Media release

GRDA and Cushing, Public Power Partners since 1953…


(Vinita, Okla) — It exists in 49 of the United States, can be found in over 2,000 communities nationwide (including Cushing) and is a time-tested means of local service that, collectively, meets the electric needs of 49 million Americans.


It is called public power and it is alive and well in the cities and towns that own and operate their own electric distribution system. Some are large (like Los Angeles, Memphis or San Antonio), some are much smaller but all have this common when it comes to their electricity supply: local ownership, local control and local services custom-fit to meet local needs.


Each year, the American Public Power Association (APPA) recognizes the first full week of October as “National Public Power Week” and uses the occasion to promote the benefits and historic successes of publicly-owned electricity utilities. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., APPA is the service organization for the nation’s community-owned electric utilities, like Cushing. The Grand River Dam Authority, which supplies Cushing’s wholesale electricity, is also a member of APPA.


The relationship between GRDA and its public power partners, like Cushing, works like this: GRDA sells wholesale electricity to these communities. In turn, these cities use the municipally-owned electric utility system to distribute that power to the end-user homes and businesses all across town. The revenues generated from those electricity sales are used to operate and maintain the distribution system, purchase more power from GRDA and support other city services, like streets and parks, police and fire protection. All that is done without using tax dollars.


“GRDA wants to recognize public power week because we understand how important the public power model is to the communities we serve and the thousands of Oklahomans who live in those communities,” said GRDA Vice President of Corporate Communications Justin Alberty. “Several of our partnerships with these communities are approaching 75 years old, but the benefits of public power are as strong as ever”


Cushing has been a GRDA wholesale customer and public power partner since 1953.


Along with helping to support the general fund in their respective communities, public power utilities give back in other ways as well. Through payments in lieu of taxes, free or reduced cost electric services, vehicles, equipment and supplies, public power utilities contribute to their local governments and citizen-owners in many ways. In fact, APPA found that public power utilities give back 33 percent more to their communities than privately-owned utilities. That is why the public power idea is still at work, in towns large and small, across the country.


Closer to home, the 15 Oklahoma communities that purchase wholesale electricity directly from GRDA combine to return approximately $36 million annually to city general funds. Those are important dollars, especially at times when tax receipts may be down and other funding sources are not available.


GRDA is Oklahoma’s largest public power utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: employees, electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, and efficiency.