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The importance of public utility service

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

This week marks the celebration of Public Power, Public Natural Gas and Customer Service Weeks across America.

Being a public utility means DU is owned by the City of Decatur, but operates autonomously with an independent board of directors, management team and financials.

What's the difference between public utilities and those owned by investors? The biggest difference is that business and operational decisions are made with customers in mind - not a return on investment for stockholders. Plus, our employees and directors live and work here locally - and give back to the community through volunteering and individual financial support.

Tuesday we'll look specifically at Public Power, Wednesday is Public Natural Gas and Thursday will focus on Customer Service. Stay tuned! #PublicPowerWeek #PublicNaturalGasWeek #CustomerServiceWeek

Thank you, our customer! - Friday

Today we wrap up our celebration of Public Power, Public Natural Gas and Customer Service Weeks. In truth, none of this would be possible with YOU - our customer. We appreciate each of you very much and want you to know that we take our commitment to providing outstanding utility service very seriously. Thank you for being our customer and allowing us to serve you! Here's a look back at past Customer Appreciation Days - before we had to social distance!

A commitment to excellent Customer Service is at the heart of any public utility - including DU! When you hear the words "customer service", you probably think of the employees in the office who take and process payments, or help with establishing, transferring or stopping utility service. These are certainly a vital part of DU's service to our customers - but it doesn't end there.

Every employee at DU has an important role in making sure your utility services are delivered in a safe, reliable and cost-effective manner. Some of them you may never see because they work "behind the scenes" in finance, information technology, purchasing, engineering, dispatch or other "internal" areas of operation. Some you see on the side of Decatur's roads and highways repairing power lines, reading meters or working on underground gas, water and wastewater pipes. Others are hard at work in our plants delivering safe drinking water and treating wastewater before it's returned to the Tennessee River. Regardless of where they work - or what they do - it's all in an effort to provide you, our customer, with outstanding service! #CustomerServiceWeek

#PublicNaturalGas - Wednesday

Today we are looking at the benefits of Public Natural Gas. Many of them mirror what we talked about yesterday with electricity - autonomous operation, being owned by those we serve and not stockholders, local decision-making with the best interests of our customers in mind, etc.

One of the other great benefits is the way we structure retail rates for natural gas customers. Our energy analysts are constantly staying abreast of market prices to achieve a low cost and levelized rates- both today and well into the future. And with natural gas prices at historic lows, now is the best time ever to look at installing natural gas for heating your home, heating water and cooking..

So exactly what is "Public Power" and why do we celebrate it? Public power companies are owned by either municipalities like the City of Decatur or members of cooperatives like Joe Wheeler EMC. In the case of DU, we operate autonomously with a separate board of directors appointed by the city council. We are incorporated separately from the city, have separate financials and an independent management and employee team. All decisions - from operational budgets to long-range planning to rate increases - are made locally with the following mission in mind: to provide safe, reliable utility services at the lowest possible rate and meet the needs of our customers and employees.

We also stand ready to assist other utilities when catastrophic storms or events spare us but hit them hard. Case in point, electric crews just returned from Andalusia and Daphne where they helped restore power following Hurricane Sally. Of course, those same crews are ready to roll when storms strike our area as well!

DU purchases its wholesale electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which is also a public power entity. Another example of the benefits of public power: When TVA offered a 2.5% credit on our non-fuel, wholesale power cost for the next 12 months, DU elected to pass that savings through to all customers. We are proud to be Public Power and honored to serve you, our customers!

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