LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Washington PUDs have lower rates
July 19, 2008 · 9:12 AM
To the editor:
Electricity service is a very important commodity that rightfully belongs in the public domain.
By nature, electric systems must be monopolies. No one wants several sets of power lines running down each street and highway. Should private persons be allowed to make a guaranteed profit where there can be no competition?
Much of the electricity we consume is generated by hydroelectric dams that were constructed with our tax money. The water in the rivers that turn hydro generators is public. The same is true of the air that powers wind turbines and the sun that powers photoelectric cells.
Our major wholesale electric supplier, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), was created in 1937. It markets power (at cost) from an assortment of public and private dams, a nuclear plant and wind energy generation facilities. BPA is a public agency that has served us well and helped keep electric rates low in the Pacific Northwest. Puget Sound Energy buys some of its electricity from BPA.
As it now works with PSE sandwiched into the equation, electricity flows from BPA (or other sources), through PSE to our meters. PSE purchases electricity at a low wholesale price, marks it up to cover their costs plus profit, and bills us. Profits keep the shareholders and corporate millionaire executives happy. It keeps the corporate jet flying. And that’s how corporations are designed to work.
Replace PSE with a (not-for-profit) Whidbey PUD in that equation and the profit factor disappears. Add into the mix that PUDs get lower wholesale rates from BPA than do private utilities and it all adds up.
The many PUDs across Washington state have lower rates to consumers. The economy of scale here is that the smaller PUDs have the lower rates. PSE is the largest electric utility in the state and it has the highest rates.