PUD Commissioners guide the utility and set rates
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — Voters will select a commissioner on the Snohomish County PUD’s board to represent Everett, Marysville and across all of north county.
Incumbent Sid Logan is aiming to be re-elected. He was appointed to the board in 2017 after a vacancy opened and he won re-election in 2019.
Challenger Rob Toyer advanced in the primary above two others.
This election is to seat a commissioner for a six-year span.
The Tribune asked both candidates three questions and is printing their responses. The paper requested the candidates meet certain word lengths, and Logan’s responses have been cut due to length, but have not been edited.
Logan, 57, most recently worked as the Executive Director of Operations for the Arlington School District before retiring. A year later he joined the PUD board.
Toyer, 39, runs his own insurance and wealth management advisory firm and is a former two-term Marysville City Councilman who ran for Snohomish County Treasurer last fall.
The PUD board has three commissioners; they “establish PUD policies, set rates, adopt system plans for electric and water utilities, and approve the revenue obligations,” the utility described.
Ballots begin being mailed Oct. 15.
The seat is nonpartisan.
Q: What is your vision for what the PUD should be doing 10 years from now?
Logan: In 2028, the PUD will renegotiate its wholesale contracts for electricity from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) with the goal of ensuring that the electricity we purchase is 100% carbon free and affordable for our customers.
The PUD will have completed its Connect Up program and will be offering customers ways to save money while at the same time helping the PUD provide carbon free power. Connect Up will give customers the ability to monitor their power and water use to assist them in better understanding their billing charges and ways to save money.
Toyer: Many of my constituents complain about the lack of broadband internet in their area. As businesses continue to utilize technology, the importance of high-speed internet becomes a top priority. I’d like to see the PUD implement this into their 10-year vision. Additionally, a public marketing campaign to promote new energy efficient technologies and continued investment in land/infrastructure to ensure that Snohomish County becomes energy independence.
Q: The PUD has been able to keep utility rates steady for the past three years. Do you see opportunities to lower rates, and how?
Logan: I anticipate no electric rate increase for 2021, making it the 4th year in a row with no rate increase. My top priority continues to be that your PUD provides reliable power and water for the lowest costs.
Our wholesale cost of purchasing power from BPA is expected to increase. With the state mandate to sell 100% carbon free power by 2045, I don’t see rates dropping in the next few years. I do see many opportunities for the PUD to help customers reduce their consumption and receive discounts for using power at off peak times. PUD customers may be surprised to know that despite population growth in Snohomish County, our electricity consumption is flat or declining. This is due to customer efficiency and new energy saving building codes, both of which save PUD customers money.
Toyer: I think the PUD has cost cutting opportunities within their operating framework. I’m happy to see that rates have remained steady, but I’m concerned about the future growth impact and how that will factor into rates. Snohomish County has tremendous growth in the near future. Additionally, I oppose Smart Meters and the cost that’s associated with implementing this program.
Q: The PUD must meet a state mandate that the utility’s supply is 100% carbon-free by 2045. How should the PUD approach this goal, and separately, do your campaign goals include helping the PUD gain energy independence from fossil fuels by a certain date?
Logan: Our power is 97% carbon free as calculated annually by the state. To achieve the 100% target, the PUD will need to change how it manages peak loads that generally occur on weekdays in the mornings and evenings when we experience very cold weather. Currently at these times, BPA cannot provide the PUD with enough clean power, thus requiring the PUD to purchase power on the wholesale market that is most likely generated using fossil fuels.
Once the Connect Up program is fully implemented, customers will be able to work with the PUD in reducing these peaks in two ways 1) by taking advantage of PUD conservation programs and 2) new programs that will incentivize moving electric consumption to off-peak times. Both will result in cost savings for the customer and cleaner energy sales for the PUD.
Toyer: The PUD needs to continuously invest in infrastructure that will allow this plan to happen. I’m increasingly impressed by the advances in wind and solar electricity and believe that should be a focus for the PUD. I would continue to offer incentives for businesses and homeowners to upgrade to LED lighting as one goal. While I believe the 2045 goal is attainable, we need to ensure that we are operating in a fiscally responsible manner.
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