To the Editor:
I attended three PUD meetings over a month-long period; the last being the annual budget hearing. At the budget hearing I signed the form to indicate I wished to speak at the meeting. I sat for two hours and 45 minutes. Others kept leaving until I was the only non-PUD person left. When the commissioners started a new mundane topic, without giving me the opportunity to speak, I, too, left the meeting.
What I’ve determined from attendance at the PUD commissioner meetings:
1. It’s a waste of my time to attend PUD commissioner’s meetings. Ratepayers are not asked for input on anything and are generally ignored.
2. There is no oversight to the PUD Commissioners. They are the last word. There’s no higher body to take your concerns to. (Even private utilities have an oversight group to assure they are acting in an ethical and responsible manner).
3. The election of capable commissioners is VITAL.
4. There is one commissioner, Mike Swanson, who represents the ratepayers. The other two commissioners represent the PUD management and are rubber stamp people.
5. Many counties receive power from other counties with a closer, more convenient power source. Power has been provided to Grayland–Tokeland from Grays Harbor PUD for over 70 years! In last week’s (Jan.15) Observer article, Swanson said, “The Pacific Co. PUD is taking power costing millions to an area more conveniently served by Grays Harbor PUD. They would probably have more reliable power if we had not gotten involved back in 1999”.
6. The proposed loop across Willapa Bay was a daydream that will never happen. However, it gave an excuse to put in a substation and build a line to Tokeland. I predict it will turn into a nightmare of wasted money. According to the article, the new Grayland/Tokeland connection will generate about $500,000 net receipts against a $1.2 million dollar annual bond repayment. The rest ($700,000/year) will be on yours and my monthly bills!
What can we as ratepayers do now?
1. It’s critically important that we elect knowledgeable, conscientious, common sense commissioners who represent the ratepayers.
2. The current commissioners are all nice people. We need more than nice. We need commissioners who question the logic of projects being proposed and how they affect ratepayers.
Mike Swanson does this, and I will support his candidacy when he comes up for his next term. Before the other two commissioner positions are open, we need to cultivate prospective people who will make independent, thoughtful decisions. Unfortunately, that’s not until 2016 and 2018. Those two commissioners are in their senior years, as am I, and probably won’t run again. Prospective candidates with good decision-making skills need to think ahead. The commissioners are well paid and receive excellent health care benefits.