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UPDATE: Local PUD looks likely for ballot

Supporters collect enough signatures to force vote

The group that wants to form a public utilities district and take over Puget Sound Energy’s territory on Whidbey Island said this week they have collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

“People for Yes on Whidbey PUD” wants to put a public takeover of PSE on the November ballot. Organizers for the group would not say how many signatures had been gathered on the petitions that call for a public vote. But added that they had collected more than 3,200 signatures by Tuesday.

A total of 2,392 signatures are needed to qualify the measure for the ballot.

“We have well over that, but some will be disqualified for various reasons,” said Ed Jenkins, a spokesman for the group.

“We have done our own cursory check and have high confidence we will go over easily. We will keep collecting signatures right up to the time to turn them in,” Jenkins said.

In early April, several disgruntled and concerned residents of Whidbey Island came together to search for an alternative to PSE power.

Campaign director Dave Metheny had researched the viability of forming a public utility district on Whidbey Island. Group officials said the advantages were clear: The utility would be locally owned, not for profit and would provide the lowest cost power available.

They formed “People for Yes on Whidbey PUD” and a movement for public power was started.

Volunteers stepped forward and a grassroots movement gathered the signatures that were needed to place the formation of a Whidbey PUD on November’s ballot.

With enough signatures now in hand, the backers for a Whidbey-based public utilities district will hold a special event Wednesday.

“People for Yes on Whidbey PUD” are inviting the public to witness the symbolic signing of the final signature of their petition. The ceremony is 10 a.m. today at the Island County Auditor’s Office, 400 N. Main St., Coupeville.

The signing will precede the filing of the petitions to place the formation of a Whidbey Island Public Utility District on the November’s ballot.

The group said the Island County auditor, county commissioners and other island officials are expected to attend.

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