Whidbey PUD supporters plan 'Power Palooza'

Supporters of a creating a Whidbey Island-based electric utility company will hold a "Power Palooza" starting next week to share information about the proposed formation of a local public utility district.

"People for Yes on Whidbey PUD" are leading the effort to buy Puget Sound Energy's electrical supply system on the island and run it locally. PSE supplies power to Whidbey Island and more than 1 million customers across Washington.

Voters will decide in November if a local public utility district should be created. They will also pick commissioners for three PUD districts on Whidbey if the district is approved at the ballot box.

Part of the reason for the upcoming meetings, organizers said, is to counter the recent report on the takeover that was written by a PSE consultant.

Earlier this month, the consulting firm UtiliPoint International released a study that said the proposed takeover of PSE’s electric utility business on Whidbey Island would cost residents more than $130 million and lead to an average of 20 percent higher electric rates.

Ed Jenkins, spokesman for "People For Yes on Whidbey PUD," said the group has completed its own study.

Jenkins said the UtiliPoint report included "crazy figures," but his group will present a study "based on real world costs, the law and how power is really allocated by Bonneville Power."

"We have worked hard to make our figures representative of the real world," Jenkins said.

He also said the forums will include experts and commissioners from operating PUDs.

Two types of forums will be held; for businesses, and for the general public. All forums will be held from 7 to 9 p.m.

The business-orientated forums are Aug. 26, at Hayes Hall, Room 137 at Skagit Valley College, Oak Harbor; Aug. 27, in the commons at Coupeville High School; and Aug. 28, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland.

The public-orientated forums are Sept. 2, at the Coupeville Rec Hall; Sept. 3, at the Elks Club, 155 NE Ernst St., Oak Harbor; and Sept. 4, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland.

"People for Yes on Whidbey PUD" will also hold a benefit concert to help pay for their campaign.

Janie and Joe will headline the event, which will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22 at Clinton Community Hall.

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