Public Power in Wisconsin The “municipal electric utility” business model

Manitowoc Public Utilities
Public Power in Wisconsin
The “municipal electric utility” business
Nilaksh Kothari, P.E., General Manager
Manitowoc Public Utilities, WI
Public Power Origins
Manitowoc Public Utilities
• In the late 1890’s and early
1900’s, investor-owned
utilities (for-profit) were
busy stringing wires and
lighting cities
• Rural Wisconsin (and
America) was not going to
produce the necessary
profits for energy
companies to succeed in
these areas
Public Power Origins
Local government leaders
recognized the tremendous
economic development benefits of
electricity and were not content to
“wait” until it was brought to them
Wisconsin’s first community-owned
electric utility was started in New
Richmond in 1890
– 20 more formed by 1900
– 28 more by 1910
– 17 more by 1920
Status of Public Power in Wisconsin
Manitowoc Public Utilities
Manitowoc Public Utilities
• There are 82 municipal electric
utilities in Wisconsin.
• Collectively:
– $717 million annual revenues.
– Distribute 11 percent of electricity
in Wisconsin.
– Serve 281,000 customers.
Demographics of Public Power in Wisconsin
Manitowoc Public Utilities
• Average public power community
has about 5,700 residents.
• Customer base is a mix of
residential, commercial and
industrial. A small minority serve
farms. Heavier industrial load in
• Several communities have
generation capability (base load,
peakers, back up, renewable).
Public Power Business Model
Manitowoc Public Utilities
• Public Power Utilities in
Wisconsin are owned by the
municipal corporation and
governed by either a
“commission” or a
• Retail services and rates
regulated by the Public
Service Commission of
• Wholesale transactions (i.e.,
power contracts) regulated
by the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission.
Municipal Joint Action Agencies
Manitowoc Public Utilities
• “Municipal Electric Companies” in WI (66.0825(4), Wis.
– “… a public corporation created by contract between two
or more municipalities …”
• Three in WI:
– WPPI Energy
– Great Lake Utilities (GLU)
– Western Wisconsin Municipal Power Group/Upper
Midwest Municipal Power Agency (UMPA)
• Becoming the norm nationally.
Public Power around the country
Manitowoc Public Utilities
• There are more than 2,000 public power
systems in the U.S. (American Public Power
• The largest community-owned electric systems
include communities such as Seattle, Los
Angeles, Sacramento, Austin, Orlando, Long
Island, Nashville and Memphis.
• The entire state of Nebraska is considered
“Public Power”.
Benefits of Public Power for its Wisconsin
Manitowoc Public Utilities
Local control, local decisions
Competitive electric rates (probably lower)
More reliable system
Local employment
Faster response time to outages
“Payment-in-lieu-of-tax” to the 82 Wisconsin
public power communities totaled more than
$19.2 million in 2011.
• Not for profit
Current Challenges for Public Power
Manitowoc Public Utilities
Slow down in sales growth
Planning forward with uncertainties
Environmental regulations
Workforce issues (succession
planning; public employee retention)
• Tight municipal budgets
• Cyber and physical security
Manitowoc Public Utilities
Manitowoc Public Utilities
Formed in 1914
18,000 Electric Meters
17,500 Water Meters
$70 Million in Annual Revenues
City of Manitowoc - Electric Service Territory
Largest municipal utility in WI
Ownership in American Transmission Company
Only base-load generating municipal utility in WI
Manitowoc Public Utilities
Key Projects
Manitowoc Public Utilities
Pilot Advanced Metering Infrastructure
Replace SCADA
Financial System replacement
New Phone System
Replacement of IT Infrastructure
• Investment in Infrastructure
Manitowoc Public Utilities
Thank you!