What is a Mutual?
Parkland Light & Water Co (PL&WCo) is a mutual utility. A mutual is a form of cooperative where the members of the utility are also the owners. As a part owner in the company, the members also have a voice in how it is operated. A five-member Board of Trustees, elected by the members, represents them in deciding company policy. They meet monthly with the company manager for updates on the state of the company and to make decisions that decide the long-term company direction. In a mutual it is the customer/member, and not stockholders that determines the policy and direction of the organization. PL&WCo operates on a not for profit basis. Excess operating revenue is used to improve service or it is returned to the membership.
PL&WCo is not a government agency. We pay a variety of federal, state and municipal taxes such as property taxes, public utility tax, a state business and occupation tax, sales tax, and, like all businesses, state and federal employment tax.
PL&WCo is the nation’s oldest mutual utility, established February 17, 1914. Pacific Lutheran University forefathers and a community of forward thinking homemakers inspired the idea of the mutual. They had been around cooperatives in their native Scandinavian countries. The first manager (E.B. Ellingson) guided the volunteer home owners who set poles and strung wire to bring in power, and dug ditches and installed open flumes to bring water to Parkland.
PL&W Co. Today
Today, as the nation’s first and oldest operating mutual/non-profit public utility, PL&W has 31 employees who work to serve over 4,000 households and businesses with electricity and over 11,000 households and businesses with water. This translates to 113 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and one billion gallons of water delivered annually.
Susan Cutrell, the current General Manager, was appointed by the Board of Trustees on October 1, 2015. She is the 12th General Manager in PL&W’s 100+ year history; and she is the company’s first female General Manager! Susan’s commitment to the employees of Parkland Light & Water and the Parkland community is evident in her leadership.