Four candidates vying for PUD board seat
EVERETT — In Snohomish County, one of the most potentially overlooked races on Election Day may be for a seat on the PUD Board of Commissioners. The race is for a board seat on one of Snohomish County’s biggest utilities. The board’s actions include establishing policies, setting rates, adopting plans for electrical and water systems, and approving where revenue flows to, said PUD spokesman Neil Neroutsos.
This election, four candidates are running for the seat. The August primary will narrow the field to two candidates; primary ballots began being mailed out this week.
The incumbent, Sidney Logan, was appointed from a pool of 25 candidates on March 28, 2017 after Commissioner Dave Aldrich resigned for health reasons. This election is to fill the remaining two years of a six-year term.
Logan is challenged by Sam Buchanan, Bruce King and Mary Rollins.
One of the main goals of the PUD is to provide customers a great utility service at a low cost.
“The best way the PUD can help customers to reduce costs and use less energy is through a variety of conservation incentives we offer,” Logan said, “including rebates for high efficiency devices like heat pump water heaters.”
Another possible route to lower costs is to open up to the free market.
King said “the PUD has been using a series of no-bid contracts to favored vendors and bypassing the competitive bid process; competitive bidding is one way to keep a lid on costs.”
Rollins says that from her perspective, frivolous spending has hiked costs.
“The PUD has spent millions on projects that have been abandoned. Power is not a luxury,” she said.
Additionally, expanding clean energy production is one of the goals.
“The PUD has plenty of clean energy (98 percent carbon free) at this time and for the foreseeable future. To make progress in reducing carbon in our region we need to promote electrification of transportation,” Logan said.
Solar power is one of the biggest power producing ideas on King’s mind.
“Solar energy is dropping in price, and placing solar panels on existing building roofs gets the PUD out of fights over salmon, water and farm/forest land consumption,” he said.
Rollins hopes businesses can help the PUD generate clean energy more cheaply and more efficiently.
“The PUD can partner with entrepreneurs who specialize in these systems,” she said. “There is plenty for the PUD to do without starting and stopping projects that put us in arrears in the millions of dollars.”
A vision for the future of the organization could also be considered important.
“In 20 years I see a PUD that has empowered its citizens to better manage their energy use, that integrates their solar panels, car charging and power walls to the benefit of their owners and the utility,” Logan said.
King thinks that power generation will become closer to home and from a wider variety of sources than today.
“In 20 years I believe that the majority of the electricity that the PUD supplies will be to support transportation — cars, trucks and boats,” King said. “I think that an increasing percentage of
homes will have solar panels and be generating their own power locally.”
Stability is one of the things Rollins hopes for the most.
“In 20 years, there will be no more shutoffs for customers. There will be all clean, renewable energy from non-nuclear sources,” she said, adding, “We have the technology today to accomplish this and we definitely have the workforce waiting to get the job done.”
Buchanan did not return two requests to respond to interview questions on his candidacy by deadline.
The seat is nonpartisan. Commissioners earn $2,567 per month, plus $128 for every meeting they attend. Medical coverage similar to what a PUD employee has is also offered.
If you would like to hear more from the candidates, you can find contact information in the recently mailed county voter’s pamphlet.
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