Letters to the Editor

We are not teenagers

The Sept. 24 edition of the Whidbey News-Times published a brief article, “Chamber says no to PUD,” in which Jill Johnson, executive director of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, is quoted as saying, “The PUD proposal is a little like sending your teenager to the mall with an unlimited credit card and hoping they won’t charge it up.” As a candidate for PUD commissioner from District 2, I believe Ms. Johnson has been misinformed.

There are five candidates running for the three commissioner positions and all of us have prior professional or public service experience. For example: One candidate is a CPA, and a former commissioner for the Blaine PUD; one is a past commissioner on another board in Oak Harbor; another is a former executive of Puget Sound Energy (PSE), and was once the general manager of PSE’s operations here on Whidbey Island; and one is a former physician.

I was a commissioner of Municipal Light and Power in Anchorage for nine years, and was chairman of the commission for the last two of those years. I also worked on utility and telecommunications legislation with the Alaska State Legislature. Overall, I have over 20 years experience in public policy and public finance positions. I consider myself a professional in the area of electric power.

PSE, on the other hand, has a bond rating of BBB-, just one step above junk bond rating, and their debt/equity ratio is 70 percent. Simply put, they are in financial distress. Their only source of revenue to regain financial health is their customers, us, the ratepayers. We can avoid participating in the financial problems of PSE by forming a PUD.

The chamber is, of course, free to endorse any person or initiative they wish. In view of the facts; however, I object to being compared to a “teenager with a credit card.”

Pat Harman


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