Saturday, November 14, 2009

PSE public hearing for 7.7% rate increase

PSE has proposed a rate increase of 7.7% for electrical power. There will be hearings on the  following dates according my utility bill:
  • December 7, 2009 Bremerton Norm Dicks Government Center
  • December 10, 2009 Lake Washington Technical College Auditorium
  • January 19, 2010  Olympia Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission 
You can also send comment at referencing docket numbers UE-090704 (according to my utility bill).

Many residents of the Pacific Northwest think the Macquarie buyout will bring permanent annual increases in electricity to the Northwest which generally has had low electrical rates due to significant hydro-power generation capability.  Some counties are interested in exercising their right to form a Public Utilities District. Enclosed (far) below  are some links concerning the Macquarie/PSE takeover and the PUD option. Whatcom County has a PUD (Whatcom PUD1) that was established in 1937. It provides a substantial amount of power to industrial customers and owns physical assets in Whatcom County.

Whenever, I think about the public power option, I remember back to some younger days when I lived with a previous belle in the wonderful city of Palo Alto, CA.  My belle at the time was pursuing her Ph.D in psychology  at  a rather large and somewhat successful educational institution  located essentially next door to Palo Alto.  ( Since I was, and still remain a "sturdy golden bear",  I will not commit heresy by printing this educational institution's name in my blog today.)  Needless to say, the people that run Palo Alto  make sure it is quite possibly the most intelligently run city government on the West Coast.  One thing they get right in Palo Alto is public ownership of utilities:

"The City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) is the only municipal utility in California that operates city-owned utility services that include electric, fiber optic, natural gas, water and wastewater services. "

This enables the city of Palo Alto to do something quite remarkable.  Fund city income with ownership of municipal utilities.

"One of the founding principles of these early pioneers was that the utilities must show a financial return to the community. This has continued to be a priority. In the most recent fiscal year, the electric, gas, and water utilities provided millions in financial support to community services such as libraries, parks, police and fire protection. These contributions to the community do not occur in areas served by private power companies. This makes Palo Alto a unique place to live and work."  

While I lived in Palo Alto with this house of graduate students, California was suffering from a continuing and later famous energy crisis that eventually ended up virtually bankrupting the state, the top utility, resulting in the recall of the then Democrat governor and the election of a Hollywood movie star to replace him.  The city of Palo Alto, however, was not suffering from an energy crisis. You see, CPA, at that time (and probably still) owned a dam in California. It was making such a profit selling its unused electricity, that (while I was there), it was returning to Palo Alto utility customers/residents a check instead of a bill.  Receiving that check was an experience I never forgot.

More recent information and links on  the PUD struggle in WA:

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