Progressives call for publicly-owned power

Progressives call for publicly-owned power
© Greg Nash

A coalition of progressive lawmakers is calling for electric power to be publicly owned in a new resolution unveiled Thursday.

The resolution says that the country should “transition away from investor-owned utilities and marketized energy systems...by acquiring them through the Federal Government” and turning them over to state, local or tribal ownership, or community or cooperative ownership. 

Since the call, spearheaded by Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), is a resolution rather than a bill, it will not become law if it is approved and instead would simply express congressional sentiment. 

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Specifically, it seeks to express that “the United States must establish electricity as a basic human right and public good, and eradicate the reliance on monopolized, profit-driven utility corporations and providers and the flawed regulatory regime that has failed to regulate these utilities in the public interest." 

Bush invoked her own experiences in a tweet announcing the resolution.

“I used to use space heaters to heat my home because we couldn't afford the gas bill. One day the outlet started shooting out flames and nearly burned down my 2-year-old baby's room,” she wrote. “We almost lost our baby. We almost lost our home. Public power could have prevented this.”

In the resolution, the lawmakers cite issues including climate change, the fact that many Americans struggle to pay their electric bills, and crises including recent power outages in Texas amid a winter storm. 

The U.S. currently has a federally-owned power corporation, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which provides power to the state and parts of six others.