LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Washington PUDs have very low rates
August 1, 2008 · Updated 6:19 PM
To the editor:
A recent off-island letter writer, under the employ of some firm that fights public utilities, debunked the idea of a local electric public utility on grounds of caveat emptor (Latin for let the buyer beware).
In a capitalistic society this is good advice, but I think this guy was mixing his metaphors. It’s private utility like Puget Sound Energy that has the profit motive; that’s why they are allowed to tac on 8.5 percent for profit alone when they go before the state utility commission for a rate increase.
It’s worth noting that a public utility is nonprofit. PSE is a frequent suitor for rate increases, which is why they have the highest rates in Washington state for electricity.
You can bet that PSE will be flooding your mailbox and your local paper with grave warnings about the dangers of public power, the complexities of running an electrical company and the exorbitant costs you, as a taxpayer, will have to absorb. They’ll probably forego warnings about keeping the lights on since their success here is anything but stellar.
Like that off-island utility guy, I’d invoke that Latin saying that encourages one to examine not just what’s said but who it’s coming from and why.
There’s 28 public utilities spread over 27 counties in Washington state; 23 of these provide electrical service to 831,000 people. Both Jefferson and Skagit County have electric PUD measures before the voters this fall.
PUDs have the lowest electrical rates in the state and guess who has the highest; yes PSE.
PSE is currently (or should I say desperately) trying to sell their business to Macquarie, an Australian conglomerate whose interest in Whidbey probably matches yours for the underage drinking problem in Melbourne.
A PUD in Island County is a viable opportunity, which could provide jobs, local control of our energy, reduced rates over the long run and a real community concern to keeping the lights on. You’ll be voting on it this fall. Check out http://whidbeypud.org/ and click on the history video for an enlightening YouTube video about PUDs in our state.