Why do we want to replace PSE with a public utility district?

LOCAL CONTROL

PSE is accountable only to its shareholders and sets rates to maximize profits. Half the members on the Boards of PSE and Puget Holdings represent non-US investment groups that want to ensure adequate profits for the pension funds they manage.

The Thurston PUD would be accountable to its customers and governed by three elected commissioners who would respect the values of the community. In practice, that means they would need to consider cost-effectiveness, environmental sustainability, and community values.

CLEANER ENERGY

Almost 90% of the resources that power PUD communities produce zero carbon emissions and PUD’s produce only 1.4% of the states total carbon emissions.

Most of the electricity that serves PUD communities is clean, renewable hydropower.  Northwest hydropower (electricity generation fueled by flowing water) offsets emissions equivalent to 10 million cars and allows for growth of other renewable resources like wind and solar by backing up these intermittent resources with reliable power.

Source: Washington State Dept of Commerce

PSE acquired Washington Natural Gas in the late 90’s and became an “Energy” company providing both electricity and natural gas. PSE’s ability to transition away from fossil fuel-generated electricity sooner than required by the 2019 Washington Clean Energy Transition Act is limited due to its financial investment in natural gas.

Thurston PUD would be able to transition to non-carbon energy much more quickly than PSE. Other PUDs in the state already operate with 90-99% non-carbon fuel sources, and the new PUD, with access to low interest bonds and no shareholders to pay, would be able to more quickly invest in cleaner energy technology.

Technology to produce affordable clean energy generation is advancing at a remarkable pace. Unfortunately, producing electricity cheaply is not to PSE’s advantage. The following is from its recent 10-K submission to the SEC (an annual, comprehensive overview of the company’s business and financial condition).

Technological developments may have an adverse impact on PSE’s financial condition. Advances in power generation, energy efficiency and other alternative energy technologies, such as solar generation, could lead to more wide-spread use of these technologies, thereby reducing customer demand for the energy supplied by PSE which could negatively impact PSE’s revenue and financial condition.

By this quote, PSE is essentially saying that, as a for-profit corporation, they CANNOT look after our best interests by pursuing better energy technologies.

BETTER VALUE

The graph below shows PSE’s average residential electrical rate compared to other utilities in our region.

Source: Electricity Local

PSE sends profits to investors and provides lavish compensation packages for senior management.

The EKC-PUD would to invest in technology that would improve reliability, provide cleaner energy and lower rates.

PSE has neglected maintenance programs and trimmed work crews to maximize profits, and it shows. PSE’s service reliability is in the bottom third of US utilities.

Source: PSE 2018 Service Quality Program and Electric Service Reliability Filing

This trend toward poor reliability has been ongoing for some time. A standard industry  measure of reliability is the average annual outage minutes per customer calculated as follows (SAIDI).

SAIDI equation

As you can see, annual customer outage duration has been worsening.

Sources: WA UTC Annual Reliability Reports of Electric Companies, ** SAIDI

Thurston PUD would invest in necessary maintenance and adequate work crews, improving reliability and creating jobs because the PUD commissioners will know that this is important to their constituents. Our dollars would stay in our community.

Suggested Reading

The following articles explain the benefits of PUDs further.

Are All of Your Questions Answered?

Got an important question? Let us know!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply