Anti-PUD group pops up on Whidbey

An anti-PUD sign sits along Bayview Road on Tuesday, one of many that popped up around the county during the weekend.  - Roy Jacobson / The Record
An anti-PUD sign sits along Bayview Road on Tuesday, one of many that popped up around the county during the weekend.
— image credit: Roy Jacobson / The Record

A new player has jumped into the battle over creating a public utility district on Whidbey Island.

This weekend, anti-PUD yard signs popped up on the island from Clinton to north of Oak Harbor. The signs, part of the campaign is sponsored by Whidbey Consumers for Affordable Energy, show a power outlet and the phrase "pull the plug."

According to the Public Disclosure Commission, the state's watchdog on political campaigns, the group is based in Oak Harbor, but the treasurer for the group is Philip Lloyd of Seattle.

Lloyd is also the treasurer for the Skagit Committee for Reliable and Affordable Energy and Jefferson County Citizens against Proposition 1. Efforts to start public utility districts are also underway in those counties.

Lloyd, a Seattle-based accountant, declined to comment Monday, but he confirmed that the group is "doing some work regarding some energy measures on the ballot in November."

Lloyd appears to be the link between the various anti-PUD groups in the three counties that are trying to take over Puget Sound Energy's territory so local power companies can be formed.

The groups all filed with the Public Disclosure Commission as political action committees on Aug. 7, and Lloyd is listed as the treasurer for each group.

No other contacts have been listed for the three groups in paperwork filed with the state; the box that lists the campaign manager for each anti-PUD committee has been left blank.

Lloyd has been the treasurer on various campaigns in recent years including the "No on 920," an initiative to repeal of the estate tax that failed at the ballot box in November 2006. He was also involved as the treasurer of an political action committee formed to elect three candidates to the Seattle school board in 2005 and was treasurer on Jean Godden's campaign to get elected to the Seattle City Council in 2007.

Dave Metheny, the campaign director for "People For Yes on Whidbey PUD," the group that started the push for a local PUD, said the signs were the first he heard of the group.

"The group seems to have spilled hundreds of yard signs from north to south along the roads and highways of the island," Metheny said.

"My wife and I came home at about 9 p.m. and we went back out at about 11 a.m. Monday morning, and we noticed the first ones at the Chevron corner," he said. "We drove up the island in the afternoon to north of Oak Harbor and they were everywhere."

"Either way, this is not a good way to introduce themselves, whoever they are," Metheny said. "The tactic is a little different. I guess if you're not familiar with the island culture, you don't know that this is not the way to go."

"People For Yes" are also setting out signs, but only where supporters have received permission.

Metheny said he called road and highway departments and found that the signs are placed in public right-of-ways and have to be removed at taxpayers' expense.

Metheny added that he is anxious to see who is a main contributer to the anti-PUD campaign and if Puget Sound Energy will be on the list.

"People for Yes" have raised $12,965 for the campaign and have spent $5,903 so far, according to records on file with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

The three groups formed to fight the creation of PUDs on Whidbey and in Skagit and Jefferson counties have reported no contributions and no expenditures through Sept. 2.

Brian Kelly contributed to this report.

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