PUD Issues and Information 

Our policy approach:

Our 2020 positions

State issues

 

ENERGY

 

Providing a pathway for utilities to support low-income energy assistance programs through a B&O tax exemption on credits returned to utilities from the Bonneville Power Administration. WPUDA supports legislation that would:

 

  • Reenact a Business & Occupation tax exemption that was in place from 2010-2015, which ensures that funds used by electric utilities for energy conservation expenses are not subject to the state B&O tax.
  • Directs the B&O tax savings to low-income ratepayer assistance and weatherization programs.

 

Currently, PUDs are taxed on funds returned from the Bonneville Power Administration for achieved conservation.  While this is not new revenue, simply money credited back to the utility, the Department of Revenue subjects it to the B&O tax. WPUDA supports enacting a B&O tax exemption on the funds returned to utilities from BPA for those utilities that use the tax savings amount for low-income ratepayer assistance and weatherization programs.   

 

Tax Parity for Hydropower; a clean, renewable electricity resource.  Hydropower provides more than 80% of the electricity PUDs need to serve customers and is critical to ensuring PUDs remain some of the cleanest, most reliable and most affordable electricity providers in the nation.  While state law provides sales and use tax exemptions for machinery and equipment used for renewable electricity generation for resources such as wind and solar, it fails to provide similar tax treatment for hydropower resources.  As the state has enacted the Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) moving the state to a 100% greenhouse gas emissions-free grid by 2045, hydropower will play an important role in achieving the CETA goals and should be afforded equal treatment as other clean energy resources under state tax incentive programs.

 

Clean Energy. WPUDA is actively involved in the rulemaking processes underway to implement the Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA/ESSB5116).  Any related energy legislation such as a low carbon fuel standard or cap and trade needs to be harmonized and complementary to the CETA.  WPUDA does not support any changes to the CETA at this time.

 

WATER

 

Low cost infrastructure funding. WPUDA supports low-cost financing to support infrastructure investments important to providing safe and reliable water services while keeping rates affordable.  Acquiring and upgrading water systems is expensive and challenging but necessary for the people we serve.  Legislative support for funding to help make needed water projects more affordable is vital to the health and welfare of the citizens of our state.

 

  • Water system consolidation and repair grants: WPUDA is urging additional state funding to accommodate the acquisition and repair of water systems by PUDs.  The $1.5 million allocated for grants in the 2019-20 capital budget is far below the $10 million requested by the State Department of Health and supported by WPUDA.  Additional state funds are needed to make water service safe and affordable.
  • Supplemental budget request for $97 million for Public Works Assistance Account loans: Public Works Trust Fund has served as a vital resource for PUDs seeking low-cost loans to fund infrastructure.  Since 2013, however, the Legislature has taken nearly all tax revenue and loan-repayment proceeds from the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) for other state programs. Loss of PWAA revenue 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.  In the 2019 session, the PWAA received $95 million in the capital budget, far below the Public Works Board request of $217 million.  WPUDA supports a supplemental budget request for additional funding for the PWAA.
  • Water system consolidation feasibility study grants funding:  WPUDA supports the Department of Health's request for an additional $75,000 to provide water system consolidation feasibility study grants from its federal funds in the 2020 supplemental budget.  The funds are necessary to help utilities cover the cost of determining whether it's feasible to acquire and consolidate water systems. Requests to Health for these study grants exceed $400,000.

 

TELECOM

 

Expanding telecommunications services to unserved areas of the state through increased funding to the newly established broadband grant and loan program:  WPUDA supports additional funding for the newly established state broadband grant and loan program administered by the Public Works Board.  $25 million in funding was transferred from the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) to launch the new program which provides grants and loans to promote the expansion of access to broadband service in unserved areas of the state.  The funding provided is far less than the need for infrastructure to support services in unserved communities.