McPherson Board of Public Utilities will hold a celebration on Main Street Sept. 5 to commemorate its 50-year anniversary.

"BPU was founded in 1969; prior to that, the water and electricity were a department of the city," said McPherson BPU General Manager Tim Maier.

By establishing its own governing body, BPU is able to focus on service, Maier added.

BPU has more than 8,500 residential and commercial customers in McPherson and outside of city limits that it supplies with both water and electric service.

"Providing good, reliable service to customers has allowed industry to grow," Maier said.

Another key component of BPU's success is its partnership with Westar Energy in serving as its on-call peak generation provider.

According to its website, BPU's four gas turbine generators have the capacity to generate more than 235 megawatts of electricity. It also offers "virtually unlimited capacity and unbeatable reliability with a System Average Interruption Duration Index Rating of 30.25 (99.99 percent) through a redundant electric system."

"BPU has been a vital piece of our community," said Mayor Tom Brown. "They've provided really affordable rates for the past 50 years. Our industrial growth has really been built on BPU's affordable electric rates."

Brown also said that BPU has relevance not only as a utility, but as an employer of 70 workers.

"Our employees are all residents of McPherson, so they have an interest in providing reliable service not only for themselves, but also to their neighbors," Maier said.

McPherson Board of Public Utilities' celebration will be held from 5 to 9 p.m Sept. 5 on Main Street in downtown McPherson.

"It gives us an opportunity to thank our customers for having the chance to serve them," Maier said.

Free hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and a drink will be given out from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in three locations: the parking garage near Sunflower Bank, the parking garage in the 200 block of North Maple Street and at a tent in the 100 block of West Marlin Street.

Giveaways, a trivia contest, equipment displays and informational booths will also be part of the event, which will culminate in a laser light show at 8 p.m. in the 300 block of North Main Street.

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.