Not just any utility firm

-For Discover Parkland-

Parkland Light & Water Company is a non-profit mutual utility firm operating in the Parkland area on 12918 Park Ave. so, providing water and electricity to the residents of Parkland and Pacific Lutheran.

Mark Johnson, the hired General Manager of Parkland Light & Water. Johnson is hired by the elected board. Photo by Brandon Adam.

“We provide quality service at the lowest possible price,” Mark Johnson said who is the General Manager of the utility.

Light & Water is different from other utility companies being that is a mutual cooperative. A mutual cooperative is a type of ownership in which the property owners who are receiving services own the utility.

Unlike non-mutual utilities, Parkland Light & Water is not owned by the government or city. This enables the “members,” or property owners, to have a say in how the company is run. One membership equals one vote.

Members are able to democratically decide their leadership, which is a board of five leaders, that in turn hires the General Manager. The General manager hires employees who provide services to the members.

“They hire me, I hire the employees, the employees work for the members, and the members chose the board, so it’s a cycle,” explains Johnson.

Light & Water is also unique because it was the first mutual utility in the United States. The concept of mutual utilities originated in the Pacific Northwest.

Operating since 1914, Parkland Light & Water came into existence when the city of Tacoma had no interest in providing water to the rural farmland of Parkland.

“The Farmers out here wanted electricity and Tacoma wouldn’t serve it,” Johnson said.

Parkland Light & Water as seen from Tule Lake Rd S. Light & Water is located just a few block away from PLU. Photo by Brandon Adam

The citizens of Parkland, including the founders of Pacific Lutheran, countered this by creating their own mutual to supply their own power and water.

“It wasn’t profitable [for Tacoma] to go out into the boonies,” Johnson said. “So the farmers and PLU got together and formed their own company.”

To this day, Light & Water buys their own resources and redistributes them affordably to over 7,000 households including its largest consumer, Pacific Lutheran.

For more information on Parkland Light & Water Company, visit their website at http://www.plw.coop/.



Categories: Parkland

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