Municipal Enterprise

Making the Federal Reserve Fully Public: Why and How

Jordan Haedtler, Andrew Levin and Valerie Wilson
The Center for Popular Democracy

Tacoma’s TAGRO

Made and sold by the City, TAGRO (short for Tacoma Grow) are organic lawn and garden products for landscaping, vegetable gardens, and indoor container gardens.  The City makes about 32,000 cubic yards of TAGRO a year by recycling thousands of tons of biosolids and then sells the products at low-cost to commercial and residential users across Tacoma to encourage environmentally-friendly landscaping and gardening practices.  The City also maintains a demonstration garden at its central wastewater plant and donates its produce to area food banks.

Reclaiming Public Services

Satoko Kishimoto, Olivier Petitjean and Lavinia Steinfor
The Transnational Institute

This new report from the Transnational Institute (TNI) explores how localities across the globe are fighting privatization through the “re-municipalization” of goods and services. Drawing on 835 examples in 45 countries, the report finds that public ownership offers greater efficiency, affordability, and democratic control in sectors ranging from healthcare to energy. The report synthesizes trends in public ownership and includes detailed infographics on the findings. 


The Shape of a New Economy

Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Gar Alperovitz is an historian, political economist, activist, writer, and government official.  In addition to a distinguished career in academia, he is also the a co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, a research institution developing practical, policy-focused, and systematic paths towards ecologically sustainable, community-oriented change and the democratization of wealth.  His latest project is called the “Pluralist Commonwealth,” which is an economic model that is neither traditional corporate capitalism nor traditional state socialism.

Listen to Gar's interview with Ralph Nader here

If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It: Potential Impacts of Privatizing the Tennessee Valley Authority

Joel Yudken

This report presents an overview of the debate over privatizing the Tennessee Valley Authority. It evaluates the pros and cons; summarizes the agency’s organizational, financial, and economic situation; and examines the potential implications of privatization for ratepayers, communities, and the regional economy. 

The Power of Community: How community-owned renewable energy can help Ontario create a powerful economic advantage

Judith Lipp and Brett Dolter

This new report from TREC, an Ontario, Canada based developer of community-owned renewable energy and member of the Federation of Community Power Co-operatives, assesses opportunities to build community wealth stemming from Ontario’s Feed-In-Tariff program (FIT), which provides higher payment rates to renewable energy providers. The report recommends focusing the FIT on cooperatively-owned, First Nations-owned, and municipally-owned enterprises, finding that that every dollar spent on such community-owned energy efforts results in $2 more in additional local economic activity. The authors suggest publically-funded loan guarantees to grow the capacity of these enterprises.

Dallas Farmers Market

Tracing its history back to the late 19th century when area farmers came together to sell their goods, the Dallas Farmers Market was officially established as a municipally-owned and operated market in 1941.  Today, the market encompasses a 26,000 square-foot food hall and artisanal vendor market, as well as “The Shed,” an open-air pavilion featuring vendors that grow, raise, make, and produce food.  In 2015, the Market opened a community garden to help area residents learn how to sustainably grow their own produce, and plans are now underway to develop a recreational space for futsal (a five-a-side version of soccer) in order to engage the community in health and fitness activities.

Dallas Water Utilities

Established in 1881, Dallas Water Utilities provides water and wastewater services to about 2.4 million people in the Dallas area.  In an effort to prevent Sanitary Sewer Overflows (caused when fats, oils, and grease clog sewer pipes), the City launched Cease the Grease Dallas.  Through this program, the City collects used grease and cooking oil from residents at 28 recycling stations and then transports it all to its Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant, where it converts it to the heat and electricity needed to run the plant.  The utility also has several programs to help residents and businesses reduce water consumption, including free irrigation system check-ups, two free high-performance HETs (high-efficiency toilets) per household, and free minor plumbing repairs.

Burlington Electric Department

Catalyzed in 1905 by city officials hoping to reduce the electricity costs for street lighting and residences, Burlington Electric Department is now Vermont’s largest municipally-owned electric utility serving more than 19,600 customers.  In 2004, the publicly-owned utility decided to move towards renewable energy, and in 2014 it reached that goal, becoming the first utility of any considerable size in the country to rely on 100 percent renewable energy for its residents' electricity needs, a transition it expects will save the City $20 million over the next two decades.

Power To The People: Toward Democratic Control of Electricity Generation

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy

This provocative whitepaper explores how public and cooperative ownership in the energy sector can accelerate a transition to sustainable energy while creating democratized wealth, using the historical experience of rural electrification in the United States as a key starting point to imagine a green future.

Rochester Public Market

Established in 1905, Rochester Public Market is a city-run public market selling fresh produce and other food items and housing numerous independent, local businesses.  The market has the largest “token program” in the country, which enables food stamp recipients to easily purchase market goods.  It also is committed to energy efficiency and environmental stewardship, relying on a solar panel roof and solar-powered compacting garbage cans.  In the summer of 2015, the Market will launch a $7.2 million improvement project designed to renovate and expand the market, and will begin a composting program for its vendors.

Port of San Francisco

The Port of San Francisco includes more than 1,000 acres that stretch 7.5 miles across the San Francisco Bay shoreline.  It receives no financial support from the City and relies almost solely on leasing Port property for its revenues.  In FY 2014-15, the Port expects to generate $83.5 million in operating revenue, with over half (52 percent) from commercial and industrial rents, a quarter from parking, and the remainder from maritime uses and cruise fees.  The Port has over 560 commercial and industrial tenants, representing 20.6 million square feet of occupied space. Read more about Port of San Francisco...

Hull Wind

The small Town of Hull (population less than 11,000) is one of dozens of cities that have municipally owned utilities. The Town of Hull Municipal Light Plant, owned by the city, produces all of the city’s electricity. When residents became interested in pursuing renewable power, they led citizen meetings, and were able to meet with the managers of the electric plant to persuade them to put up a wind turbine. In 2001 Hull put up the East Coast’s first commercial-scale wind turbine. Read more about Hull Wind...

Faneuil Hall

In 1976, The City of Boston acquired and restored the historic Faneuil Hall markets, creating one of the first examples of the so-called “festival marketplace” approach to economic development. The city owns and leases out three of its four Faneuil Hall buildings to a private property manager—this space is known as the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Over 70 retailers and 40 office tenants occupy 200,000 square feet of retail space. The fourth building, Faneuil Hall is still used as a lively marketplace, meeting hall where many Boston City debates are held. Read more about Faneuil Hall...

Nebraska’s Community-Owned Electricity System

In Nebraska, 121 publicly-owned utilities, 10 cooperatives, and 30 public power districts provide electricity to a population of around 1.8 million people.

In the United States, there is one state, and only one state, where every single resident and business receives electricity from a community-owned institution rather than a for-profit corporation. It is not a famously liberal state like Vermont or Massachusetts. Rather, it is conservative Nebraska, with its two Republican Senators and two (out of three) Republican members of Congress, that has embraced the complete socialization of energy distribution.

Port of Oakland

Although it's a public agency, the Port of Oakland funds its own operations through its three core enterprises:  the Oakland International Airport, its container port, and its nearly 20 miles of waterfront commercial real estate.  In 2010, the Port employed 37,116 people in jobs that paid 10 percent above the regional average, purchased $851 million from other local businesses, and generated $6.8 billion in revenues. Read more about Port of Oakland...