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Letters to Works In Progress: Vote ‘yes’ on Proposition One

The vote on public power (Thurston County Proposition One)  is quite simple, really.

All registered voters in Thurston County get to vote on this measure.  There is much confusion I’m hearing from people.  Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has bombarded citizens with their deceptive, fear-mongering PR campaign, doing the residents of Thurston County no good service in the process. (The Alliance to Protect Thurston Power is a astro-turf organization, and is nearly fully funded by PSE to the tune of over $600K to date!)
I want to explain, after working for the last six months on the campaign to get Proposition One passed, that the only thing this vote actually does is give/or not give our existing Public Utility District the option of starting up an electricity business.  A ‘yes’ vote will not mandate the PUD Commissioners to build and/or acquire electric facilities, it just grants them the authority to proceed in that direction, if they choose, further evaluating how, when, where, and even if pubic electrical power is in the best interest of Thurston County residents.   (So far studies show it certainly is—see that on the website: thurstonpublicpower.org.)
Getting our permission through a county-wide vote is the way any county PUD in Washington gets to pursue electrifying—that is the state law.  It’s through a ‘yes’ vote that the PUD can get our (the people’s) foot in the door for the public power option in Thurston County. Our PUD could then break PSE’s monopoly, which seems clearly to be in our best interest, especially over time.  If they choose to create a public power entity here, it will not happen quickly, and it will not happen in the whole county at one time. This transition will reasonably unfold with the PUD Commissioners’ leadership, and community involvement and input, as PUDs’ are accountable to residents, and their business must be open to the public.  All the other counties in Western Washington already have publicly provided electricity. They voted on this years ago and took their utility business back from private, corporate, for-profit companies; and those residents are served quite effectively and charged significantly less, and in some cases tremendously less right now than we are by PSE.  Let’s give our PUD the chance to make that happen here.  Let’s have more say about how and what our own electrical utility operates.  Toward this new energy future,  I suggest you vote ‘yes’ on Thurston County Propostion One on your General Election Ballot before November 6th.
For more info go to thurstonpublicpower.org
Sandia Slaby, Olympia

PSE not truthful
PSE’s campaign to protect their monopoly has been filled with misinformation. Puget Sound Energy asserts that the area has been well served. Well, the fact is that Puget charges the highest rates in the State of Washington. Period. And, PSE has one of the worst reliability ratings. Paying the highest rates for some of the worst service is outrageous and unacceptable, and if it weren’t for the Puget PR machine, people would be up in arms.
We have paid the highest electrical rates, in part, to satisfy million dollar executive salaries. In 2006 the CEO took $3.2 million a year. Now we are not even told how much they take. It’s an outrage!
Claims have been made that were Prop One to pass the county electrical service would suddenly be thrust onto the Public Utility District. These claims are patently and blatantly false. It is painful to have to respond to such misinformation, and to know that the PSE Goliath has more money than they can stuff into their britches to spend on peddling this and other misinformation.
After passage of Prop One, and what would be a cautious and gradual entry into the electrical business, funding for schools, roads, police, and fire departments would not be at risk. PUDs and other municipal entities make payments in lieu of taxes in order to support services that society has come to depend on.
Jefferson County was persuaded by PSE to settle out of court. They decided to pay a larger amount to avoid litigation, and because, as a rural county, they were able to secure a lower interest rate for borrowing. Thurston County PUD would mount an assertive and vigorous campaign to protect the interests of rate-payers here—we can’t afford to pay more than the system is worth because we don’t get the lower interest borrowing available to the rural district.
It is frustrating to have to respond to these attacks.
Don’t believe PSE. And don’t let PSE scare or misinform you about Proposition 1. They’re just trying to protect their monopoly profit system.
Public power is not risky, does not cost too much, and does not put us in dangerous storm response scenarios. There are not too many questions.
PSE is an aggressive profit making company—and yet keeps an appearance as a “good corporate citizen,” despite real problems with their business model. PSE says that their property is worth as much as $1billion. But their tax assessment is listed at 13% of that, at $131.2 million. Washington law requires utility property to be assessed at “true and fair value.” (RCW 84.12.270)
PSE likes to tout its credentials as a provider of green energy. What they fail to mention is that they use fossil fuels to provide over 50% of their fuel mix. Green energy? or Green washing?
Public power is about having local control. Three or four years ago, Puget Sound Energy was sold to an overseas Investment Bank (Macquarie Group, Australia.) Citizens made overwhelming objections at the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission, which is the group responsible for regulating PSE. The WA UTC was unresponsive to their concerns, and allowed the sale despite overwhelming citizen opposition. Rather than hoping appointed commissioners will respond to the will and needs of the people, the Public Utility District electrical would allow the local PUD to respond, and enhance accountability through the electoral process.
Public power is in the best common interest of rate-payers. For labor and environment, lower rates, reliability, jobs, service, infrastructure, stewardship… Vote Yes on County Proposition No. 1. “Your neighbors thank you. 

For more information, please visit: 
www.thurstonpublicpower.org and 
the PUD also has information, at: www.thurstonpud.org/pud-electric.htm 

The Initiative also has a facebook page: 
www.facebook.com/thurstonpublicpower
All told PSE has probably spent over a million dollars to oppose proposition one, why can’t they increase their annual maintenance budget by as much to keep our system up to par? How much will PSE spend to protect their profits, while failing to provide reliable service? 

Thurston County deserves better.
Please join me to vote Yes on County Proposition No. 1.
Robert Whitlock, Olympia

 

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