2010 marks the Lansing Board of Water & Light’s 125th year of serving Greater Lansing. I think it’s safe to say that very few existing businesses in our community reach that far back in time.
For historical perspective, consider these reference points. When this utility began in 1885, Ransom E. Olds had not built his first car. Marconi didn’t send the first radio broadcast for another 16 years. The BWL was serving Lansing nearly 20 years before the Wright Brothers made their historic flight in a powered airplane.
The photo below is the origin of what is today Michigan’s largest public utility. We began as the Lansing Water Board. The 150-foot standpipe in the photo was the source of clean drinking water for Lansing residents. Clean drinking water was critical, because typhoid was an ever-present threat.
The standpipe also served as a reservoir for Lansing’s fledgling fire department. Fire had destroyed the original state Capitol building (made almost entirely of wood), so it was determined that fire hydrants were needed at strategic locations throughout Lansing.
It was not until 1892 that our company began providing customers with electric service. A steam utility was later added, and much later – in the 1980s – a chilled water utility began providing air conditioning to office buildings in downtown Lansing.
The passage of time changes many things, but not everything. The BWL remains a hometown utility dedicated to providing excellent service at affordable rates. In fact, our electric rates are consistently lower than competing utilities; those utilities’ rates are between 25 percent and 30 percent higher than the BWL’s.
We are also national leaders for reliable service. In 2009, we again won a top reliability award from the American Public Power Association.
For the first time in a quarter-century, we have also introduced a new company logo. The new logo has a more modern feel to it, befitting the 21st century. More important, the color scheme reflects the BWL’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
The BWL is a leader in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We own Michigan’s largest solar array, power more than 10,000 homes with electricity generated from landfill gas, and we were the first utility in Michigan to offer customers a comprehensive set of programs to help them save money through energy efficiencies.
The BWL began in the 19th century by offering a vital service to this community. Today, in the early years of the 21st century, our mission is still the same. We are your Hometown People delivering Hometown Power.
Sincerely,J. Peter LarkGeneral Manager