Public utility workers are some of California’s unsung heroes of coronavirus crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has given us a new sense of appreciation for the men and Two Bucket trucks working on a Utility Polewomen who keep Santa Clara’s critical infrastructure running smoothly. From doctors and nurses to grocery-shelf stockers to parcel delivery personnel, the importance of these essential workers to our society and our economy cannot be overstated.

The men and women who work for California’s public power utilities belong in this special class of often unsung heroes. They are quite literally powering America through this crisis.

More than 49 million Americans get their electricity from not-for-profit, community-owned public power utilities like Silicon Valley Power.

We provide low-cost, reliable electricity to over 57,000 customers in Santa Clara and employ 198 people. Last year, we contributed $21 million dollars to the City’s general fund, which helps to provide essential services such as the police and fire departments.

In 1896, our community made a choice to operate under a public power model so that our utility would be responsive and accountable to the community first. Being a public power utility has allowed us to make critical investments in maintenance and improvement of our electrical grid to ensure its reliability, especially during times of crisis.

In 2005, we brought the Donald Von Raesfeld Power Plant online, providing 147 megawatts of in-town generation to serve Santa Clara customers. In 2013, we became the first electric utility in the U.S. to provide free city-wide outdoor internet access to all who live, work or play in Santa Clara. In 2020 and beyond, we remain committed to serving our community. Over the next five years, we will be installing up to 300 new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at Santa Clara parks and other public spaces, with 77 of those stations being installed later this year.

During challenging times like the ones we now find ourselves in, the last thing members of our community should have to be concerned about is the safety and reliability of their electricity supply.

With more than 90 percent of the U.S. population confined to their homes, home energy use has predictably increased. It isn’t just your homes that depend upon public power. We also provide power to Intel, Nvidia, Applied Materials, Oracle, Kaiser Hospital, Santa Clara University, California’s Great America Theme Park, and countless restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and retail establishments.

A low-cost, reliable supply of electricity is a blessing that is too often taken for granted.

The simple act of turning on a light switch or charging a smartphone is made possible by the engineers, technicians, lineworkers, and support staff that comprise America’s public power workforce. They do their jobs with care and professionalism, sometimes at great personal sacrifice and risk. They are a perfect example of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help their communities and their country in times of need, and we appreciate all that our employees are doing to continue to provide you with reliable power and essential services today and every day.