As President of the Jefferson Public Utility District board, I would like to respond to the letter from Ross Budden published in last week’s paper, titled “Who Will Pay for PUD …
As President of the Jefferson Public Utility District board, I would like to respond to the letter from Ross Budden published in last week’s paper, titled “Who Will Pay for PUD expansion?”
The following remarks are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the other Commissioners or JPUD staff.
Contrary to the impression conveyed by the writer, JPUD takes a conservative approach to spending, adding staff as necessary, (such as in the financial department which resulted in a “clean” audit for 2016), and to improve customer service in the office and in the field.
Even with staff expansion, JPUD rates are below current Puget Sound Energy rates.
JPUD also gives careful consideration to new initiatives that will pay for themselves over a short time span and then positively contribute to the utility’s budget, such as the installation of new meters. The new meters will not only provide more accurate readings, but save the cost of paying a contractor to read the old meters, which is more than $300,000 per year.
Objectively, JPUD cannot fit 50 employees into quarters designed for much smaller numbers. What commissioners are now considering involves a multiphase plan that will spread the costs out over several years.
Mr. Budden is correct that stringing fiber optic cable is expensive. However, he is completely mistaken in believing that JPUD intends to compete with CenturyLink or WAVE as an internet service provider, which is prohibited under Washington state law. JPUD has initiated a survey to identify areas where neither CenturyLink nor WAVE provides adequate service.
JPUD is not a giant corporation owned by foreign investors. It is a community-owned utility that makes all its decisions in open meetings. Information about JPUD is readily available on the JPUD website, as are audio recordings of board meetings.