Community Engagement

Sweet home public power

If you’ve been to one public power community, you’ve been to one public power community. From historic firsts to famous residents, there’s much that makes the cities and towns served by public power unique. Take a look at some fun facts we found.

Then share what makes YOUR community special on your social media — remember to use #PublicPower and tag us @PublicPowerOrg so we can find and share through the American Public Power Association channels.

Metropolis, Illinois

Superman statue in Metropolis, Illinois
Photo courtesy Greater Metropolis CVB
superman museum in metropolis Illinois
Photo courtesy Greater Metropolis CVB
Lois Lane statue in Metropolis Illinois
Photo courtesy Kevin Choate

Metropolis, Illinois, is the official home of Superman, with a Super Museum. The city hosts the annual Superman Celebration that draws thousands of visitors and holds a Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Superman. The greatest villain in town is the formidable weather. However, investments in distribution system improvements and training helped Metropolis fully restore electricity 48 hours after a tornado touched down one block from a 15-foot tall statue of Superman in front of the city’s courthouse. “It takes a team of dedicated Supermen and Superwomen,” said Metropolis City Counsel Rick Abell.

Aspen, Colorado

view of City of Aspen with mountain in background
Photo courtesy City of Aspen

Aspen, Colorado, is nestled at an elevation of 8,000 feet between mountains taller than 14,000 feet. The town was first electrified in the 1890s, when it was home to a booming silver industry. You know Aspen as one of the world’s top ski resorts (No. 5, according to Conde Nast Traveler in 2017), but did you also know that it is one of the first cities in the U.S. to be powered with 100 percent renewable energy? The town of fewer than 7,000 year-round residents handles an average daily population of more than 20,000 people. And while its iconic ski slopes might not be accessible to everyone, its electric rates are among the lowest in the state.

Jamestown, New York

Jamestown BPU volunteers at LucyFest
Photo courtesy Jamestown Board of Public Utilities

Jamestown, New York, is the hometown of Lucille Ball, a connection the city celebrates with an annual Lucy Fest each August. Volunteers from the Jamestown Board of Power and Light participate in the annual celebration, which brings more than 10,000 Lucy fans to town, including notable comedians such as Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld. The National Comedy Center, built on the site of a former substation, will open in spring 2018, making Jamestown a year-round destination for comedy.


Butler, Missouri

Courthouse in Butler, Missouri
Courthouse in Butler, Missouri

Butler, Missouri, has the distinction of being the oldest continuously operated public power system in the U.S. Lighting up its courthouse in 1881, Butler and its citizens were the first to have electric power in the state of Missouri — and anywhere west of the Mississippi River. The community refers to itself as “the electric city” and now serves the city’s more than 4,000 residents.

Springfield, Oregon

Simpsons mural in Springfield, OR
Photo courtesy Springfield Utilities Board
Ken Kesey mural in Springfield, OR
Photo courtesy Springfield Utilities Board

Springfield, Oregon, has developed and dedicated two murals honoring local connections over the past decade. The first is the Official Simpsons Mural, which celebrates the Oregon roots of Simpsons creator Matt Groening. The cartoonist and city officials worked together for years to develop the mural, and Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson, presided over the mural’s dedication in 2014. The second is a two-story mural that commemorates author Ken Kesey, a graduate of Springfield High School best known for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion. The mural was dedicated in 2015.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Fairy caves in Glenwood Springs, CO
Photo courtesy Glenwood Springs Historical Society
Hydro facility in Glenwood Springs, CO
Photo courtesy Glenwood Springs Historical Society
Bridge over hydro dam outside of Glenwood Springs, CO
Photo courtesy Glenwood Springs Historical Society

Glenwood Springs, Colorado, boasts the world’s largest hot springs pool and was a popular tourist destination in the late 1800s — part of its appeal was its novel use of electricity. Not only was it one of the first towns to bring electricity to its residents, it was also one of the first cities in the U.S. to be lit by hydroelectric power, starting in 1888. The hydro plant connected to a popular tourist attraction, the Fairy Caves, which became one of the first caverns in the world to be lighted by electricity. The Glenwood Springs Hydroelectric Plant building is one of the earliest hydroelectric plants still standing in Colorado, and it supplied some of the city’s electricity for more than 60 years, until 1961.

Greenville, North Carolina

People cleaning a cannon from QAR
Photo courtesy NC Department of Cultural and Natural Resources
restoration work on a cannon from QAR
Photo courtesy NC Department of Cultural and Natural Resources

Greenville, North Carolina, is the den of pirates — the wreckage of the notorious pirate Blackbeard’s ship, The Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered off a nearby coast in 1996. The artifacts recovered from the ship, including 13 cannons to date, are being restored at a conservation lab at East Carolina University in preparation for eventual display in the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

Alliance, Nebraska

Aerial view of Carhenge People watching eclipse in carhenge

Alliance, Nebraska, is home to Carhenge — a sculpture of 38 vintage automobiles placed to assume the same proportions as the famous Stonehenge in England. Carhenge’s novelty draws more than 60,000 visitors from all over the world to Alliance each year and was a popular spot for thousands of people to gather to experience the total solar eclipse in 2017.

Knoxville, Tennessee

Sunsphere in Knoxville, TN

Knoxville, Tennessee, hosted the 1982 World’s Fair, which was focused on the theme, “Energy Turns the World.” The fair drew more than 11 million visitors over six months and featured exhibits from more than 20 countries. The fair’s iconic Sunsphere remains a city landmark today.