On the Local Energy Rules Podcast, we share powerful stories of successful local renewable energy and expose the policy and practical barriers to its expansion.

A Special Series of the Local Energy Rules Podcast

This special series, called The Promise and Peril of Publicly-Owned Power, responds to an upswell of interest in city-owned utilities. In addition to clean energy, advocates cite local control, lowering costs, and reinvestment in the local economy among the major reasons they want public, instead of private, power companies.

In this six-part series, we explore the “public power” issue from several angles:

  1. Why communities are pursuing public power
  2. What specific benefits are found in the public power model
  3. Why it’s hard to win a municipalization campaign
  4. How communities can make gains even in failure
  5. Examples of how public power can fall short
  6. Alternatives to a public power takeover that still advance clean energy and environmental justice aims

Listen to all six parts of the series and explore their corresponding show pages below.

Part 1: Why Take Over? Community leaders in six different municipalization campaigns explain why a city might attempt to take over its electric utility.
Part 2: Community Benefits Ursula Schryver describes the benefits of consumer-owned utility service and Randy Knight reports on the progress that municipalization brought to Winter Park, Fla.
Part 3: Ingredients for Success John Coyle describes how to form a publicly-owned utility and lists the four ingredients for baking up a public takeover.
Part 4: Game Over? John Farrell describes three municipalization attempts: Boulder, Minneapolis, and Decorah. Each city failed to form its own utility, but found silver linings in trying.
Part 5: The Perils Customers of four publicly-owned utilities explain some limitations of the public power model and how they are organizing to increase accountability.
Part 6: Alternatives John Farrell explains five alternatives to a public power takeover that can still advance a community’s clean energy and environmental justice aims.


The Promise and Peril of Publicly-Owned Power features clips from many episodes on public power in the Local Energy Rules archive.