Public utility district
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In the United States,[existing only in the states of California, Nebraska, Oregon (where they are known as Peoples Utility Districts) and Washington] a public utility district (PUD) is a special-purpose district or other governmental jurisdiction that provides public utilities (such as electricity, natural gas, sewage treatment, waste collection/management, wholesale telecommunications, water) to the residents of that district.
PUDs are created by a local government body, such as a city, county, or metropolitan service area (two or more communities joining together for public utility purposes). Normally the districts are non-profit.
Historically, [the abuse or neglect of many IOU's of rural customers along with their exorbitant costs of service provided the incentive for the formation of] many of the electric PUDs in the Pacific Northwest [which] were created with the express purpose of taking over the territory served by the investor-owned utility then serving customers within the proposed PUD's territory (and in some cases, the PUD's organizers were the only ones [willing to fight] in favor of its creation [due to fear of repercussion] - elections centering on the creation of a PUD often coming back with a decisive majority in favor of staying with the IOU [due to the collusion of the impacted IOU's, bought out political leaders and the current BPA administrators]). The creation of many of these PUDs was also possible due to favorable laws [that were voted into being by the state's first initiative from the people in 1930 supported directly by the rural Granges and the state's progressive Labor movement to be placed] on the books at the time and [helped] with the [implementation by the] direct assistance of individuals in various federal agencies that were strong proponents of public ownership of electric utilities (such as Dr. Paul J. Raver of Bonneville Power Administration).
The Most Recent Efforts Towards the Creation of New Public Electric Utilities
The last four years has seen 4 counties in Washington State attempt to become publicly owned electric utilities (Island, Jefferson, Skagit (all in 2008) and the largest was Thurston (2012). Thurston's most recent effort was outspent $38,000 to $550,000 with countless violations of state campaign laws involving the illegal use of employees for campaigning, public relations expenditures for their multiple county service areas being spent mostly in Thurston County and even using their emergency call centers to push poll county residents from afar. Only Jefferson was successful and through negotiation with the IOU and paying the excessive asking price will it begin electrical service on 4/1/13 on time. Oregon has had failed attempts in: its largest city, Portland and in Multnomah (Portland's County), Yamhill and Clackamas Counties. Success came in Lane County (Emerald PUD), further expansion of Columbia PUD and a fairly recent municipalization in Hermiston a decade ago. The last creation of a totally new PUD in Washington was in Asotin County (1982) which is principally a water and sewage treatment utility but does have a few electric customers. Gray's Harbor PUD took control over its last remaining IOU service area (through condemnation) in the town of Oakville at that time. Nebraska is already 100% public power and several municipal efforts have been occurring in California recently as well. Battles have been ongoing with the IOU for customers in Kittitas County with Kittitas PUD and potential for further expansion of PUD electrical service also exists in Asotin and Whatcom (Bellingham) Counties without the need for a direct vote. Whatcom PUD is a major industrial water provider and currently provides electrical service to one oil refinery. Some customers in Whatcom County were swiped up there from the IOU next to Blaine by its Municipal Utility. This county has been getting a great deal of statewide attention recently due to a major proposal for a deep water coal rail terminal at Cherry Point which Whatcom PUD could become a major water provider to. The State's largest environmental organizations have been actively trying to prevent the permitting of this facility which has only some local support from the adjacent small towns. Once the residents of the rest of Whatcom County realize that their public utility is the water provider of this highly unpopular coal-port proposal there may soon be a strong county-wide effort to make the PUD focus in a different direction, even residential electrical service. Finally, in Yakima County which no longer has a PUD, the Yakama Nation (one of the State's largest sized Confederations of Indian Tribes) is attempting to create its own tribal utility and get access to cheap federal BPA hydro-power while it is still available for them at Tier One rates.