Keeping The Dollars At Home

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

From Main Street to Your Street …

That was the slogan adopted by the Grand River Dam Authority in a recent series of ads promoting the benefits of public power in Oklahoma communities. However, it’s more than a slogan; it’s also a process.

A high voltage GRDA electric transmission line runs across the hills and valleys of Oklahoma to supply low-cost, reliable electricity to “public power” systems in the state. Along with electricity, these customer-owned systems realize other public power benefits as well.

A “public power community” is one that owns and operates its own electric distribution system and allows citizens – the customers of that system – to exercise local control. In other words, through local utility boards and city councils, the citizens make the decisions to insure local resources always match local needs. When that happens, the benefits of public power are felt all across town … from Main Street to your street.

Those benefits start with lower rates. According to the United States Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, residential electric rates are 14 percent lower in a not-for-profit public power community than in a community served by a for-profit investor-owned utility. 

However, the benefits just begin there. Because they are not-for-profit, public power systems keep most of their profit at home in the community, where it can do the most good. In Oklahoma, many public power systems buy wholesale electricity from GRDA. These systems then resell that power, at retail rates, to residents. Part of the revenues generated from those sales is used to purchase more electricity from GRDA but the rest is put to work in the community – used to fund other city services. According to the American Public Power Association’s “Payments and Contributions of Public Power Distribution Utilities to State and Local Governments” public power utilities – like the GRDA municipal customers in Oklahoma – pay about five percent of their electric operating revenues back to the city government.  In other words, the profit made from electricity sales on your street, helps to keep the lights on along Main Street while also helping provide and maintain local parks and streets, and police and fire protection all across town. 

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable; electricity serves nearly 500,000 homes in Oklahoma and stretches into 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.