OMAK – Trish Butler has announce her intention to file for election to another term as an Okanogan County Public Utility District Commissioner.
Elected to the PUD Board for the first time in 2006, Butler retired as Finance Director with the City of Omak, a position she held for 15 years. Prior to that she was employed as Clerk/Treasurer for the city of Grand Coulee for 15 years.
“I wish to continue to serve the people of Okanogan County Public Utility District as Commissioner and I will be filing for re-election,” she said. “I was elected for my first term of office in 2006 and if there is anything I have learned it is how exceeding complex the energy service industry is. I am passionate about retaining local control and the preservation of public preference power i.e. cost based power from the federal hydro system.”
She feels the most challenging aspect of my term was the need for rate increases for the first time in 10 years. She said these resulted not only in an increase in rates but changes in the design and structure of those rates and all occurring at a time of local, state, and national financial crises.
“The rate increases largely were due to higher BPA costs and conversely the revenue from surplus power sales had also decreased substantially. For example, wholesale revenues to Okanogan PUD decreased nearly $5 million in one year due to low water supply as well as the price per MW decreased,” said Butler.
She said she supports the continued pursuit of acquiring public right of way from the state to allow construction of the new Pateros to Twisp Transmission Project which she anticipates will conclude this year with construction beginning in 2013.
“I’m most surprised at the need to plan 20 and 30 years in advance for projects due to the length of time needed to navigate all the state and federal permitting requirements. For example, in British Columbia a dam project can be permitted in three years while in the United States it is typically a 10 to 15 year process,” she said.
During her service on the board she points to the PUD telecom project as a success with the number of new customers increasing yearly, as well as the demand for increased download speeds.
“Prices to internet services providers have been lowered a number of times reflecting the increased usage of the system. In addition, the PUD successfully obtained low interest loan and grant funds totaling $9 million to expand telecom services to the underserved areas in Okanogan County,” she said.
Butler believes the PUD Commission needs to be ever vigilante in monitoring state and federal legislation and relevant agency rules that substantially affect the cost effective operations of the electric utility.
“The Board of Commissioner’s decisions have to be made not only for today but for the future based on sound business and operating principles and are a requirement in today’s utility industry,” she said.
Butler is a member of the Okanogan Omak Rotary Club and currently serve as secretary. My husband Bob Butler sells real estate for Remax Welcome Home and we have been married for 17 years and have seven grandchildren.