Letters (Sept 28, 2016)

Celebrate locally owned utility

This week more than 2,000 public power utilities will be celebrating Public Power Week. The notion of drawing attention to Hills­boro’s electric utility is to point out the advantages of having locally owned and managed electric service.

Hillsboro buys electricity through the Kansas Power Pool. KPP is an association of 20-plus cities that collectively purchase power from a number of different generation sources. The collective purchasing agreements allow members to get much better market prices than if we were to purchase for our communities individually.

The Hillsboro electric utility is locally owned, which means we get to make decisions about what happens with the system. We are a not-for-profit utility, so our loyalty is to our customers not a group of stockholders scattered across the country.

This does not mean we can’t make a profit—we do. We run the utility as any other business, but we use that profit to reinvest in poles, lines transformers and substations to provide the reliability level any customer would expect instead of paying stockholder dividends.

The Hillsboro City Council governs the utility operations. Knowing our community and its needs, council members are able to make decisions that make sense to Hillsboro and not shareholder special interests.

The electric world is changing and we will be changing, too. We are already moving into the world of green energy. The KPP power portfolio has wind, hydro and eventually solar.

Locally, we are changing street lighting to LED fixtures that use one-third as much energy as older street lighting. The Hillsboro Heights subdivision is now 100 percent LED lighting.

As material prices come down, we will be adding more LEDs to the street-light mix. We also have one LED street lamp in front of city hall. It is a different color than the other lights in downtown. We would like your feedback.

So, join with us in celebrating Public Power Week Oct. 2-8. We thank you for your support of the Hills­boro electric utility—it’s an American tradition that works.

Larry Paine

City administrator

Hillsboro

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