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Local Ownership

Cedarburg Light & Water is dedicated to meeting our customers’ needs while helping to make the community a better place to live and work. Cedarburg Light & Water is one of this country's more than 2,000 public power utilities — a utility owned by the people and the community it serves.

Public power systems like Cedarburg Light & Water are non-profit and have one main purpose — to provide customers with the best services at the lowest possible cost.

A seven-person utility commission, elected by the mayor, decides how to operate Cedarburg Light & Water. This local representation and control allows all citizens to have a voice in how our utility can best meet the community’s needs. Community ownership and control is the hallmark of public power — local people working together to meet local needs. At Cedarburg Light & Water we go the extra mile to make sure you receive that personal service that makes us proud to be serving such a great community.

And we’re proud to be your locally owned and operated utility.

As neighbors, we take our responsibility to you very seriously. We know you want reliable power at an affordable cost. You also want a utility provider who cares enough to go the extra mile today…and who has the know-how to build for tomorrow.

To ensure that we’re here for a long, long time, we share resources with other local utilities. In fact, we’re co-owners of a nonprofit, Sun Prairie-based power company, WPPI Energy. Through WPPI Energy, we purchase low-cost electricity for our community and take advantage of the latest technologies to better serve your needs.

There are 82 municipal electric utilities in Wisconsin. Like Cedarburg, these communities believe that public power is the best choice for their communities and citizens. Here are a few of the reasons why:

Community Ownership
Our community-owned utility is owned by the municipality it serves. We exist to provide a public service to the residents and businesses of our community. Service — rather than profit — is our utility's mission.

Local Representation and Control
A municipal utility is governed by the municipality itself, either through the city or an appointed or elected utility authority. In Cedarburg, this is accomplished through a seven-member commission of local citizens. Thus, our utility is governed by residents of our community who are also customers of the utility.

Commission members:
Front row, left to right:  Jack Arnett, City Council Representative; Blaine Hilgendorf, President; Andy Moss, Vice President; Joe Dorr; Back row, left to right: Jim Coutts, Secretary; Tim Larson; and David Pagel. 

Members of Cedarburg's utility commission offer a diverse background of personal, educational and business experience. They share a genuine interest in Cedarburg and its community-owned utility, and have gained familiarity with utility operations, services, finances and the industry in general. The commission's main objective is to successfully guide the utility into the future for the benefit of Cedarburg residents and businesses.

If a customer has a complaint, he or she doesn't have to call long distance and talk to a series of phone operators. The customer can discuss the problem locally, with another member of the community, and be assured that the problem will be addressed.

Quick On-Site Response
We work hard to make sure you don’t experience a power outage. Some things like storms, car accidents involving electric poles or curious raccoons or squirrels can cause problems that are beyond our control. If an outage occurs, we’re always just a few minutes away. We’ll get to the problem and fix it safely and as quickly as possible. Our crews will give top priority to situations where safety may be in jeopardy.

Efficient Operation
Since one of our goals is to be the low-cost provider of electric service, our current and future advantage lies in our efficient operation. Our expenses are substantially lower than those of a private power company.

Keeping Dollars in the Community
Here are some of the ways our municipal utility helps to maintain a sound local economy:

  • Local ownership means that customers' energy dollars stay in the community — creating jobs and supporting the local economy.

  • Municipal utilities serve as an engine for economic development. Local flexibility and quality service offered by municipal utilities are a major advantage for the community in attracting and retaining commercial and industrial customers.  

  • Municipal utilities make significant payments in lieu of taxes to the city. CL&W makes tax payments to the city’s general fund every year. CL&W's 2014 property tax bill was $715,000, and the 2015 bill was $720,000.  This is a contribution of well over $3 million over the past five years which keeps taxes lower for Cedarburg's residents and businesses.

  • On average, municipal utility rates are competitive and often lower than those of other utilities. Competitive rates means more dollars are available to spend on other goods and services, which boosts the local economy. Here in Cedarburg, the average residential customer saves about 25% compared to rates paid by residents in neighboring communities like Grafton, Mequon, Port Washington and Milwaukee.

Community Values
Decisions about the operation of a municipal utility are made locally — by members of the community — at open, public meetings. Because all decisions are made locally, a municipal utility is uniquely able to respond to the community's needs, build on the community's strengths and reflect and advance the community's values.