For the past 35 years, APPA and our members have celebrated Public Power Week during the first full week of October. This event is a time to highlight the unique attributes and benefits of the nearly 2,000 not-for-profit, community-owned electric utilities that together provide electricity to 49 million Americans.
During Public Power Week, publicly owned utilities find special ways to celebrate with their communities, including parades, barbecues, festivals, bucket truck rides, safety demonstrations, community service projects, and customer appreciation events. Public Power Week is focused on the customers and communities served by public power utilities across 49 states and all U.S. territories. Efforts also reach local, state, and regional government officials, as well as local media and community influencers.
Public Power is Looking Forward
This year, the theme of Public Power Week is “Building for the Future” to showcase how public power utilities are planning to offer reliable, affordable, sustainable, and customer-focused service for many years to come.
We’re encouraging members to work with their customers and community leaders to showcase how their utilities support the long-term goals and needs of their communities. The idea is to promote an understanding and appreciation of how these communities’ residents benefit from having a community-owned utility both now and in the future.
Our 2023 animated Public Power Week video illustrates this year’s theme:
The key messages of Public Power Week are that public power utilities:
- Provide excellent and responsive customer service in their communities.
- Care about local jobs and support the local economy.
- Are uniquely accountable to their communities due to local governance (typically utility boards or city councils) and not distant shareholders.
- Focus on the specific needs of their communities.
Spreading the Word
What makes the week special is how utilities from across the country join in the festivities. The diverse celebrations reflect the myriad and localized preferences of each public power community. This local focus underpins the history and inception of public power — local communities deciding to take their economic future into their own hands by providing electric service. Participating utilities have represented communities of varying sizes, from small towns such as Princeton, Minnesota, with fewer than 5,000 people, to small cities like Richmond, Indiana, and Lakeland, Florida, to large cities like Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles, California, to far-flung U.S. territories like Guam.
Many of our members avail themselves of the resources and templates APPA provides to co-brand, spread the word, and help celebrate in their communities. Visit our Public Power Week page to view these resources for 2023, including videos, press release templates, sample op-eds, sample proclamations for local governments, coloring sheets, social media graphics, and Public Power Week logos.
Even those who don’t hold community events have joined the conversation on social media, helping the Public Power Week message extend beyond the utility community. The U.S. Department of Energy, mayors, state lawmakers, governors, and the commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have all mentioned the week in social media posts.
Public Power All Year Long
It’s never too early or too late to celebrate public power in your community. Here are just a few ideas for campaigns throughout the year.
Anniversaries. Because public power has been around for a long time, many public power utilities are hitting major anniversaries, including the 75-year and 100-year marks. An anniversary is a perfect time to remind customers of where and why your utility began operating, who were the people behind the founding of your utility, your progress and growth, and how you continue to benefit your community.
Mutual Aid. Utilities helping other communities restore power when storms and other large-scale events cause outages is a cornerstone of public power. Utilities turn to the mutual aid network to give and get help to restore their systems following major events. Images and videos on social media resonate and engage with fans and followers by telling a dramatic and powerful story of communities helping communities.
Holidays and Seasons. In addition to 11 federal holidays, there are many other days we often mark, including Super Bowl Sunday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Day of Giving. There are the starts of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. In addition, there are more general seasons like spring break, summer vacation, and back to school. You get the idea. They all add up to a lot of opportunities to tell your story and relate it to what your customers are experiencing and — in the case of the holidays — celebrating.
Preparedness, Safety, and Efficiency. Other seasonal opportunities include preparedness for hurricane season, tips on the efficient use of seasonal appliances during summer and winter, and safety information about the use of equipment like space heaters and generators. Ready.gov and the Electrical Safety Foundation International provide excellent resources.
A quick way to join in on posting around these ideas is to subscribe to our monthly social media resources email, which includes safety tips, seasonal graphics, sample holiday posts, public power milestones, and other content to help you engage your customers year-round.