The Board of Water & Light is different than most utilities with which you are familiar. Back in 1885, the citizens of Lansing decided the benefits of electricity and public drinking water were too important to be trusted to anyone except the citizens themselves. So they created a publicly owned utility to provide these services.
As a public power utility the Board of Water & Light is owned by its customers. While many utilities are investor-owned and managed to deliver profits into the pockets of stockholders, the BWL is managed to return value and benefits to the people it serves.
The BWL is guided by a Board of Commissioners made up of citizens just like you. For more than 120 years, BWL customers have reaped the benefits of public power. Here are just a few of them:
BWL RATES ARE LOWER. Nationally, residential customers of investor-owned utilities pay rates that are 21 percent greater than rates paid by BWL residential customers. Closer to home, we have a long-term goal to keep our residential rates at least 18 percent below our closest investor-owned competitors.
BWL SERVICE IS MORE RELIABLE. We know reliable service is important to our customers, so we don’t cut corners when it comes to maintaining our system and keeping trees from growing into our power lines. Our operations are based right here in our community, so when bad weather happens we’re able to respond immediately and restore power for our customers.
THE BWL IS MORE RESPONSIVE. We’re big enough to serve our customers according to the highest industry standards, but small enough to listen to what our customers want. Our service center is located right here in Lansing, not 100 miles away.
BWL CUSTOMERS COME FIRST. Investor-owned utilities often face conflicts between the interests of shareholders or customers. And the interests of shareholders usually win out. At the BWL, our shareholders and owners are the same, so there’s never a conflict over whose interest to serve.
BWL "PROFITS" ARE RETURNED TO THE COMMUNITY. Investor-owned utilities generate profits to return to stockholders scattered across the country. At the BWL, money generated above our expenses are returned to our customers through lower rates, or invested in the utility to keep your service reliable. For BWL customers, the real return on their public power investment comes through lower rates, keeping millions of dollars right here in our community every year.
THE BWL SPURS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. Each year, we invest millions of dollars in new infrastructure to keep our facilities up to date. That means jobs and economic development for the Lansing area. Our low rates often help attract new business to our area. Through our “payment in lieu of taxes” to the city of Lansing, we return almost $9 million every year to Lansing’s city government to help fund vital city services.
THE BWL REFLECTS COMMUNITY VALUES. When our customers tell us something is important, “just getting by” isn’t good enough. That’s why we’ve embarked on one of the most aggressive programs in the country to remove lead from drinking water as an issue of concern for our customers. Although we’re in compliance with the EPA’s lead action level, we’ve committed to removing all lead service lines from our water service territory. Through education and action we’ll continue to take all appropriate steps to protect our customers from exposure to lead in drinking water.
THE BWL SERVES THE COMMUNITY. Your hometown utility wants to help make our community a great place to live. That’s why we started programs like Pennies for Power and Adopt A River. We are also major sponsors of the BWL Chili Cook-Off, Silver Bells in the City, the Common Ground Festival, and our own hometown professional sports franchise, the Lansing Lugnuts.
THE BWL COMMUNICATES WITH YOU. We believe our customers deserve to know how their utility works, the programs that can help them, and how they can get involved. You find us talking in the media, in neighborhoods, at meetings and through our Web site and newsletters to inform our customer owners and keep them involved in public power.
» Find more information about Public Power and how it helps communities across the country