The Indiana Municipal Power Agency is celebrating Public Power Week, October 3-9, along with more than 2,000 other community-powered, not-for-profit electric utilities that collectively provide electricity to 49 million Americans. The dedicated staff members of these municipally-owned utilities work tirelessly to keep the power flowing and public power communities up and running each and every day.
With a rich history in Indiana, public power is something that Hoosiers can be proud of. Indiana’s public power history got its humble start in Wabash, Indiana on March 31, 1880, when mechanics electrified the community’s courthouse that evening with a light atop the building, amazing a local crowd. At the time, the Wabash City Council decided to own its municipal electric lighting system rather than franchising the utility to a private company, creating the first ever public power community.
From then on, public power communities appeared at a rapid pace across the nation, with thousands of these utilities forming over the next few decades. However, by 1930, the number of public power utilities began to fall due to the pressure of aggressive private industries and constant advancements in technology. In Indiana, dozens of public power utilities existed, but the continual challenges brought by privately owned utilities were a regular concern. Luckily, there remain 72 public power utilities in Indiana that still maintain their public power status.
By 1979, eleven of these public power communities in Indiana organized themselves into a “Joint Action Committee” to become a joint action agency, which would allow them to strengthen their negotiating power with privately owned utilities. This committee officially became the Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA) in 1980, eventually having its first operating year in 1983. Since then, IMPA has helped dozens of municipally-owned utilities pool their resources together and serve their customers in the most economically efficient way possible. In the last nearly 4 decades, IMPA has acquired a diverse power supply portfolio, a membership of 61 public power communities across the Midwest, and over $2 billion worth of assets. With the help of each IMPA member and their utility staff, public power has flourished in Indiana for over 140 years.
IMPA and its members continue to work toward a bright future of supplying low-cost, reliable, and environmentally-responsible power to all 61 member communities, serving 340,000 Hoosiers altogether.
“The people behind our public power utilities take pride in serving our friends and neighbors with one of our most essential needs,” said Raj Rao, President and CEO of IMPA. “Public Power Week helps us recognize these determined individuals whose work often goes unacknowledged. Thank you to all our member utility staff members, as well as IMPA staff—your contributions truly make our communities thrive.”
Celebrate public power and its significant history with IMPA and its 61 member utilities this week!