Letters to the Editor

Just follow the money

t’s easy to see why Puget Sound Energy, a private-for-profit utility, is fighting local citizens’ efforts to develop Public Utility Districts in Island, Skagit, and Jefferson counties. Just follow the money! Their product, for sale to an Australian-Canadian consortium, would be smaller, with risks to their profits and bonuses. Our top consumer advocate, the state attorney general, is recommending against the sale. I’m surprised we haven’t heard about concerns from the Navy about having our base powered by foreigners.

The commitment we will make in voting yes to establish our own non-profit utility is a very small one initially: approximately $5 for the average homeowner per year for the feasibility study. The study will nail down the figures, which presently look very substantially lower than what PSE will tell you, and the public will be involved in the decision to go forward. Washington law clearly sets the rules governing the process of forming, funding, and running a PUD. It covers acquisition of existing distribution property from the private utility. It has been done in 22 Washington counties already.

It is a long and complicated process to establish a Public Utility District. But, just think about what we can have within a decade:

Local, elected commissioners, who are listening to us and making decisions with our best interests at heart.

Dozens of family-wage jobs for system employees—incomes spent in our county.

The lower wholesale costs Bonneville Power guarantees to non-profit utilities, which allow lower rates that support our system, not corporate shareholders and executives.

We are part of an association of Washington public utility districts available to help each other in times of emergency.

Please question what you hear from PSE, watching for deception and fear-mongering. You won’t be getting slick mailers and phone calls from the PUD campaign, because they don’t have a million dollar budget, but watch for forums, and check out www.access.wa.gov, www.whidbeypud.org, and your voters’ pamphlet for more information.

Gayle Austin


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