Celebrating public power and municipal-owned electric utilities

Jeff Fiegenschuh

One of the favorite parts of my job is overseeing RMU and our municipal electric utility. This year national public power week is being celebrated from Oct. 2-6. The city will be celebrating this by giving tours of the power plant, offering public demonstrations of our new electric safety trailer, giving away smart thermostats, and profiling our employees who work daily to provide our community with reliable and affordable power.  There will be more to come through our local news outlets and social media.

The City of Rochelle has operated an electric and light department since the spring election of 1893 when newly-sworn-in Mayor Edward Gardner made a firm commitment that if elected, the city would build an electric and light plant. Gardner was elected and that August the city council accepted a bid of $10,972 from Consolidated Engineering Co. to install the complete plant. In three short months, on Nov. 28, 1893, the first plant was put into action, lighting the streets of Rochelle. RMU has been offering reliable, low-cost power ever since. 

Rochelle is one of 2,000 communities in 49 states and five U.S. territories that have a public power utility. As a whole, public power utilities have lower rates than other types of electric utilities across the country. On average, residential customers served by public power pay monthly bills that are four percent less than those served by investor-owned utilities and 16 percent less than customers served by cooperatives. In fact, based on May data from the U.S. Department of Energy, the average residential rate across the US was 17.86 cents per kWh.  This is the highest on record. RMU’s summer residential summer rate is well below this at 13.5 cents per kWh. We can maintain lower rates due to long-term, low-cost energy purchase contracts, the implementation of demand response programs and our ability to lower transmission capacity costs through RMU’s behind-the-meter generation facilities. 

I would like to thank all our staff at RMU for their years of dedication and service. Rochelle and our surrounding service territory has the best public power employees in the country. You help make my job fun and fulfilling.

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They are done by a team of people.” -Steve Jobs

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” -Michael Jordan

“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to the team.” -Reid Hoffman

Jeffrey A. Fiegenschuh, ICMA-CM, MPA, is the city manager of the City of Rochelle.