice in the decisions being made about the utility. Officials making those decisions are publicly elected by the people they serve.  Those same officials live in the community and have a vested interest in the decisions being made.

Public power week is right around the corner, but there’s still time to celebrate. Host an open house at your utility and invite customers to come in and visit. It doesn’t have to be formal. Conversation over cookies and coffee could go a long way.

If you’re on social media, be sure to promote public power next week. Heartland will be actively posting so it can be as simple as sharing and re-tweeting our content.

As an industry, we all need to do a better job touting our accomplishments and what they mean to our customers. Frankly, we are too humble. Let’s kick off our efforts to better educate our customers during Public Power Week.

If you want more resources to promote the value of public power, the American Public Power Association has a variety of tools to help spread the message.