In March of 1986, having just obtained a Master’s Degree in town planning at Florida State University, I was happy to accept a job offer as the environmental planner for the relatively progressive college town of Gainesville FL — a town that is approximately the same size as Boulder, CO. I was thrilled, when I arrived, to learn that Gainesville owned its own utility company.
Having dabbled in socialism in my college years, I was fully convinced, initially, that Gainesville was quite fortunate to own its utility company. After all, much of the revenue/profits generated by the utility company would be funneled into city coffers. And more importantly, city leaders – as owners of the utility company – would have full control (as its “board of directors”) over how the utility operated. Obviously, the pollution and other undesirable impacts of the typical utility company would be tightly controlled and regulated because the utility company, as their motto proudly proclaimed, was “owned and operated by the people.”