PUD Issues and Information
Our policy approach:
Our 2017 positions
WPUDA supports preservation of tax-exempt municipal financing which is vital to development and maintenance of infrastructure that supports essential services provided by state and local governments including PUDs.
WPUDA supports timely action to ensure a modern Columbia River Treaty that provides equitable distribution of power benefits between the U.S. and Canada with continued flood control protections.
WPUDA supports federal funding for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority to assist local government investments in critical infrastructure.
Created and owned by communities they serve and operated under the direction of locally-elected Boards of Commissioners, the members of the Washington PUD Association (WPUDA) including 27 public utility districts and a joint-operating agency (Energy Northwest), are committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable service. The Washington PUD Association supports public policy that ensures our members’ ability to effectively and efficiently manage the systems, resources and services that drive local economies and enhance the quality of life for residents in 28 counties across the State of Washington.
- Clean energy: WPUDA supports a policy approach that helps achieve the state’s carbon reduction goals by providing greater flexibility in meeting Energy Independence Act compliance requirements. We see value in modifications to the Act that would recognize investments in clean energy measures, provide equal recognition for the value of zero carbon electricity produced and paid for by utility customers as a result of efficiency improvements to the federal hydropower system, and ensures PUDs are able to manage resources in a way that best meets the needs of their customers and communities for clean, affordable, and reliable electricity.
- Rooftop solar financing and integration into utility systems: We support integration of rooftop solar, as well as other clean distributed energy systems in a way that ensures the reliability of PUD distribution systems, provides for consumer protection, allows eligibility for PUDs to participate in the state incentive program so PUD customers have equal opportunity to receive benefits from investments in solar, and ensures protection against cost shifts from deployment of rooftop solar systems that would place a greater financial burden on those least able to absorb increased costs.
- Providing a business and occupation tax exemption for amounts received as credits against contracts with or funds provided by the Bonneville power administration: WPUDA supports re-establishment of the B&O tax exemption that expired this year. The exemption ensured that PUDs do not pay B&O tax on funds returned from BPA for implementing energy efficiency or demand-side management programs and on amounts received in the form of credits against power contracts. The money returned from BPA is not new revenue to the PUDs but a return of PUD funds from BPA and, therefore, should not be subject to B&O tax.
- Restoration of funding to the Public Works Trust Fund: The Public Works Trust Fund is a vital resource for PUDs seeking low-cost loans to fund infrastructure. In 2013 the Legislature took nearly all tax revenue—$77 million this biennium and continuing until July 2019—from the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) to help provide an additional $1 billion in funding for basic K-12 education. Loss of this PWAA tax revenue, which comes from water and sewer utility taxes and the real estate excise tax, has resulted in severe cuts in the Public Works Trust Fund’s ability to provide low-interest loans for PUD water and wastewater projects and other basic infrastructure projects of cities, counties and water-sewer districts. We support restoration of the PWAA’s tax revenue so that the PWTF can more quickly recover its ability to finance new low-interest project loans.
- Addressing barriers to new water supply: Recent court decisions have limited the ability of PUDs and other municipal water utilities to obtain new water rights, and have limited the ability of rural property owners to obtain water through use of permit-exempt wells. The Legislature needs to address the implications of these court decisions and consider changes in state water law that will allow issuance of appropriately mitigated new water rights in urban and rural areas
- Retail telecom authority: The Washington PUD Association supports legislation that will help ensure greater access to internet services across Washington State by providing community-owned, not-for-profit public utility districts with the authority to provide customers with retail services.
- Modification of fuel mix disclosure report to reflect the actual electricity used by utilities to serve customers: WPUDA supports modifying the state’s fuel mix disclosure statute to ensure reports issued by utilities show the actual electricity resources used to serve customers. The fuel mix report serves as a foundational tool for clean energy policies and current reporting methodology results in inaccurate and misleading reports. Revising the methodology will ensure utility customers and policy makers have accurate information regarding utility resources.
- Ensuring the continued use of unit price contracts by PUDs: Use of competitively-bid unit priced contracts are a well-established practice for PUDs for work in response to unanticipated events and emergencies. Recently, the State Auditor’s office issued management letters to some utilities citing that unit priced contracts were not authorized under statute. Legislation is needed to clarify the law and ensure PUDs do not have to risk audit findings or face cost increases and time delays in responding to the needs of the customers they serve.
Distributed System Collaborative