The Power Is Still Out in New Orleans After Hurricane Ida. We Need Public Control of Our Energy Systems.
When natural disasters like Hurricane Ida occur, policymakers often wave away the damage and devastation as an unavoidable “act of God” (to use common insurance language). However, these types of response ignore deep structural deficiencies and inequities in the way critical infrastructure systems are often designed and operated in the United States. Specifically, they obscure the role of private, for-profit ownership and control of these services.
There is an alternative to this extractive, ecologically unsustainable, and racially and economically inequitable model of private control over our vital infrastructure: public ownership. In the electricity sector, for instance, roughly 28 percent of customers in the United States already get their power from a publicly owned utility or cooperative. These locally controlled, not-for-profit entities often charge significantly lower rates for electricity than their for-profit counterparts and, in the case of publicly owned utilities, return a greater percentage of their revenue back to the local community.