About Parkland Light & Water Co.
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.
Today PL&WCo purchases 100% of its power from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). BPA is a Federal Agency created in 1937 to sell power generated by dams on the Columbia River system. It provides some of the lowest cost power available in the country.
PL&WCo owns one substation and part of a second substation is shared with Elmhurst Mutual Power and Light, a neighboring mutual electric utility. The power purchased from BPA is distributed from the substations through the electric distribution wires owned and maintained by PL&WCo.
Water for PL&WCo is pumped from 12 wells, all owned and operated by the company. Five water storage tanks hold over five million gallons of water for fire and peak water demand.
PL&WCo has 29 employees who work to serve 4,400 households with electricity and 7,600 households with water. This translated to 100 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and one billion gallons of water delivered annually.