Public Power Consumers Shouldn’t Pay More for the Same Infrastructure

The Biden Administration and Congress are pushing investments to modernize the nation’s infrastructure including an accelerated transition to a cleaner energy future. Public Power systems that serve communities across the nation are being called upon to modernize their grids, integrate electric vehicles and transition their electric supply to cleaner options in support of reducing carbon emissions.

The 27 members of the Large Public Power Council operate in 21 states and Puerto Rico and collectively serve 30 million electric consumers nationwide. These larger public power utilities invest in and operate significant infrastructure including generation, transmission, and distribution facilities that serve some of the nation’s largest communities. They are also actively engaged in balancing reliability, affordability, and environmental stewardship to the direct benefit of the consumer in those communities.

Our member systems fully support the move to a cleaner, modernized and more resilient grid. These have been the focus of our efforts over the last several decades as the electric utility has made progress on all fronts. We know what needs to be built and how to build it, but we need access to all available financing tools on a comparable basis to private developers and investor-owned utilities. We are not-for-profit, consumer-owned organizations so incentives delivered through the tax code are not available to our members directly and the historic benefits of tax-exempt bond financing are not what they once were given the compression of all interest rates.

Private developers have direct access to incentives delivered through the tax code along with mechanisms that combine to reduce their borrowing costs. We are asking that we have access to direct pay mechanisms that are comparable to allow our consumers and communities to pursue these important national priorities on an equal footing.

As our sector does its part to build a brighter future, consumers and communities served by public power should not be disadvantaged and pay a higher cost to make the transition. We stand ready to invest along with all electricity providers. We just need access to truly comparable financing tools to ensure that we’re not left behind or face higher costs to accomplish the same goals. Our 30 million electric consumers in some of the nation’s largest cities across 21 states need to have equal standing as infrastructure financing alternatives are considered and debated.

– John Di Stasio, President, The Large Public Power Council (LPPC)

John Di Stasio became president of the Large Public Power Council (LPPC) in August 2014. He was formerly the General Manager and CEO of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) from June of 2008 through April of 2014.