Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Business

Letters: Readers comment on business news

Customers put utilities at bottom of the barrel | Sept. 1

Consider not-for-profit model

Robert Trigaux's column was great but, if space had permitted, it would have been even better if he had included not-for-profit electric companies owned by municipalities.

There are 34 municipally owned electric companies in Florida located throughout the state, serving 25 percent of the population. The largest city is Jacksonville. Others are Orlando, Lakeland, Gainesville and Tallahassee.

According to the American Public Power Association, a majority of U.S. consumers believe municipal utilities offer lower rates, are more concerned about the environment, allow more control over utility operations, and have better service than private investor-owned power companies

A report compiled by the Florida Municipal Power Agency reveals that in 2012 customers of many of Florida's locally owned electric utilities enjoyed quicker repairs, shorter outages and fewer interruptions in service than customers of private utilities.

In addition to providing lower-cost service, many municipal electric companies return money to the cities, lowering other taxes. This is like paying dividends to the citizens of those cities who are the real shareholders. These "profits" are not used for bonuses, stock options and overly generous retirement plans for already overpaid executives. This money is not used for distribution to stockholders who probably don't have any interest in or live anywhere near the cities served. This money does not have to be wasted on highly paid lobbyists or on political contributions to influence politicians and the Public Service Commission to ensure that they can raise rates to increase profits.

The old saw, believed by some, is that government can't do anything as well as private enterprise. I am not aware of any city that wants to privatize its municipally owned electric company.

Tom Meyers, Tampa

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