WPPI membership has benefitted Plymouth Utilities

WE ALL KNOW THE old wisdom that there is strength in numbers. For Plymouth Utilities and other public utility members of WPPI Energy, there is more than just strength in numbers – there is economies of scale, savings, innovation and service. And more importantly, there are all of those for all the customers of Plymouth Utilities and the other public utility members of WPPI members.

WPPI, the consortium of 51 not-for-profit, publicly-owned local utilities in Wisconsin, Iowa and upper Michigan, is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

WPPI CEO Mike Peters gave a presentation to the Plymouth City Council last week on the state of the consortium.

Plymouth Utilities hasn’t been part of WPPI for all of those 35 years, but it has been since 2001 and it has proven beneficial for the utilities and the customers it serves, from the smallest home to the biggest industry.

Being part of a group with over $800 million in total assets, Plymouth Utilities takes advantage of many economies of scale that would not be available to the utilities on their own.

Chief among those, of course, is the purchase and generation of electrical power.

For more than its century-plus of existence, Plymouth Utilities hasn’t had the ability to generate the electricity required by its customer base. Instead, it has to purchase electricity from other providers.

Until 2001, Plymouth Utilities was an infinitesimally small buyer in the energy market and was subject to the whims and wishes of energy providers, with little or no clout or ability to achieve savings.

But being part of WPPI makes Plymouth Utilities – and the other 50 municipal utilities – a major buyer and player. It also gives them a stake in their own electric generation facilities through WPPI.

Beyond that, it gives Plymouth Utilities access to technology and services through WPPI that it would not be able and could not afford to provide on its own for its customers.

Some of those are already in place, such as energy efficiency grant programs, and others are in the near future, such as automated meter reading.

Being part of WPPI also gives Plymouth Utilities and the other member utilities a larger, stronger and more effective voice in the halls of government – state and federal – for the needs of their customers. Alone, none of them could make their voice heard effectively or efficiently keep track of the ever-changing regulatory and market environments.

Peters cited that fact that WPPI is currently studying President Barack Obama’s recently-proposed Clean Power Plan to ensure that WPPI and its members meet and exceed the goals in that plan – again something that would be difficult if not impossible for individual members to do on their own.

WPPI is working hard to ensure that the energy they provide and purchase for member utilities is inexpensive and environmentally wise, a goal they have met and should continue to meet.

All in all, membership in WPPI has been good for Plymouth Utilities, good for the customers they serve, and good for the economy of Plymouth and the surrounding area.

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