PUD Issues and Information 

Our policy approach:

Our 2019 positions

WPUDA resolution on Clean Energy - The Washington PUD Association Board of Directors passed a resolution in January 2018 in support of least-cost policies by the State to reduce carbon emissions while maintaining electric system reliability and affordability and improving the environment.  Members of the Washington PUD Association are already doing effective work to keep carbon emissions from the electric sector minimal and are well positioned to contribute to development of carbon reduction policies.  The resolution passed by the Board demonstrate our commitment to use our clean energy expertise to contribute in the development of sensible carbon reduction policies that effectively reduce carbon while ensuring the ability of PUDs to continue to serve customers with clean, reliable and affordable electricity.  The intent is to help shape carbon reduction policy by adding our experience and knowledge to the discussion. 

Federal issues 

WPUDA supports House Resolution 3144 which ensures the best available science remains in place to protect salmon and maintain the value of our clean hydropower resources. Click here for details.

WPUDA supports hydropower licensing reform to update an antiquated process that results in new and existing projects taking up to 10 years or longer to receive approvals. Click here for details.

WPUDA supports regional efforts to ensure Washington State continues to realize the value of Bonneville Power Administration resources.  Click here for details.

WPUDA supports a modern Columbia River Treaty with a rebalanced Canadian Entitlement.  Click here for details.

WPUDA supports preserving PUD utility pole attachment rates charged to telecommunications companies to attach equipment to utility poles that are just, reasonable, non-discriminatory and sufficient to recover PUD costs. Click here for details.

July 2018 letter to Senator's Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell opposing federal legislation impact the ability of PUDs to recover costs for pole attachments

WPUDA opposes selling assets of the Bonneville Power Administration and any effort to privatize the Power Marketing Agencies, including BPA. Click here for details.

State Priority issues for 2019

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.

Energy 

Consistent and equitable treatment of incremental federal hydropower under the Energy Independence Act:  WPUDA supports modification to the Energy Independence Act (EIA) that would provide equal recognition for the value of zero carbon hydropower produced as a result of efficiency improvements to the federal hydropower system.  The current Energy Independence Act only counts incremental hydropower produced as a result of efficiency improvements at utility-owned projects as an eligible renewable resource for compliance.  Over 2.3 million Washington consumers pay millions of dollars for federal hydro efficiency improvements through rates but do not receive equal recognition for their investments in clean, renewable hydropower. WPUDA supports modifying the EIA to address this discrepancy by providing equal recognition for efficiency improvements at federal hydropower facilities that result in increased clean 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 state B&O tax and 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.    

Reducing carbon emissions in the transportation sector by authorizing PUDs to provide electric vehicle incentives:  Public utility districts serve communities with some of the cleanest energy in the country and can play an instrumental role in reducing carbon from the state’s highest carbon emitting sector, transportation, through electrification of vehicles.  PUDs are seeking the authority to provide incentives to customers for EV charging equipment. The incentives would support deployment of EVs in communities served by PUDs and maximize the value of PUD clean energy resources.

Updating outdated bid limits: The bid limits statutes for PUDs haven’t been updated since 2008, limiting the ability of PUDs to use PUD crews for project work, including projects that are critical for safety, system reliability and PUD employee training.  Since 2008, labor and materials costs have increased 20% to 100% and a higher proportion of electrical wire is now installed underground, which is typically more expensive than overhead poles and wires, yet the bid limits haven’t been updated to reflect the increases in labor and material costs. WPUDA supports changing the bid limits statutes to align with increases in costs and to clarify what qualifies as equipment under the bid limits statute.

Water

Low cost infrastructure funding:  Low-cost financing for infrastructure investments is important to providing reliable utility services while keeping rates affordable.  The 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) to help fund basic K-12 education and balance the state budget. Loss of PWAA revenue, which comes from water and sewer utility taxes, the real estate excise tax and repayment of past loans, 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. WPUDA supports restoring the PWAA’s tax revenue and loan repayments so that the account can provide a low-cost, predictable, stable funding resource for PUD water and wastewater projects well into the future. 

Grant funding for PUD water system rehabilitation:  WPUDA supports inclusion of $10 million in the state budget for the Water System Acquisition and Rehabilitation Program.  The grant program is important to PUDs and other local-government water utilities to help cover the cost of rehabilitating water systems these utilities acquire.  Many water systems PUDs acquire are 50-plus years old and in need of major improvements.  The majority of these systems were originally community water systems that owners and customers were unable to maintain and turned over to PUDs. The grant program provides necessary funding to help PUDs rehabilitate newly acquired systems without unfairly burdening other PUD customers with these rehabilitation costs. The grant program received $5 million in the last biennial capital budget, which provided vital assistance to a number of high-priority water system repair and consolidation projects but was far less than the program needs that the state Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water has documented.

Hirst/Foster implementation:  The State Supreme Court’s Hirst and Foster state Supreme Court decisions impacted rural and urban water access.  WPUDA supported the legislative fix passed in the 2018 session (S.B. 6091). The legislation included the creation of a Joint Legislative Task Force to review the issue of municipal water rights and use of mitigation plans to address impacts to instream flows and fish habitat which was raised by the Foster decision.  WPUDA supports timely resolution of the issue with implementation of a process that will ensure access to water in an environmentally responsible manner.

Telecom

Enhancing consumer access, affordability, and quality of broadband and advanced telecommunications services: WPUDA supports legislation which provides the framework necessary for efficient deployment of the new generation of wireless service while addressing the need for greater broadband access in unserved and underserved areas. This framework includes establishment of an “Office on Broadband Access” to coordinate public and private efforts to ensure greater access to broadband services across the state and funding resources to facilitate infrastructure development.