The People vs. the PUD

Dear Gary,

Our PUD is in disarray, piling up millions in additional debt each year. The PUD debt is currently $38 million. Is the public aware? Where is our watch dog press? We and our utility are in over our heads, literally drowning, and there are still plans to continue spending more than we are making. Any rancher, farmer, business or household can tell you that economic plan will fail. The PUD needs one-third more money from the ratepayers, scheduling three public meetings to let us know. I hope your readers saw the small PUD advertisement on page 2 in last week’s Gazette-Tribune. With no news release or article or community calendar announcement, a low public turnout will make a wrong decision by the PUD easier.

If the 33 percent increase over five years proposed by the PUD was enough to fix the problem and balance the books for good, I just might tighten my belt and help the utility cover real costs. Unfortunately, what they plan next, after the rate increases, really has me worried, Municipal Bonds!

Our Similkameen River, its scenic Similkameen Falls, its salmon and steelhead fishing, and the economic benefits of outdoor recreation and tourism will all be sacrificed for a failed business plan. Our utility wants so badly to be a hydro-electric producer, they would sell $ 64.2 million dollars in municipal bonds to the rich elites of Wall Street, as a fundraiser for their project. In truth, the flows of the Similkameen River are too low and seasonal for generation of affordable electricity at today’s construction costs. An independent economic study, prepared by Rocky Mountain Econometrics, using PUD estimates, shows a loss of $26/megawatt-hour generated, net loss to the PUD, $ I million/annually. We cannot afford this debt and damage to our natural resources. Stop the Spending! Attend the public meeting, Monday, July 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Okanogan PUD Auditorium.

Joseph Enzensperger