In a phenomenon that reminds me of a modern youth sports ‘season,’ the political season is well upon us (did it ever really end?).

Municipal utilities often seek to keep ‘politics’ out of the business--an ironic twist for utilities born of politics. The effort is high-minded, perfectly understandable, and quite possibly a mistake.

Municipal utilities are born through the ballot box. They die the same way.

To enjoy long-term financial and operational health, a municipal utility needs to be politically healthy. That means people of good will must be sought out, found, educated, encouraged and supported, to assume positions of authority locally and on up the political food chain.

Along with keeping the lights on, municipal utilities should be about this business.

This business needs to extend up the political food chain. Minnesota’s legislature reconvenes March 8. The U.S. Congress is in session. You may have noticed there is an election in November.

This is not an original thought, but I repeat it because it is true: municipal utilities have a unique perspective when it comes to the utility business. A municipal is a utility, true, but with no rate of return on investment, a municipal truly represents the ratepayer. A municipal also reflects the wishes of citizens of any locality, and the wishes of these citizens are necessarily reflected in utility policy and operation.

So get involved.

If you don’t, somebody will. You may not like the result.

Upcoming rallies

The American Public Power Association Rally is March 7-9. The MMUA Legislative Rally is April 19. Registrations are open.

D.C. travel consideration

Despite the current debate about ‘REAL ID,’ a current Minnesota driver license or ID card is all that will be required to fly to and from this year’s APPA Washington, D.C. Rally. No personal identification is required to participate in the Rally’s day-on-the-hill lobbying activities at the Capitol complex. The only access limitation rally participants may face is if they try to enter a federal agency building where identification is required (such as DOE, EPA, FERC, etc.) In these cases, a passport will serve as proper identification.